|Whisky Galore (1949)
Run time: 82 min
Genres: Comedy | Crime
Director: Alexander Mackendrick
Writers: Compton MacKenzie, Compton MacKenzie
Stars: Basil Radford, Joan Greenwood, Catherine Lacey
Scottish islanders low on spirits take drastic, and appropriate, steps when a ship with a cargo of whisky is marooned off their shore. This British joy is one of the drollest films you can hope to see.
Release Date: 25 December 1949 (USA)
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Along with classical music Compton Mackenzie certainly knew his stuff when he wrote Whisky Galore, basing it on true events that happened in 1941. I always preferred the film. The quality of the video I made from UK BBC2 on 28th Dec 1988 was excellent, but there are budget editions out there so if interested best be careful. This is one of Ealing's handful of timeless first class classics, one that is always shown on TV and has passed into British movie folklore. Its depiction of the Sabbath-keeping Scottish islanders is only just passing into history as the inhabitants of the Outer Hebrides are only gradually establishing Sunday communications with the mainland.
Insular isolated island runs out of whisky but a cargo ship with 50,000 cases of the muck runs aground nearby. Happy times return, against all the efforts of Basil Radford as the local snooty (English) Home Guard Captain. Bruce Seton was actually a rather weather-beaten 40 to Joan Greenwood's 28 but they surely made a splendid non whisky drinking couple especially at the dance. Favourite bits: The church clock striking for the arrival of Monday morning and the consequent sudden activity; The group of men singing lustily and making hay with their first drink for ages; Hiding the muck from the Excise men, and so much more to watch and savour over and over again.
Ealing Studios went to Barra in summer 1948 and filmed this in 3 months for £80,000 – over-budget, too! When I think of the enormous pleasure that it's given me and so many others over the decades I would think that it was money very well spent, unlike any that might be spent on a pointless remake.
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.
Whisky Galore AKA Tight Little Island is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen. Alexander MacKendrick did a fantastic job in bringing Compton MacKenzie’s book Whisky Galore to the big screen. MacKendrick keeps the pace going with plot twists that would cause one to "bust a gut." If you are looking for a truly enjoyable movie to lighten your mood, Whisky Galore is a must.
A Canadian friend turned me on to this film. Prior to that – about 10 years ago – I had never heard of it. I managed to find a video and watched it. This was, without question, one of the funniest flicks I had ever seen. Filmed in glorious black & white and mostly at night, it boasted some incredible character actors and a non-stop action plot involving whiskey. LOTS of whiskey. Some great cinematography and sets, moody typical-English fog-laden atmosphere and a giant A for effort what the townsfolk went thru to hold on to that liquor! Very funny, non-violent movie just for laughs. I strongly suggest you see it.