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Thread: Whisky Galore

  1. #21
    Senior Member Country: UK Chevyman's Avatar
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  2. #22
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    That is pretty cool. The kid seems to have a good appreciation for the history behind it. I am curious as to where he got the money from. Ok, so it may not be unusual for a teen to have so much saved up, but to spend that much on an auction. Good for him though!

  3. #23
    Senior Member moonfleet's Avatar
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    Lucky me, I've bought the film few days ago, by the Britmovie link, I've just seen it once, long time ago, in the "Cin�-Club" of French 3thrd channel , it was late at night

    By the way I was there, I've bought "Dead of the Night" too



    MooN.

  4. #24
    Senior Member Country: Europe Bernardo's Avatar
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    I am really looking forward to this afternoon. Whisky Galore! is on STV.

    I have added that channel to Freesat thanks to Lord Brett and set the recorder. Sunny day or not, for 90 minutes or so I will be transported to that golden age in film making. (4.05pm so not too early for a wee dram myself)

  5. #25
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    It's one of the few Ealing films to have been released in a Whisky Galore! [DVD] [1949]: Amazon.co.uk: Basil Radford, Joan Mackenzie: DVD fancy Special Edition which has lots of tasty extras on it.

  6. #26
    Senior Member Country: UK DB7's Avatar
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    Another shot of Scotch on the rocks with a splash of wit

    Jonathan Romney raises his glass to 'Whisky Galore!' on the eve of its re-release

    Sunday, 24 July 2011


    The words Ealing Studios traditionally evoke all that's quintessentially English in cinema. Yet one of the studio's most enduring successes is anything but English. Think of screen Scottishness, and chances are you think of Alexander Mackendrick's Hebrides-set comedy Whisky Galore!, filmed in 1948 and rereleased this week.

    Buoyant, anti-authoritarian and more than a little anti-English, Whisky Galore! is set in 1943 on the apocryphal Hebridean island of Todday. One dreadful day, the whisky runs out, causing community morale to plummet � until the islanders learn of a ship wrecked nearby, carrying a huge consignment of their beloved tipple. Naturally, they regard the cargo as fair game and help themselves � in defiance of the island's Home Guard commander, the blustering Englishman Waggett (Basil Radford).

    Seen today, Whisky Galore! stands out as depicting Scottish island culture in a no-nonsense, caricature-free fashion. Todday may be peopled with larger-than-life figures � some played by leading Scottish actors including Gordon Jackson and James Robertson Justice � but the film sounds a striking note of realism, not least because much of the cast comprised the islanders of Barra, where the film was shot.

    It was adapted from a novel by the fervent Scottish nationalist Sir Compton Mackenzie � born, in fact, in Hartlepool � who appears as a skipper in the film. Mackenzie based his Whisky Galore on a true incident. In 1941, a freighter, the SS Politician, ran aground near the island of Eriskay with a cargo of 22,000 cases of scotch. The islanders eagerly seized the treasure trove, while Mackenzie, local Home Guard commander at the time, turned a blind eye.

    As for the film, scripted by Mackenzie and Angus MacPhail (an Englishman), it was completed altogether against the odds. Ealing's head of publicity, Russian-born Monja Danischewsky, was getting bored, so studio head Michael Balcon offered him the chance to produce a film � provided it was shot on location. Danischewsky gave his first directing job to US-born, Glasgow-raised Mackendrick. Balcon was initially unimpressed by the script, but Mackendrick and Danischewsky persuaded him to let them set up shop on Barra. But the summer of 1948 brought heavy rain and gales, and the shoot ran five weeks over its planned 10-week schedule, while the budget more than doubled.

