Whisky Galore (1949)
"Whisky Galore!" (original title)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Crime  |  25 December 1949 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 3,265 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 32 critic

Scottish islanders try to plunder 50,000 cases of whisky from a stranded ship.


(novel) (as Compton Mackenzie) , (screenplay) (as Compton Mackenzie) , 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Basil Radford ...
Catherine Lacey ...
Bruce Seton ...
Peggy Macroon
Joseph Macroon
Gabrielle Blunt ...
Jean Cadell ...
Dr. Maclaren
Morland Graham ...
The Biffer
John Gregson ...
Sammy Mac Codrun
James Woodburn ...
James Anderson ...
Old Hector
Jameson Clark ...
Duncan Macrae ...
Angus Mc Cormac


Based on a true story. The name of the real ship, that sunk Feb 5 1941 - during WWII - was S/S Politician. Having left Liverpool two days earlier, heading for Jamaica, it sank outside Eriskay, The Outer Hebrides, Scotland, in bad weather, containing 250,000 bottles of whisky. The locals gathered as many bottles as they could, before the proper authorities arrived, and even today, bottles are found in the sand or in the sea every other year. Written by Jörg Ausfelt <joerg.ausfelt@telia.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


It's Light... It's Bright... It's 100 Proof! See more »


Comedy | Crime


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Release Date:

25 December 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tight Little Island  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Local islanders were hired as extras for £1 a day. See more »


During the very long chase near the end, the light is not consistent with the passing night hours - the chase starts off at night, reaches dawn when some crates fall from the truck, is then even early daylight briefly as seen from the car following behind, but then it is suddenly very dark at night again when the chasing car is finally halted by the barb-wire trap. See more »


Narrator: [describing the inhabitants of Todday as children run out of a cottage] A happy people, with few and simple pleasures.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: By a strange coincidence the S.S. Cabinet Minister was wrecked off the island of Todday [in the movie] two years after the S.S. Politician, with a similar cargo, was wrecked [in real life] off the Island of Eriskay. But the coincidence stops there, for our story and the characters in it are pure fiction. See more »


Brochan Lom, Tana Lom
Sung when the whisky is first being shared out
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User Reviews

The Password Is Whisky!
20 December 2011 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Out of Ealing Studios, Whisky Galore! is directed by Alexander Mackendrick and adapted to screenplay by Compton Mackenzie (novel also) and Angus MacPhail. It stars Basil Radford, Wylie Watson, Catherine Lacey, Bruce Seton, Joan Greenwood and Gabrielle Blunt. Music is by Ernest Irving and cinematography by Gerald Gibbs.

When a ship with a cargo of 50,000 bottles of whisky is shipwrecked near the Outer Hebrides island of Todday, the villagers, out of their whisky rations, set about pillaging as much of it as they can before the authorities take control.

Of the many thematic successes that Ealing Studios worked from, one of the highlights was the theme of a community rallying together to thwart an oppressive force. Reference Passport to Pimlico, The Titfield Thunderbolt and Whisky Galore! The latter of which was worked from a true story. In 1941 the cargo ship SS Politician was shipwrecked near the island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides, its main cargo of whisky and Jamaican shilling notes was mostly salvaged by the islanders. Ealing's take on the general story is condensed down to being an ode to anti authoritarianism and drink! With joyous results.

Filmed on location close to Eriskay at Barra, the production had to overcome creative differences and awful weather to become the wonderful finished product. In fact the production went well over budget, a big no no on Ealing terms. Creative difference came between co-producer Monja Danischewsky and rookie director Mackendrick, where the former was firmly on the side of the islanders' pillage tactics, and the latter siding with Home Guard Captain Waggett's (Radford) feeble attempt to keep order. Danischewsky won out, where in spite of a code enforced epilogue, film plays out rooting for the islanders, gaining much humour from Waggett being an Englishman who is completely at odds with what he sees as the Scottish islanders anarchic behaviour.

The Water Of Life.

The community of Todday is bound by its love of whisky, makers extract quality mirth by presenting the sorrow brought about by the whisky running dry, only to then have the islanders lives perked up by the stricken fate of the ship carrying "the water of life". How the people react to the news of the ships cargo, how they set about purloining said cargo and how they hide said cargo from the authorities, is what brings the joy to Whisky Galore! Rarely has a cinematic treatment to larceny been so sweet and deftly handled as it is here. There's even an aside to class distinction, a nod to religious conformity and two lightly (unobtrusive) portrayed romances within the story. And with a cast bang on form, notably Radford, Watson and the gorgeous Greenwood, it rounds out as one of Ealing's most smartest and joyous comedies.

It gladdened the hearts of many back on release as Britain continued to rebuild after the war, that it still entertains new observers even today is testament to Whisky Galore's lasting appeal. 9.5/10

5 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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