Whisky Galore! 1948

director: Alexander MacKendrick  



Great Britain

Alternative Titles

  • Tight Little Island



From the novel by COMPTON MACKENZIE
With Whisky Galore (1948) it is Scotland's turn to play host to the comedy of national character. Made entirely on the Isle of Barra (renamed Todday, for liquorous reasons), this is a tougher satire than most Ealing entertainments since it deals with the quick-wittedness and self-preservation of the Scots. Compton Mackenzie wrote the script (along with Angus Macphail) from his own novel, which may account for the undiluted robustness of character and incident. It is 1943 and Todday's population is wilting under a whisky famine - until a ship goes aground with 50,000 cases aboard. Alter a decent interval for Sabbatarian observance, the menfolk hijack the cargo, spirits flow, morale picks up. and the only cloud on the horizon (apart from the hangover) is the Home Guard commander, an Englishman whose officious zeal calls in the Customs. No one who sees the film will forget the deftness with which director Alexander Mackendrick orchestrates the many ways in which the Scots hide their liquid loot, pouring it into hot-water bottles, filling up the rain barrels, tucking it up with baby in the cot or putting it into pies whose proof is in the eating. Whisky Galore is a nimble comedy: it moves. It also blends in a nice little love story, with Joan Greenwood as the fickle telephonist wooed by the English sergeant. Gordon Jackson - the Hudson of Upstairs Downstairs many tots later - plays a shy son who stands up to his Ma after a dram or two. Basil Radford plays the spoilsport Sassenach who's always two steps behind the cunning natives as he tries to impose the old, lordly English idea of Imperial law and order on their wayward habits. James Robertson Justice, Wylie Watson, Duncan Macrae and even Compton Mackenzie (as Captain Buncher) behave like people who know the joke from the inside so that, as critic Richard Winnington wrote at the time, '(the film) is free of the terrible affliction of self-consciousness... It doesn't stand aside and say "Aren't we being funny?"' ALEXANDER WALKER

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Distributor EMI
Catalogue Number EVH 20006
Release Series
Release Date 1980
Duration: 79m 32s
Printed Classification
Notes Second release, small box
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