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Whisky Galore (1949) Poster

(1949)

Trivia

Ronald Neame turned down the chance to direct.
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In France, the film was called "Whisky a Go-Go". This proved so popular a title, it became the name of one of the leading Parisian nightclubs.
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The story was based on a real-life incident that occurred in 1941 on the Hebridean island of Eriskay when the SS Politician ran aground. The tale of how a group of local Scottish islanders raided a shipwreck for its consignment of 24,000 cases of whisky quickly became legend. What's less well reported, however, was the fact that the ship was also carrying a sizeable amount of hard cash. According to official files recently released by the Home Office, there was nearly 290,000 ten shilling notes on board as well (this would be the equivalent of several million pounds at today's prices), not all of which was ever recovered.
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American censors insisted on a coda being inserted at the end of the film, stating that the stolen whisky brought nothing but unhappiness to the islanders, even though quite the opposite was true in real life.
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James Thurber suggested that the film be called "Scotch on the Rocks".
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In the US, the novel and film were titled "Tight Little Island" as there was a ban at the time on using names of alcoholic drinks in titles.
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In the original novel, the island was populated with both Catholics and Calvinists. The Catholics were dropped from the film as they would have had no trouble with not observing the Sabbath to salvage the whisky-laden ship.
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Part of the film's appeal to British audiences in the late '40s was that wartime rationing was still in place and times were very austere. The film's flaunting attitude towards authority obviously struck a chord.
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The first Ealing comedy to achieve some measure of box office success in the USA. It was followed within 12 months by Passport to Pimlico (1949) and Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949), quickly establishing Ealing as a leading light of comedy films.
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Ealing chief Michael Balcon was furious at how expensive the film was becoming (in excess of £20,000) until he finally saw the initial footage.
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The main reason for the film going dramatically so over budget was not director Alexander Mackendrick's inexperience (this was his first film) but the appalling weather that the production had to endure, 1948's summer being one of the worst on record.
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Another reason why the film was shot on location was because all the Ealing Studios were filled with other productions at the time.
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Fourteen whisky bottles, said to be the last surviving from the wreck of the SS Politician, the real-life shipwreck that inspired the film, were sold in 1993 at a Glasgow auction for £12,012 (approximately $22,500 at 2006 conversion rates), with a bottle of Haig Dimple fetching £1,210 (the equivalent of $2,270).
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Monja Danischewsky had been working as a publicist for Ealing Studios and was bored with his job. To stop him from leaving, Michael Balcon gave him the task of producing this film.
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The sets were pre-built at Ealing Studios and then shipped up to Scotland. They were then constructed in a village hall for the frequent occasions when it was too wet to put them up outside.
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Local islanders were hired as extras for £1 a day.
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Joan Greenwood was a trained ballet dancer but couldn't come to grips with the Hebridean style of dancing, so a local dancer was used for close-ups of her feet.
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The plywood mock-up of the SS Cabinet Minister sank before filming had even started.
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Debuting director Alexander Mackendrick's background was in advertising where he used the technique of storyboarding. He did this for this picture, making it the first Ealing film to be storyboarded.
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Producer Michael Balcon was a bit thrown when a visiting American film executive saw the film and described it as a 'sleeper'. A term not known to Balcon at the time, he thought the executive meant it would put the audience to sleep.
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Alexander Mackendrick later described his direction of the film as "amateurish".
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The clip used for the sinking of the SS Cabinet Minister is the same as that used for the sinking of the Jervis Bay in the film San Demetrio London (1943).
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Eight bottles of whiskey were recovered in 1987 by Donald MacPhee, of South Uist, when he explored the wreck. He sold them at auction at Christie's for a total of £4,000.
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Shot on the island of Barra, which boasts Britain's most unique airport - the runway is the beach.
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Ironically, the making-of documentary featured on the DVD/Blu-ray editions, "Distilling Whisky", cost the same amount of money to make as the film itself - £121,000.
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Shot in three months.
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The shipwreck that brings whisky to the isle of Todday happens 20 minutes into the film. In the original novel, it occurs halfway through.
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The author of the original novel, Compton MacKenzie, plays the captain of the ship that runs aground on the island. In reality, Mackenzie took great exception to the number of takes that director Alexander Mackendrick made him do.
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Alexander Mackendrick insisted on making the film entirely on location, an unusual move for Ealing Studios.
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Producer Monja Danischewsky originally wanted Charles Crichton to direct.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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