The skipper of a tatty coastal 'puffer' boat cons an American into letting "The Maggie" carry a cargo to a Scottish island. The American soon realises he's been conned but can he stop them ? Written by
Steve Crook <email@example.com>
I've watched and enjoyed most of Ealing's classic comedies several times over the years but, along with THE MAGNET (1950), the film under review was one which had eluded me thus far. The main reason for this, perhaps, is the fact that THE MAGGIE is hardly ever discussed when the studio's golden age is mentioned which is even more remarkable when one realizes that the film was nominated for 3 major British Film Awards in its day; having now caught up with it, all I can say is that it has been unjustly neglected for far too long.
This amiably droll little film, full of the typically wry but gentle humor found in British comedies of its time, deals with a wealthy American businessman (an ideally-cast Paul Douglas) who is tricked by a group of old Scottish seamen (headed by a terrific Alex Mackenzie, whose first film this was, as the skipper) into chartering their ramshackle boat to carry a cargo of valuable furniture to his new summer residence in the British isles which he purchased as a surprise to his wife.
The trouble is that Douglas, forever expecting promptness and efficiency from his subordinates, is hardly equipped to cope with the devious plans of the wily Scots who treasure their own jolly company and a good stiff drink above everything else…as the various detours they take along the way - poaching, pub-hopping, a 100-year birthday party, visits to nearby cousins, etc. - prove only too well to the increasingly exasperated Yankee. The cast is rounded out by some old reliables like Geoffrey Keen and an unrecognizably young Andrew Keir and valuable contributions are also provided by Hubert Clegg (as Douglas' befuddled secretary) and the child Tommy Kearins (as Mackenzie's fiercely loyal cabin boy).
Ultimately, while perhaps not among Ealing's or director Alexander Mackendrick's very best, THE MAGGIE is certainly very enjoyable in itself and can now be seen as not only a worthy companion piece to Ealing's WHISKY GALORE! (1949) - also directed by Mackendrick and dealing with the crafty Sots, not to mention my own personal favorite among the Ealing comedies - but also another of those fondly-remembered British comedies dealing with motor vehicles of some kind like Ealing's own THE TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT (1953; trains) and GENEVIEVE (1953; motor cars).
Once more, Optimum Releasing included a short featurette with film historian George Perry and, unfortunately, as had been the case with IT ALWAYS RAINS ON Sunday (1947), I again encountered some playback problems during the course of the film on my Pioneer DVD player but, as usual, my cheap HB model came to the rescue.
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