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Whisky Galore!
Crime, Comedy
IMDB rating:
Alexander Mackendrick
Gordon Jackson as George Campbell
Morland Graham as The Biffer
James Woodburn as Roderick MacRurie
Gabrielle Blunt as Catriona Macroon
Jameson Clark as Constable Macrae
James Anderson as Old Hector
Bruce Seton as Sergeant Odd
Wylie Watson as Joseph Macroon
James Robertson Justice as Dr. Maclaren
John Gregson as Sammy MacCodrun
Jean Cadell as Mrs. Campbell
Catherine Lacey as Mrs. Waggett
Basil Radford as Captain Paul Waggett
Joan Greenwood as Peggy Macroon
Storyline: Based on a true story. The name of the real ship, that sunk Feb 5 1941 - during WWII - was S/S Politician. Having left Liverpool two days earlier, heading for Jamaica, it sank outside Eriskay, The Outer Hebrides, Scotland, in bad weather, containing 250,000 bottles of whisky. The locals gathered as many bottles as they could, before the proper authorities arrived, and even today, bottles are found in the sand or in the sea every other year.
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Compton Mackenzie's farcical finest!
I have seen Whisky Galore so many times I lost count during the 'eighties. Most films so viewed tend to lose their sparkle somewhat. Not with this little gem - I laugh every time.

