Posted by: greercn | February 21, 2012

Whisky Galore (1948)

“Whisky Galore” is a glorious treat, showing off just about every delightful and loveable feature of classic British film at its best. Funny, clever and warm, the plot tells the story of the whisky-loving residents of Todday, a Scots island, facing the days of ration and shortage, who come up with a cunning plan to take large amounts of whisky off a sinking ship.

Compton MacKenzie wrote “Whisky Galore” while he was living on Barra. He was a fabulous character. He co-formed the Scottish National Party and was Rector of Glasgow University from 1931-4.

The book “Whisky Galore” is full of loving digs at the differences between the two Todday islands but this stuff is not in the filmed version. Still, “Monarch of the Glen”, “Whisky Galore” and “Rockets Galore” are still worth reading.

In France, the movie was called “Whisky A Go Go”. “A Go Go”, in French, means “as much as you wish to have”. How we get from there to go go boots and club names is another story.

So much acting talent is here. I remember James Robertson Justice being an old actor and it’s astonishing to see him so very young. Joan Greenwood is terrific, but then all the stars and islanders of Arran blend in so well that it’s hard to tell them apart.

A youthful Gordon Jackson has a key role, already showing the quality that would make him a star. Gabrielle Blunt deserves a mention, but there isn’t a bad performance here. Finlay Currie’s uncredited narration is lovely and Compton MacKenzie gets a cameo as the captain of the sinking ship.

Drinking, dancing, keeping the sabbath and smuggling whisky ashore all play their parts in this story. The bad guy is an Englishman, of course. If you’re looking to challenge national stereotypes, go to another movie.

It just truly warms your heart. I had never seen this on a big screen and the sea and beach scenes deserve a big picture.

The drinking song – a clip is attached – and the fantastic dancing and drinking scene that heralds two engagements all means you probably shouldn’t see this if you are trying to avoid alcohol. It could be called “Whisky – A Love Story”, really.

This was the first time I had been to the newish Hackney Picturehouse. It’s on the site of the old Ocean venue in Mare Street and it certainly looks and feels luxurious.

Many locals believe the venue is doomed, having seen so many ventures run aground there, but the place seemed to be thriving on a Monday night. They have a whole series of classic British films showing, including a number of Ealing comedies, so do check out their website.

The venue serves an amazing range of food and drink, but I had supper at my favourite Turkish restaurant, the Anatolia which, I believe, does the nicest kebabs and the best bread in the east end of London.

My much younger companions all adored the film. Of course, we had to stay and try out a few whiskies at the bar afterwards. I imagine that “Whisky Galore” has sold a lot of whisky, over the years.

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Responses

  1. Wonderful post. Glorious film. I can only hope your posting will encourage others to experience something truly magical.

    • Thank you! I adored seeing it on a big screen.

  2. It was filmed on Barra.

    • That’s curious because IMDB says they couldn’t get permission to film on Barra so they filmed on Arran. I shall look it up. Thank you!

    • Yes, you’re correct. Thank you. Barra it is.


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