USA Release date: 17th February 1983
Watched on DVD Friday 28th September 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This is essentially my original review from back in July 2011 with a few additions – Enjoy!
This is one of my all-time favourite comedies; not only for the gentle understated script, but also for the beautiful haunting score by Mark Knopfler. It picked a few awards in its time, amongst them, Bill Forsyth won the 1984 BAFTA for Best Direction and Mark Knopfler was nominated for Best Score. Here’s a brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
Knox Oil in Houston, Texas is exploring for oil in the North Sea and need a site for a new refinery. A stretch of coastline is selected but it is inhabited and so they send young executive MacIntyre out to make a deal with the locals. It seems the locals already know he is coming and are keen to make a deal. The local accountant Gordon Urquhart agrees to liaison with the villagers leaving MacIntyre to enjoy the scenery. Over time he falls in love with the place, but knows he’s there to do a job. With agreement looming they hit a sticking point when they discover that the beach is owned by the local beachcomber, Ben. Unable to persuade him, MacIntyre’s boss, Felix Happer arrives to conclude matters. Could this mean the end for the beautiful fishing village, or is there another twist in the tale? Of course I’m not going to tell you here or them Spoiler Police will be taking me for a ride in a boat.
Having recently purchased this copy on DVD I was keen to see how it would look. It does take a little time to get used to the stereo sound (I’m so used to seeing them in Dolby 5.1 these days). I found the script much more subtle than I had noticed before. Apart from the obvious comic elements, I got much more out of it this time around. Great performances all round; Peter Riegert did a good job as MacIntyre, as did Denis Lawson as Gordon Urquhart. I should also mention Burt Lancaster, who did a sterling job as Felix Happer and Fulton Mackay who was really great as Ben. And finally, an early role for a young Peter Capaldi as Danny Oldsen, better known these days for his role in the TV series The Thick of It, and the 2009 film, In the Loop. There are many others I would like to mention, but I would be here all day if I did.
It does look a little dated and it’s very obvious there wasn’t much of a budget to play with after Mr Lancaster had been paid. But even so, it’s still a fine piece of work and one I would be very happy to watch several more times in years to come. There is one thing I wasn’t all that impressed with and that’s the incidental pieces of music that sound like they were played on a Stylophone. Don’t get me wrong; I’m most certainly not talking about Mark Knopfler’s wonderful theme, you’ll know what I mean when you hear it. Other than That I found it absolutely fine! I found it interesting to watch MacIntyre and how his appearance subtly changes throughout the film, I love that way that was done. But enough of my prattlings, I think you’ve probably already guessed…
SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
My score: 9.1/10
IMDb Score: 7.4/10 (based on 528,180 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: No Data: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 57/100 ‘Want to See’ (based on 7,120 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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[approaching Ben Knox's beach shanty]
Mac MacIntyre: Where's the door here?
Gordon Urquhart: There is no door. Just knock on the window.
Mac MacIntyre: How do you do business with a man who has no door?
Victor: The ethics are just the same.
Townsman: Are you sure there are two l's in dollar, Gideon?
Gideon: Yes! An' there are two g's in bugger off!
Victor: How are things? I heard about the ceilihd.
Gordon Urquhart: Oh, we've lots to tell you. We've been invaded by America. We're all gonna be rich.
Gordon Urquhart: We won't have anywhere to call home, but we'll be stinkin' rich.
MacIntyre: What's the most amazing thing you've ever found?
Ben Knox: Impossible to say. You see, there's something amazing every two or three weeks.
MacIntyre: [desperate to make the deal] Look, how much do you want?
Ben Knox: [fills his hands with sand] Would you pay me a pound for every grain of sand in my hand?
[drops some sand]
Ben Knox: Ah, well, that saves you some. Well, would you do it?
MacIntyre: No. Of course not.
Ben Knox: Ah, well that's a pity. You missed out on a good bargain, for I can only hold about ten thousand grains of sand in my hands. Did you think it would be more?