June 16, 1949 in UK cinemas: Whisky Galore!

“A HIGHLAND FLING ON A TIGHT LITTLE ISLAND”

MCDTILI EC004Whisky Galore! is a British comedy film produced by Ealing Studios starring Basil Radford, Bruce Seton, Joan Greenwood and Gordon Jackson. It was the directorial debut of Alexander Mackendrick; the screenplay was by Compton MacKenzie, based on his 1947 novel Whisky Galore. The story – based on a true event – concerns a shipwreck off a fictional Scottish island, the inhabitants of which have run out of whisky; the islanders find out the ship is carrying 50,000 cases of whisky, which they salvage, against the opposition of the local Customs and Excise men.

Like others of the Ealing comedies, Whisky Galore! explores the actions of a small insular group facing and overcoming a more powerful opponent. It was filmed on the island of Barra; the weather was so poor that the production over-ran its 10-week schedule by five weeks, and the film went £20,000 over budget. The initial cut of the film was considered poor by Michael Balcon, the head of the studio, so one of Ealing’s directors, Charles Crichton, added additional footage and re-edited the film prior to its release.

Cinema-UK-06-16-1949

Whisky Galore! was well-received on its release. It came out in the same year as Passport to Pimlico and Kind Hearts and Coronets, leading to 1949 being remembered as one of the peak years of the Ealing comedies. In the US, where Whisky Galore! was renamed Tight Little Island, the film became the first from Ealing Studios to achieve box office success. It was followed by a sequel, Rockets Galore!. [Wikipedia]

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