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Whisky Galore! and The Maggie Blu-ray Review


A double dose of Ealing Studios classics.

Thanks to Film Movement, 2 Ealing Studios classics directed by Alexander Mackendrick have now been released on Blu-ray. The first and most prominent title on this set is the 1949 film “Whisky Galore!” (which is often cited as one of the best British films). Set on a Scottish island (Toddy) during WWII, the central conflict involves an outage of whisky in this religious tight-knit community. The town gets an answer to their prayers, however, when it is discovered that a nearby shipwreck carries a cargo of 50,000 cases of whisky. The townspeople devise a plot to steal as much as whisky as possible and stealthily store it around town, but will the by-the-book English commander Capt. Waggett catch them?

“Whisky Galore!” is an ensemble wartime comedy that is also part heist movie. Although there is minimal characterization aside from Waggett and the overbearing schoolteacher’s mother, it really doesn’t matter as the movie is all about a community. Under the guidance of director Alexander Mackendrick, you really get a sense of place and time with this movie as the townspeople come together to try and find a solution to their crisis (AKA a lack of whisky). The town is filled with quirky characters and drama that make up for any character shortcomings. Could the ending have been a bit less rushed? Sure, but I appreciate the fact that it’s a fast paced and tight 80 minute film with no filler whatsoever.

1954’s “The Maggie” (AKA “High and Dry”) is a much different film from “Whisky Galore!” and is indeed more character oriented. In this story about judgments, business, and classic, the plot revolves around the broke Captain of the rundown titular Puffer cargo boat who, through a series of circumstances, manages to get a high profile cargo job for a businessman (Calvin). Once it is revealed what really happened, the crew of The Maggie find themselves in a heap of trouble, but Calvin changes his tune a bit once he gets to know the crew more.

Billed as a comedy, “The Maggie” isn’t likely to elicit guffaws, but that’s perfectly fine as it works as a small, intimate, character centric comedy that contains likable characters, a well written script by William Rose, assured direction by Mackendrick, and a host of memorable performances from Paul Douglas (Calvin), (Alex Mackenzie (Capt. MacTaggart), Tommy Kearins (Dougie the kid). 


Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How do they look? Both films boast fantastic B&W transfers for the most part. I did notice lines present on “The Maggie” in a few spots but it didn’t detract from an otherwise impressive transfer.

Audio Track: LPCM 2.0 Mono. How do they sound? Expect crisp Mono audio tracks from both films. 

* Trailers for “Passport To Pimlico” and “The Titfield Thunderbolt.”
* “Distilling Whisky Galore!”- A 54 documentary featuring interviews and behind-the-scenes stories.
* “The Real Whisky Galore!”- A 20 minute interview about the incident that influenced the movie.
* An insightful commentary by John Ellis on “Whisky Galore!”
* A booklet featuring credits, photos, and notes on the 2 films by author Ronald Bergan. 

March 29, 2020 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , ,

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