    The first cut of the resulting footage didn't please Balcon, but Charles Crichton � director of Ealing's The Lavender Hill Mob � stepped in to re-edit it. Whisky Galore! premiered in London in June 1949, and tickled the critics: the Evening News predicted the film would "put new spirit into jaded British audiences, with not a trace of a hangover". Box-office success was moderate in England, rather better in Scotland. But the film achieved major success across the Atlantic � where, to assuage pieties about drink, it was renamed Tight Little Island. It was also a hit in France, where the title's literal translation came out as Whisky � Go-Go, thereby coining a name for a multitude of nightspots. Not so keen, however, were the teetotallers of Denmark, who threatened to boycott any cinema that showed the film.

    Indeed, modern viewers may be surprised to see how enthusiastically pro-booze Whisky Galore! is. It's a celebration of what, the film reminds us, comes from the Gaelic uisge beatha � the water of life.

    There's much witty debunking of picture-book Scottishness. Photographed by Gerald Gibbs, the film begins with footage of sea crashing on rocks and images of lobster-catching, net-weaving and the like, in a nod to such documentaries as Robert Flaherty's Man of Aran. Then comes a mischievous gag, as the narrator (Finlay Currie) tells us that the islanders are "a happy people, with few and simple pleasures" � and as child after child after child scampers into view, we can guess what some of those pleasures might be.

    In its discreet way, this is quite a sexually charged film, due in no small part to English actress Joan Greenwood, whose velvety breathiness is one of the most seductive sounds in British cinema. In one scene, a suitor courts Greenwood's Peggy Macroon on the beach; flirtatiously lowering her eyelids, she says: "If you want to be cheeky, you must be cheeky in the Gaelic." He does, and the interpolated shots of dunes and waves before the couple go home tell us he achieved the desired result.

    Whisky Galore! has no protagonist as such: the "hero" of this ensemble piece is the island community. If there is a central figure, it's the likeable but pompous Waggett, played by Basil Radford. With his stuffed-shirt incompetence, Waggett is a prototype for Arthur Lowe's Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army.

    Waggett's high-minded but spoilsport attempt to foil looting makes him the butt of the film's comedy. But the character caused tension between Mackendrick and his producer: while Danischewsky took the islanders' side, the Glasgow-raised director disapproved of their anarchic actions and sympathised with Waggett. Mackendrick later said: "I began to realise that the most Scottish character in Whisky Galore! is Waggett the Englishman. He is the only Calvinist, puritan figure ... and all the other characters aren't Scots at all; they're Irish."

    Whisky Galore! has long been viewed as one of the more authentically Scottish of British films � although hardcore cinephiles tend to get more dewy-eyed about the island films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, The Edge of the World and I Know Where I'm Going!. Mackendrick's film left its mark on a later hit, Bill Forsyth's Local Hero, although for critic Philip Kemp � author of Lethal Innocence: The Cinema of Alexander Mackendrick � a truer descendant is The Wicker Man.

    Never pure comedy alone, Whisky Galore! also has genre shades of pirate adventure and war drama � with its snooping customs officers resembling fedora'd and raincoated Gestapo men. ("I only laugh at things that have some undercurrent of something deadly serious," Mackendrick once commented.) It's such pithiness that makes the film so lasting, where some other Ealing comedies now feel uncomfortably cosy. Mackendrick's comedies � notably The Man in the White Suit and The Ladykillers � are without a doubt at the sharp end of the Ealing spectrum. "The ruthlessness of the comedy keeps it fresh," says Philip Kemp. "Whisky Galore! ends with the Basil Radford character being quite ruthlessly shafted."

    Mackendrick later forged a transatlantic career, and in 1957 made the Hollywood classic Sweet Smell of Success, a dissection of the gossip press bitterly relevant today. His directing career foundered in the late 1960s but he went on to teach film in California up to his death in 1993.

    Long neglected as an auteur, Mackendrick � whose centenary is celebrated next year � is revered by film-makers including Martin Scorsese, the Coen brothers and Stephen Frears. He himself always disparaged what he called the "utterly unjustified cult of the director", but his own hands-on perfectionism made him one of the most enduring British talents. Witness Whisky Galore!, which this week will have audiences raising a glass � Slainte mhath! � once more.

