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Whisky Galore! (1949)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime | 25 December 1949 (USA)
1:03 | Trailer
Scottish islanders try to plunder 50,000 cases of whisky from a stranded ship.


Compton MacKenzie (novel) (as Compton Mackenzie), Compton MacKenzie (screenplay) (as Compton Mackenzie) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Basil Radford ... Captain Paul Waggett
Catherine Lacey ... Mrs. Waggett
Bruce Seton ... Sergeant Odd
Joan Greenwood ... Peggy Macroon
Wylie Watson ... Joseph Macroon
Gabrielle Blunt Gabrielle Blunt ... Catriona Macroon
Gordon Jackson ... George Campbell
Jean Cadell ... Mrs. Campbell
James Robertson Justice ... Dr. Maclaren
Morland Graham Morland Graham ... The Biffer
John Gregson ... Sammy MacCodrun
James Woodburn James Woodburn ... Roderick MacRurie
James Anderson James Anderson ... Old Hector
Jameson Clark Jameson Clark ... Constable Macrae
Duncan Macrae ... Angus MacCormac


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 | Plot Synopsis


A Highland fling on a tight little island See more »


Comedy | Crime


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The initial editing had been done by Joseph Sterling, who was relatively inexperienced. Another of Ealing's directors, Charles Crichton, shot more footage at Ealing Studios and re-edited the film closer to the version Mackendrick had produced. Crichton said "All I did was put the confidence back in the film". The Crichton version was the one released to cinemas. See more »


When Captain Waggett telephones the Post Office, he is unable to get through to the switchboard operator. Seconds later, he is speaking to Mistress Campbell. He could not possibly do so without the Post Office switchboard connecting him. See more »


Joseph Macroon: [on hearing Waggett's half-hearted and inadequate attempts to utter a single phrase in Gaelic] Aye, ye have the Gaelic fine.
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 »


Referenced in Titanic (1997) See more »


The MacaPhee song
Played at the engagement party
See more »

User Reviews

The Password Is Whisky!
20 December 2011 | by hitchcockthelegendSee 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

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English | Scottish Gaelic

Release Date:

25 December 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Whisky Galore See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ealing Studios See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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