I have been promised that these strange happenings were based in fact, but I cannot believe that such a concatenation of hilarious happenstance could possibly have occurred, here in the British Isles, where the ridiculous is commonplace, or anywhere else. This film is full of the finest British character actors of the era, and a few acting 'non-entities' as well, who all give marvellous performances. The laughter doesn't stop, and the whisky keeps on flowing - I love it. I hope you get half as much out of Whisky Galore as I have - you'll be well pleased.
Captain Waggett (aka Mainwaring)
Delightful post-war British comedy illustrating for the umpteenth time the fighting spirit of the "ordinary Joe" (or in this case Jock) when set against the pomposity of the would-be ruling classes. Capt Waggett (Basil Radford) is the real star here as the middle class representative of stiff upper lippery. Surely Jimmy Perry and David Croft must have drawn on him when they were dreaming up the Capt Mainwaring character for the long-running BBC TV sit-com "Dad's Army". Even one of Waggett's lines ("I was waiting to see when you'd spot that", a comment usually made when Mainwaring had just uttered some piece of logistical nonsense) made an appearance. Unmissable example of British comedy rooted in the style that made Ealing so succesful.
I was told that the star of this movie is Will Fyfe (Fyffe?). Are we talking about the same movie here? My Scottish husband tells me the film is very funny, remembering it from when he was young and still living in the Hamilton/Kilmarnock (western) area of Scotland after World War II. We would like to find a copy of the original which, he recalls, starred Will Fyfe. This listing shows Basil Radford in the starring role. Would this be a remake of the original, which he and his friends remember as: Tight Little Island? We would appreciate any clarification one might have on this title/actor confusion to be confident of searching for a copy of the original, wonderful movie. Thank you.
Whisky Galore!
I recognised the title of this comedy classic from Ealing Studios and director Alexander Mackendrick (The Ladykillers, Sweet Smell of Success), and being in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die I was bound to try it. Based on a true story, set in World War II, a remote Scottish Hebrides island group - Great Todday and Little Todday - have run out of all whisky, the "water of life", most people can't live without it. There fortune changes though when a cargo vessel crashes, and when they find out it is filled with 50,000 bottles of whisky, so the villagers are quick to get to the wreck and loot it. They manage to get plenty before the ship sinks, of course the authorities are bound to get involved, so plenty of people are finding places to hide their bottles. In the end, after they all get away with it and they eventually run out, the price for whisky is risen twice, and only two people that don't drink it live happily ever after. Starring Basil Radford as Captain Paul Waggett, Catherine Lacey as Mrs. Waggett, Bruce Seton as Sergeant Odd, Joan Greenwood as Peggy Macroon, Gordon Jackson as George Campbell, Wylie Watson as Joseph Macroon, Gabrielle Blunt as Catriona Macroon, Jean Cadell as Mrs Campbell and James Robertson Justice as Dr Maclaren, narrated by Finlay Currie. The story might have been a bit droll, but there were some alright performances, it was quite intriguing in parts, and I did laugh in a few moments of the film. It was nominated the BAFTA for Best British Film. Very good!
A Sip of Good Scotch
A good whisky needs time to fully express itself; drinking it without its having reached its maturity just won't do. Well, like a great whisky, this film has developed itself over time. Already 65 years old, and that is certainly a long period of ageing, "Whisky Galore" is still crisp, certain, subtle and appealing, what you would expect both a great spirit and a great film to be. Like the perfect sip, it gets ahold of you from the very beginning, captivating the drinker (or the viewer) with calculated pace and timing, keeping your interest from start to finish. The movie deals easily with complex issues, such as the relation between parents and offspring, military and civilian, State and folk, always leaning towards the weaker. Ever gentle, it will make you smile and leave you with a nice reminiscence lingering for a long time: once again, just as a glass of the best scotch would do. Cheers!
A cosy chair of a film
(55%) A super cosy little British comedy that has grown to become a national favourite mainly owing to its bags of charm and almost time capsule likened look at Britain's wartime past. For me this is more quaint than funny, but watching it is like being wrapped in a winter warming blanket. The performances are fine with the almost ever present in films from this ere Gordon Jackson, while Joan Greenwood is almost hypnotic in her memorable performance as the love interest. After the ship is plundered the movie becomes much more fun and entertaining to watch, with its two fingered salute to the rules and the people who make them. Fans of classic British comedy that haven't already seen this should without doubt track it down.
cute little film
When I saw this film was made by Ealing Studios, I jumped at the chance to see it. That's because following WWII, this small studio made a long string of cute little gems--all with exquisite writing, acting and direction--and on shoestring budgets. Their Alec Guinness films and PASSPORT TO PIMLICO are some of the very best films of the era. So I wasn't surprised when I found I also enjoyed this slight little film about a town that ran out of whisky (the Scottish spelling) and their attempts to smuggle in a new supply of drink. Once again, the very simple story was deftly handled and it was quite entertaining. There were only two drawbacks--neither one might affect you personally. The first was the language. While I watch tons of British television and movies, I, like most Americans have a much harder time understanding Scottish accents than English accents. I really would have loved subtitles or closed captioning, but the videotape I saw had neither. Secondly, the quality of the print was really lousy. Both these problems can be blamed on Critic's Choice Videos. I've seen other films from them and must say they produce among the WORST quality videotapes--try to find ANY other brand.
Whisky Business
This charming little postcard of a comedy is pleasant enough to spend time with; amiable, diverting, and offering nice streaks of ambiance here and there. Yet it achieves its goal of being a light comedy almost too well, becoming margarine-soft and forgettable.

This British comedy from legendary Ealing Studios features an island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, Todday, that enjoys its relative isolation from modern life until World War II supply cutbacks deprive them of their whisky shipments. Salvation arrives in the form of a freighter that gets wrecked just offshore, carrying 7,000 cases of the blessed "uisge beatha" just waiting to be plucked to safety.

"Whisky Galore!" gives us a chance to see recognizable actors such as Basil Radford of "The Lady Vanishes," James Robertson Justice from "The Guns of Navarone," and especially the sultry Joan Greenwood from "Kind Hearts And Coronets" in the sort of film that paid their rents while they awaited more significant work. Also on offer are impressive, on-location shots by director Alexander Mackendrick and cinematographer Gerald Gibbs that foreshadow "The Quiet Man" and "Local Hero" in the way they boldly present the windswept beauty of gorse and fescue against a rocky shore.

It's really Radford's film in that he has the main role, that of a martinet British Home Guard officer named Waggett who takes his work way too seriously. When he learns of the foundered ship, he realizes its cargo will be the target of pilfering from the thirsty islanders, and decides to make it his business the whisky either is lost with the ship or is taken away by proper authorities so as not to cost the Crown any lost excise tax revenue.