  7. #27
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DB7 View Post
    Whisky Galore! has long been viewed as one of the more authentically Scottish of British films – although hardcore cinephiles tend to get more dewy-eyed about the island films of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, The Edge of the World and I Know Where I'm Going!. Mackendrick's film left its mark on a later hit, Bill Forsyth's Local Hero, although for critic Philip Kemp – author of Lethal Innocence: The Cinema of Alexander Mackendrick – a truer descendant is The Wicker Man.
    Although I do like Whisky Galore! and Local Hero as well

    Steve

  8. #28
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook View Post
    Although I do like Whisky Galore! and Local Hero as well

    Steve
    Amazing the difference it makes to a story about a naive English incomer to a wartime Scottish island if you have a leading man who bothers to show up on location

  9. #29
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainWaggett View Post
    Amazing the difference it makes to a story about a naive English incomer to a wartime Scottish island if you have a leading man who bothers to show up on location
    Or maybe it's amazing the lack of difference it makes

    Steve

  10. #30
    Senior Member Country: UK CaptainWaggett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Crook View Post
    Or maybe it's amazing the lack of difference it makes

    Steve


    Whisky Galore!

    Whisky Galore! � review

    The Ealing classic about Scottish islanders attempting to liberate a boatload of alcohol comes up sparkling in this wonderful reissue
    5 / 5
    In the drink ... Whisky Galore!
    1. Whisky Galore
    2. Production year: 1949
    3. Country: UK
    4. Cert (UK): U
    5. Runtime: 81 mins
    6. Directors: Alexander Mackendrick
    7. Cast: Basil Radford, Joan Greenwood
    8. More on this film

    This summer has seen a string of classic Ealing reissues, and continues with this: beguiling, subversive and a complete joy. Basil Radford plays a flustered Englishman sent to command a Home Guard force on a remote Scottish island during the second world war. He is pop-eyed with indignation to find that his men, along with the entire civilian population � maddened by a wartime alcohol shortage � are secretly intent on plundering 50,000 cases of whisky from a shipwreck. This tale of an outsider failing to come to grips with a tight-knit community could be screened as a triple bill with Local Hero ("Oil-money galore") and The Wicker Man ("Occult conspiracy galore"). Insouciantly, the film finally reveals that the mass pilfering drove whisky prices up, and eventually caused another booze famine. So victimless crime doesn't pay? Well, this looks like mere lip-service being paid to the moral justice of the free market. The film's sympathies are entirely with the drinkers. Perhaps it couldn't be made in today's sober times.

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  12. #32
    Senior Member moonfleet's Avatar
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    Last edited by moonfleet; 27-01-12 at 12:02 PM.

  13. #33
    Senior Member Country: Aaland dremble wedge's Avatar
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    Two splendid blogs there that shall keep me busy for a while...

  14. #34
    Senior Member moonfleet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dremble wedge View Post
    Two splendid blogs there that shall keep me busy for a while...
    Yes, I found the Booze Movies blog sometimes ago when looking for something else (as usual), it's a very funny, erudited, informed (all the various alcohols drunk in a film are enumerated ) and enjoyable place, now I've to look at it again !!

    Have another drink cult film... Withnail and I
    Last edited by moonfleet; 27-01-12 at 01:16 PM.

  15. #35
    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moonfleet View Post
    Yes, I found the Booze Movies blog sometimes ago when looking for something else (as usual), it's a very funny, erudited, informed (all the various alcohols drunk in a film are enumerated ) and enjoyable place, now I've to look at it again !!

    Have another drink cult film... Withnail and I
    If you like those, have you checked out Unfinished soup in P&P films?
    It's very odd. P&P were both gourmets but there's a lot of unfinished soup in their films.

    Or maybe the more general Soup Goes to the Movies

    Steve

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