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- Whisky Galore
- Runtime:82 min
- Release Date:2014-02-20 10:41:33
- Director: Alexander Mackendrick
- Genres: Comedy
MOVIE REVIEW:Whisky Galore
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I regret to say that this is one of the most overrated films I have
ever seen. This is the only negative review I have ever done for IMDb,
but enough is enough – someone has to stand up against the tide of
praise this film has inexplicably attracted for decades.
If ever there was an example of a film playing the part of the emperor
in the Emperor's New Clothes fable, it is this one. There are virtually
no laughs – and yet it is an acclaimed comedy. It is at times cruel and
unpleasant – and yet it has a reputation for being gentle and
There are genuinely classic comedies from the 1940s, so I have nothing
against 40s comedies as such. An example is fellow Ealing comedy 'Kind
Hearts and Coronets' (1948), which is both clever and genuinely witty,
and at the same time doesn't pretend to be gentle and whimsical.
However, 'Whisky Galore' is neither clever nor witty. And, as mentioned
above, it is at times cruel. The army captain (Basil Radford) is only
trying to do his job, yet is driven to the edge of a nervous breakdown
by the malice of the islanders. In the end, the captain gets into
trouble with his superiors because of the deceit of the islanders. How
gentle, whimsical and amusing – not.
I realise that such films were popular at the time because they tapped
into the prevailing anti-establishment feeling of the immediate
post-war years. However, in the cold light of the 21st century we need
to be honest. There are many 1940s films which stand up extremely well
even today. 'Whisky Galore' is not one of them.
This little movie has over the years grown into a real small classic.
This is all due to the movie its simplicity and it being a small one.
It makes it easy to like this movie and pleasant to watch, from
basically start till finish.
This is an early 'modern' comedy, without any slapstick moments or
screwball story lines or characters. This movie is more like a comedy
that still gets made this present time. It requires some fine acting
and comedy timing from the director and editor, which is all being good
in this movie.
It has a rather simplistic concept, that got based on a true story.
Just imaging an island full of Scottish, craving for the next shipload
of whiskey, in the midst of WW II. When there is a stranded ship near
the coast with 50,000 cases of whiskey aboard they see their big
chance. However an uptight home guard stands in their way and they
islanders must do their very best to keep the bottles and cases hidden
on the small island.
It's basically a fun little movie to watch and to kill some time with
(it's quite short anyway) but quite honest I wouldn't call it a classic
On 5 February 1941, the SS Politician, en route to Jamaica, sank during
bad weather off the coast of Eriskay, in the Outer Hebrides. It was
carrying 250,000 bottles of whisky, which the locals gleefully looted
before authorities arrived. Bottles still surface to this day, carried
in by the tides to the beach. It must be a wonderful place to live.
Whisky Galore!, an adaptation of the novel based on the true incident
by Compton Mackenzie, uses the same premise, but – importantly – the
interlopers (or "meddling colonialists"), in the shape of Basil
Radford's Captain Waggett and his Home Guard, are already in place.
On the Island of Todday whisky is everything – the "water of life"
binding the community together. When wartime rationing spells its
depletion, the locals are only too delighted to relieve the "SS Cabinet
Minister" of its cargo. Confrontation between the wily Islanders
battling (literally) for survival, the pompous, uncomprehending Captain
(a forerunner to Dad's Army's Captain Mainwaring), and the Gestapo-like
Customs and Excise men is a foregone conclusion.
To Ealing head Michael Balcon's consternation, the movie was produced
by a novice (Ealing's publicist Monja Danischewsky) and helmed by
first-time director Alexander Mackendrick, emerging over-budget, due to
(coincidentally enough) bad weather. Mackendrick, a strict Scottish
Calvinist, also deliberately imposed a moralistic comeuppance-style
But Balcon shouldn't have worried. Scarily similar to The Wicker Man in
places, this wonderful movie is a joy to watch from start to finish,
with Basil Radford, in particular, in his element. A reminder, if one
were needed, that classic British cinema doesn't begin and end South of
the border, this one – like whisky – will bring a warm glow to your
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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!
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