Wednesday, June 19, 2002


This is a highly regarded Michael Powell/Emeric Pressburger film which one reviewer has said is basically IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT set in Scotland--although, despite the humor and light tone, this one is definitely not a screwball comedy. Wendy Hiller plays a young middle-class woman who goes off to an isolated Scotish island to marry a rich industrialist (whom, we are told, is old enough to be her father). However, forces of nature (fog, wind, storms) conspire to trap her in a small village across from the island and she falls in love with a handsome but poor Navy officer. With movies like L.A. STORY and SERENDIPITY in my recent memory, the effect of the magical nature/fate theme is a bit blunted, but this is still a charming movie with absolutely beautiful photography of the Scottish land and some interesting and fun special effects, including a climactic whirlpool at sea. There is a wonderful scene early on, when her father, not terribly impressed that she's marrying the head of a large corporation, asks if she's marrying a company. This leads to a dream sequence which shows her exchanging vows with a large piece of factory equipment!

The movie never quite makes the leap into fantasy or magical realism, but the sense of the possibility of the supernatural is always present; one major plot point, though ultimately a bit awkwardly handled in the end, involves an old crumbling castle and a family curse. Hiller is great, Roger Livesey as the Navy officer only a bit less so. An actress named Pamela Brown, who fell in love with Powell and later lived with him, is very good in an important supporting part. A very young Petula Clark is also present. The DVD had commentary and featurettes which all had interesting insights into the movie and the making of it. It winds up being essentially a gussied-up British version of a Hollywood romantic comedy, which is not a genre I associate with Powell and Pressburger, but it's great fun.

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