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Local Hero (1983)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | 17 March 1983 (UK)
An American oil company sends a man to Scotland to buy up an entire village where they want to build a refinery. But things don't go as expected.


Bill Forsyth


Bill Forsyth

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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Burt Lancaster ... Felix Happer
Peter Riegert ... Mac
Fulton Mackay ... Ben
Denis Lawson ... Urquhart
Norman Chancer Norman Chancer ... Moritz
Peter Capaldi ... Oldsen
Rikki Fulton Rikki Fulton ... Geddes
Alex Norton ... Watt
Jenny Seagrove ... Marina
Jennifer Black Jennifer Black ... Stella
Christopher Rozycki Christopher Rozycki ... Victor
Gyearbuor Asante Gyearbuor Asante ... Rev Macpherson (as Christopher Asante)
John M. Jackson ... Cal (as John Jackson)
Dan Ammerman ... Donaldson
Tam Dean Burn Tam Dean Burn ... Roddy


Oil billionaire Happer sends Mac to a remote Scottish village to secure the property rights for an oil refinery they want to build. Mac teams up with Danny and starts the negotiations, the locals are keen to get their hands on the 'Silver Dollar' and can't believe their luck. However, a local hermit and beach scavenger, Ben Knox, lives in a shack on the crucial beach which he also owns. Happer is more interested in the Northern Lights and Danny in a surreal girl with webbed feet, Marina. Mac is used to a Houston office with fax machines but is forced to negotiate on Bens terms. Written by Matthew Stanfield <mattst@cogs.susx.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A beautiful coastline... A rich oil man wants to develop it. A poor beach bum wants to live on it. An entire town wants to profit by it. And a real-live mermaid wants to save it... Only one of them will get their way.


Comedy | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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English | Russian | Japanese

Release Date:

17 March 1983 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

A kisvárosi hõs See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$23,567, 21 February 1983

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The building Happer leaves for Scotland from is the former Texas Commerce Bank Tower (JP Morgan Chase Tower as of 2006). In the background is the Jesse H. Jones Hall for the Perfoming Arts. See more »


Mac's facial hair is constantly changing between shots throughout the film. See more »


Watt: [referring to Marina] She's got a magnificent pair of lungs
Geddes: Oh, yes. A great asset. Five degrees in Oceanography and a very talented programmer. I'll get rid of her when she surfaces. She's not in on this Ferness thing yet. Actually she's better in the field.
See more »

Alternate Versions

CBS edited 14 minutes from this film for its 1987 network television premiere. See more »


Referenced in The Secret World of Alex Mack: Local Hero (1996) See more »


Wild Theme
Written by Mark Knopfler
Performed by Mark Knopfler and Alan Clark
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Offbeat humor and charm
22 September 2003 | by howard.schumannSee all my reviews

In Local Hero, Scottish director Bill Forsyth allows us to see the environment not as something to possess or control but as a privilege granted to all. A young corporate executive for a Texas Oil Company, Mac MacIntyre (Peter Reigert), is sent to a small fishing village on the coast of Scotland to work out plans to buy a piece of coastal property that includes the entire town as a drilling site. The great Burt Lancaster plays Mac's boss, Felix Happer, a starry-eyed tycoon of Knox Gas and Oil who is more interested in the stars and getting rid of Moritz (Norman Chancer), his "abuse therapist" than his business. Strangely, he asks Mac to keep an eye on the constellation Virgo when he reaches Scotland to see if he can see a comet in its vicinity.

MacIntyre meets up with his Scottish partner Danny Oldsen (Peter Capaldi) and they rent a room at an inn run by the local accountant Gordon Urquhart (Denis Lawson) and his wife Stella (Jennifer Black). Eventually, Mac and Danny settle in and get to know the town, walking the beach, talking to the black pastor of the village church, and meeting the idiosyncratic villagers. Mac slowly and without any expectations develops an attachment to the town and its people while Danny falls for Marina (Jenny Seagrove), a marine biologist with webbed feet who dreams of building a laboratory for biological research.

When Urquhart agrees to act as the intermediary between MacIntyre and the locals in the negotiations, we are set up to expect the ruthless exploitation of country folk by the big city capitalists. Ironically however, it is the villagers who are captivated by the prospect of the money and more aggressive in its pursuit than Big Mac. The deal seems ready to be consummated when it is discovered that Old Ben (Fulton MacKay), who lives in a shack on the beach, actually owns six miles of beach property and does not want to sell. When the townspeople threaten to turn into an ugly mob, Happer arrives from Houston in his helicopter to add the final twist to a most unpredictable plot.

Local Hero creeps up on you slowly then delivers its payoff so convincingly that, by the end, you feel as if you have a lifelong relationship with the characters. Mac's transformation from being a corporate sycophant to a caring individual who experiences a sense of belonging, perhaps for the first time, is one of the great pleasures of the film and reminded me of a similar transformation in Kiarostami's The Wind Will Carry Us. Supported by a wonderful score by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits and beautifully photographed by Chris Menges, the film captivates with its offbeat humor and charm and reminds us of what it means to be human without resorting to sentimentality. If technology is seen as an imminent threat to humans, Local Hero allows us to focus our attention upon that which is most threatened: respect for people's individuality, reverence for the land, the sea, and the sky -- and really good Scotch whiskey.

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