CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Comedy
  • 1970
  • 116 mins

Hoffman

Hoffman

Synopsis

Bone-dry sex comedy starring Peter Sellers as a middle-aged man who blackmails his soon-to-be-married secretary into sleeping with him for a week

About

In 1970 Hoffman put a fresh spin on the sexual revolution with its story about a middle-aged boss who blackmails his young secretary into spending a week alone with him. Its sharp observations on the theme of youth being wasted on the young struck a chord with the generation who missed out on all the fun.

Thirty years on and Hoffman is, at times, positively creepy. Like Miss Jones (Cusack) we fear the worst and, to begin with at least, the cold, unlovable Mr Hoffman (Sellers) does little to dissuade us of this assumption. He admits to his secretary that he is sexually frustrated, calls women "fallopian tubes with teeth" and when she visits the bathroom tells his quarry to "get ready to be fertilised". Yet, despite all the sexual insinuation it transpires that all Mr Hoffman wants is to be with her, admire her legs as they stand at his kitchen sink and breathe in her smell.

Hoffman is odd; it's also wickedly smart. Slowly, and sweetly, the reasons for all the strange behaviour reveal themselves and the odious Mr Hoffman becomes a moderately likeable human. As the mood lightens so does the comedy - but it is hardly romantic comedy as we know it today. Sellers is at the peak of his powers, wonderful in a bittersweet role that demands him to be both darkly comic and gentle, mournful yet mischievous. Cusack offsets him brilliantly - skittish and ditzy against his hound dog solemnity.

The cinematography is also terrific and often loaded with metaphor, like a small scene when the couple visit the Harrods Food Hall and Cusack, looking innocent and lost, is framed against a backdrop of vast sides of pork. Or the opening titles which, to the soundtrack of Matt Monro, follow Miss Smith on her journey across London to Hoffman's flat.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Jeremy Bulloch, Peter Sellers, Sinéad Cusack, Ruth Dunning, David Lodge
  • Director: Alvin Rakoff
  • Writer: Ernest Gebler
  • Producer: Ben Arbeid
  • Photographer: Gerry Turpin
  • Composer: Ron Grainer

In a nutshell

Despite it's dry humour and bizarre morality Hoffman deserves to be rediscovered.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Grand Piano

    Grand Piano

    Concert pianist Tom Selznick (Elijah Wood) is about to put on the show of his life: if he plays one wrong note at his comeback gig, a sniper in the upper circle will execute his wife

  • Film4 Neighbouring Sounds

    Neighbouring Sounds

    Life in a middle-class Brazilian neighbourhood changes upon the arrival of an independent private security firm hired to guard the surrounding area

    On Film4: 23 Sep 11:10PM

  • Film4 Ferris Bueller's Day Off

    Wheels In Motion Season On Film4

    It's a parade of motorcycles, trains and automobiles on Film4 as the Wheels In Motion Season gets rolling

  • Film4 The Moo Man

    The Moo Man On Film4

    Director Andy Heathcote tells the story of a farmer (Stephen Hook) and his cows on an organic dairy farm in the acclaimed Sundance documentary on Film4.

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share