The Maggie (High and Dry) Reviews
March 10, 2014
The Maggie or 'High and Dry' as it's also known as, is one of the later and lesser known Ealing Comedies. It's a simple premise but full of as much charm as you can get in a comedy. The Maggie's rag-tag crew are what makes the film, no less so than the Skipper played perfectly by Alex Mackenzie. Director Alexander Mackendrick is remembered for many of his other, more successful films such as The Man in the White Suit, The Ladykillers and Sweet Smell of Success but The Maggie is his greatest achievement when it comes to timing, pace and editing in my opinion. Nothing is rushed and everything is subtle, the action happens five seconds after you expect, adding to the overall charm and comedy of the story. An unappreciated gem.
February 13, 2014
The Maggie is one of Ealing Studios finest comedies. It is director Alexander MacKendrick's take on modern versus traditional views in Scotland after the 2d WW and on American corporate values in Britain. The interplay is quite interesting, when one considers that MacKendrick was an American who was raised in Scotland and eventually returned to live in the U.S.
One senses a longing on the part of the writer, William Rose, for a vanishing coastal Scotland, and all the values that were incorporated by that rural society.
The story began as others in Glasgow represented new values and the Captain of the Maggie, played by Alex MacKenzie, and his crew encountered problems in this urban atmosphere in which they were so out of play.
The lead character, called the American and played Paul Douglas, was an even greater displacement for the crew of the Maggie but could even be seen as pushing along his own employees as he referred to some as being incompetent and one mentioned that when she sought to leave he doubled her salary. He believed that his modern fixations with time being an obsession and money being of paramount importance were even somewhat much for the Scottish in Glasgow of the early 1950s.
The comedy works because, the American and his employees are forced to adopt to a mode of life in which we can all empathize. Although the Maggie's captain is a bit of a scoundrel, his purpose is never self profit, it is merely to keep his ship operating.
The American who is defrauded, and he is without a doubt, has vindictive motives, is overbearing and does not gain any sympathy until he undergoes a series of humiliating experiences, most of which are surprisingly instigated by the cabin boy, who would be the hero if there was one.
Some comments regarding the cabin boy. The lad certainly is the catalyst for much of the action that causes the plot to move. To reveal too much would be inappropriate, however, it suffices to say that the arrest of the assistant, the dock, the washboard and so forth were all at this instigation. It does make the one weakness in the plot construction as it is a bit too convenient and easy for my taste. That said, it does work doesn't it.
All in all, a wonderful movie.
February 13, 2014
Wonderful little film about the old steam 'puffers' that used to ply their trade up and down Scotland's west (and possibly east) coast. It's a slow-burner and none the worse for that. Let the film and the glorious scenery take you away in its own good time, which after all is the central point of the movie, along with a few subtle things to say about brash, fast-paced life. It includes a memorable scene of a Céilidh (gathering, often with music and dance) that is a genuine rarity in its authenticity. Film lovers may be more familiar with better known classics like Whisky Galore (also directed by Alexander MacKendrick) and Powell & Pressburger's I Know Where I'm Going, but The Maggie is not to be dismissed. Just make sure you're not in a rush. Make yourself a drink and put your feet up. Sweetly whimsical, it's a rare gem.
May 1, 2012
When a powerful American transport magnate is conned into using an unseaworthy rust-bucket captained by a drunken but wily old Scotsman to ship furniture to his dream home on a Scottish island there is only going to be one winner, and the script for this film must practically have written itself. But it is a beautifully made film - with fascinating location shots, and a wonderful cast. The screenplay is nicely balanced - as although Calvin B Marshall is destined to be taken down a peg or two he is a fundamentally decent chap, while Captain Mactaggart is an out and out rascal who stops off at every inn en route (and off route). Though both lead actors turn in fine performance it is perhaps Tommy Kearins, playing the "wee boy", and the scene of a Gaelic 100th birthday party that really make the film something special. This deserves to be at least as well known as Alexander Mackendrick's three other Ealing comedies.