Whisky Galore is another film I wasn’t really looking forward to, but this time it was for a completely vapid reason: I thought the title sounded rather stupid. It seemed cut from the same mold as I Know Where I’m Going!, complete with exclamation mark, and truth be told, I somehow gathered the expectation that this would be somewhat like a combination of that film and Me and My Gal; both films I hadn’t particularly cared for. Then I did my research, and found out this was an Ealing Studios comedy, of which I’ve had a general good record with in the past, and I was able to start the film a little more at ease. Well, I’m happy to say that my current record with Ealing comedies remains intact; this might not have been the funniest of the Ealings I’ve seen, but it was very likely the most enjoyable.
The film started off with an opening narration, describing the Scottish island of Todday that our story takes place on, and was simple enough. Then, the big bombshell was dropped, complete with the most hilarious and overbearingly melodramatic music that could possibly have underscored the revelation: “THERE IS NO WHISKY!” And I just broke out into a wide smile, and knew that I’d likely end up enjoying my time with this one. The plot deals with the drought of whisky on the island, and how the islanders end up butting heads with the local guardsman when a ship carrying 50,000 cases of the drink shipwrecks off the coast of the island. This isn’t really a heist film, per se, but it does come down to a battle of wits between the head guardsman Capt. Waggett and the islanders when they attempt to sneak cases of the whisky off the ship before it flounders and subsequently hide it from the inspection team the captain calls in from the mainland. One reason I found the film as enjoyable as it was was that there wasn’t an outright good guy or bad guy, or at least so much so that one could label them “hero” or “villain”. Everybody in the film was right in the gray area, and even the director, Alexander Mackendrick, has gone on record sympathizing with the spoilsport Capt. Waggett, even though he is technically the antagonist of the picture.
This ended up being quite amusing and engaging, all the way through to the end. It wasn’t great, but it was a good almost-hour-and-a-half of levity, and a wonderful pick-me-up, should you need one. I don’t really know what else to say about it, other than that I was mildly surprised by how much I liked the film, the title be damned. I don’t know if this really earned its spot on the list; it rather seems to be there as an arbitrary inclusion of Ealing comedies, but I’m glad it was, since I likely would never have seen this otherwise.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10