"Would it be so terrible if the people here did get a few bottles?" asks his wife. "I mean, if it's all going down to the bottom of the sea..."

"That's a very dangerous argument, darling," counters Waggett. "Once people take the law into their own hands, it's anarchy!"

For someone who has had the displeasure of working for a Waggett-type character, it's fun to watch him come to grief trying to be a killjoy for everyone else. Yet he's also the only really distinctive character here. The only other role with any meat on it is Bruce Seton's, an Army sergeant home from Africa who is sympathetic to the Todday citizenry but somewhat bland. The others are just bland outright. Mostly they are tweedy codgers differentiated only by their beard lengths and degrees of desire for a drop of the hard stuff. Oh, and one strict Calvinist mother from hell so you don't think drinkers are the only Scottish stereotype on offer here.

Even Greenwood, the most notable screen presence in the cast with her trademark (and non-Scottish) husky voice, is wasted as one of two young island sisters being eyed for marriage (in Greenwood's case, by Seton). There's much running around as Waggett tries to uncover caches of purloined liquor, but it seems more frantic than clever.

There are some chuckle-worthy lines, some with a clever touch of whimsical darkness about them: (Learning a neighbor has given birth to twins, one laments: "Two souls - What a calamity!") And there's a fine cinematic moment when whisky returns to Todday and we are treated to a scene of the drinkers merrily humming away some unintelligible tune, their alight eyes telling the tale.

Unless you're an alcoholic, you'll enjoy one shot of "Whisky Galore!" But even hearty drinkers may find themselves agreeing one is enough.
One of Ealing's Best Comedies.
The people of the little village of Toddy on one of the Outer Hebrides runs out of whiskey and there is no prospect of any coming in. A shroud descends on the island. No one smiles. The elderly waste away.

Then, through the seasonable interposition of a gracious Providence, a ship is wrecked just offshore while carrying a cargo of 50,000 cases of scotch. The villagers, champing at the bit while waiting for the Sabbath to end, finally manage to save some 250 cases before the ship goes down.

The sun shines again and the islanders are happy -- except for the comically strict captain of the Home Guard who learns of the theft and calls in the authorities to confiscate the goods. He almost does it, too.

It's a fine farce. The comedy is understated and flows naturally from the unnatural situations. The laughs are never forced. I'll give just one example.

As the men of the village are finishing the transfer of all that booze from the ship to a fleet of rowboats, the ship itself gives a lurch and lists heavily. The cargo hold, still full of stone-heavy cases of whiskey, is filled with tumbling cartons. One man is trapped below and when his rescuers hurriedly pull the crates away from him, they find him sitting there with a resigned but not at all unhappy expression. If you're going to lose your life, this is the proper way to do it -- crushed by the water of life.

There's a dumb coda, but it's sarcastic and can be ignored safely. Otherwise this is a truly heart-warming movie that belongs to the "happy peasant" genre. The outsiders are cold and repressed, while the peasants dance, sing, drink, and feast. There are far worse examples of the genre. I particularly like the fact that, at the end, the moralistic outsider isn't converted by the peasants. He simply goes away in frustration.
Whisky in the jar
Whisky Galore! is generally regarded as the typical charming and whimsical Ealing comedy pitting the common people against the forces of bureaucracy and high mindedness.

Directed by the American Alexander Mackendrick who had a sly eye for such waggish stories. When a cargo of whisky is shipwrecked near a small Outer Hebrides island, the local villagers, already out of whisky rations set about taking as much of the stock from the stricken ship before the authorities get wind.

Basil Radford plays the Home Guard's Captain Waggett, an Englishman who tries to keep order from what he sees as anarchy and find the stolen whisky which by now is cunningly hidden by the villagers.

The villagers just want to have fun during wartime rationing and rally together by sticking two fingers at the face of authority. A classic case of Ealing's anti establishment streak which works well in a remote island community which by the way still strictly observes Sunday. Of course Gordon Jackson is in it, a young man with a domineering mother.

Although the tale is amiable, it is also modest. It is more of a culture clash comedy as Captain Waggett behaves in an arch way and not trying to understand the locals.
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