I Know Where I'm Going!


I Know Where I'm Going!

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Total Count: 12


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While awaiting access to England's Technicolor cameras for their upcoming super-production Stairway to Heaven, the producer-director team of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger dashed off a delightful "personal" project, I Know Where I'm Going. Young middle-class Englishwoman Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller) is determined to have the finer things in life, and to that end she plans to marry Sir Robert Bellinger (Norman Shelley), a wealthy, middle-aged industrialist whom she does not love. En route to the Island of Mull, where her future husband resides, Joan is stranded in a colorful Scottish seacoast town. Inclement weather keeps her grounded for a week, during which time she falls in love with young, insouciant naval officer Torquil McNeil (Roger Livesey). Ignoring the dictates of her heart (not to mention common sense), Joan stubbornly insists upon heading out to sea towards her marriage of convenience, but the exigencies of Mother Nature finally convince her that her future resides on the Mainland. A winner all the way, I Know Where I'm Going is full of large and small delights, including a wonderful sense of regional detail and endearing, three-dimensional characterizations (even the mercenary heroine is a likeable character). The film is easily one of the best of the Powell-Pressburger films of the 1940s, and arguably the team's all-time best romantic drama.


Wendy Hiller
as Joan Webster
Roger Livesey
as Torquil MacNeil
Pamela Brown
as Catriona
Finlay Currie
as Ruairidh Mhór
Nancy Price
as Mrs. Crozier
John Laurie
as John Campbell
Norman Shelley
as Sir Robert Bellinger
George Carney
as Mr. Webster
Capt. Duncan MacKechnie
as Captain of "Lochinvar"
Capt. C.W.R. Knight
as Col. Barnstaple
Jean Cadell
as Postmistress
Catherine Lacey
as Mrs. Robinson
Valentine Dyall
as Mr. Robinson
Herbert Lomas
as Mr. Campbell
Graham Moffatt
as RAF Sergeant
Duncan McKechnie
as Capt. Lochinvar
C.W.R. Knight
as Col. Barnstaple
John Rae
as Old Shepherd
Kitty Kirwan
as Mrs. Campbell
Arthur Chesney
as Harmonica Player
Boyd Stevens
as Singer in the Céilidh
Maxwell Kennedy
as Singer in the Céilidh
Jean Houston
as Singer in the Céilidh
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Critic Reviews for I Know Where I'm Going!

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (12)

Audience Reviews for I Know Where I'm Going!

  • Jul 15, 2012
    Scotland and her people are the unbilled background charm of this typical romance that occurs for our heroine while she's invested to marry a millionaire and the life of luxury that money can buy. Its fun that the mid-1940's Britain can seem so exotic while being so familiar.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 14, 2011
    By all accounts and measures, I Know Where I'm Going is an assembly line romantic comedy. If there's any elevation to be found here (which I think there is), it's all due to Pressburger's tight script and Powell's inventive directing. This film is nothing to write home about, but it would have been a lot worse, and a lot less notable if it weren't in the hands of one cinema's greatest filmmaking teams.
    Jonathan H Super Reviewer
  • Feb 10, 2011
    Powell and Pressburger's romance of the Scottish isles has Wendy Hiller as Joan Webster, seeking money and a marriage of advantage to the (unseen) Sir Robert, out on the mysterious isle of Killoran. Of course, the Scottish climate makes sure she breaks her journey, which is where the dashing laird Torquil (Roger Livesey) comes in, with falcons, fog-bound locations, and sinister family curses. Perhaps the best scene of all is at the Campbell's wedding anniversary ceildh, where Torquil translates a Gaelic ballad for Joan. This is a black and white vision of a heavenly Scotland which probably never existed, but in Powell's expert direction that doesn't matter. Lovely.
    Cassandra M Super Reviewer
  • Nov 30, 2010
    Romantic drama is a hard genre to get right, both on paper and on screen. Some are so light and frothy that they leave no lasting impression; others, like The Snows of Kilimanjaro, are overblown, overwrought and in most cases over-long. I Know Where I'm Going! is a textbook example of how to do this sort of film properly, taking a relatively simple story and making it memorable through a series of strong performances, a great script and remarkable direction. One of the common criticisms laid against romantic films, whether dramatic or comedic, is that they lack substance, relying on the charm of the performers to take an audience's mind off a highly clichéd or conventional premise. But while that criticism may carry a certain weight with regard to more recent rom-coms, it can't be fairly levelled against I Know Where I'm Going!. This is not because of the film's age, or its positioning in the golden age of melodramas. It is instead because the film is subtly inventive, adding precious moments of surprise in its every twist and turn. I Know Where I'm Going! begins with a woman setting off to marry the man of her dreams, who is rich, powerful, influential and lives in the magical land of Scotland. These early scenes, with Wendy Hiller in full-on daddy's-little-girl mode, explore the age-old desire of young girls to be princesses and ride off into the sunset with a handsome prince. The twist, however, is that Joan Webster is not your average girly princess: she is a driven, ambitious woman who has known what she has wanted all her life. The opening credits explore her childhood in the manner of a BBC newsreel, showing a series of clear turning points underscored by Home Service narration. If the character of Joan Webster were to turn up in a film today, she would most likely be characterised as having OCD or some form of neurosis. Perhaps she would have been a suitable soul-mate for Jack Nicholson at the start of As Good As It Gets. She has her entire life planned out meticulously, knowing exactly what and who she wants and how she intends to get it. Her constant desire to get to the island comes as much from her compulsive urge to be punctual as the desire to meet the man she is marrying. For the first ten minutes the film confronts this idea in a very broad, head-on way. We see Wendy Hiller in the railway carriage pouring over her routine, behaving in a very controlled and restrained manner. But for the rest of the film Emeric Pressburger's script explores her character and surroundings much more subtly. Superficially, the story of I Know Where I'm Going! seems very predictable - put simply, there's not that many men on the island. But the film plays out economically and keeps its emotions and dialogue in check, giving us a number of pleasant surprises along the way. The film is very good at planting seeds of doubt in Webster's mind, and demonstrating her infuriation at seeing her planned perfection disrupted. These disruptions start off very small, with her oversleeping and having to carry her clothes off the train in a heap. As the weather delays her trip to Kiloran, she slowly but surely begins to adjust to the landscape, even if she doesn't find herself warming to the place until the final reel. When she finally hears her fiancée on the radio, she assumes there is something wrong with his voice and asks him if he has a cold. These little moments don't seem like much when they first play out, but as the plot unfolds their significance becomes clear. Like many of their other films, I Know Where I'm Going! sees Powell and Pressburger dabbling in fantasy and applying magic to an otherwise realistic setting. These dabbles begin on the train to Glasgow, when Webster is sleeping with her wedding dress hanging in a see-through case above her. Suddenly the dress disappears and we move into her fantasy of being married - albeit jokingly, since she is being married to her fiancée's company, thanks to her father's confusion. Later in the same scene we see the train passing through tunnels made of tartan while the narrator whispers the chorus to 'The Bonnie Banks o'Loch Lomond'. The film draws on a number of mythical elements which give depth and credibility to the situation. These range from the Laird's story about the Viking ship which anchored in the whirlpool Corryvreckan, to the practice of counting the beams and making a wish on the first night spent in a new room. To some extent these follow in the tradition started by Sir Walter Scott and carried on in Brigadoon, since they paint a fanciful portrait of the Highlands and Outer Hebrides. But the film is not entirely a tourists'-eye-view, and is populated with enough believable supporting characters to stop things drifting too far into fantasy. Although it seems an odd comparison, the story of I Know Where I'm Going! is not all that far removed from that of The Wicker Man nearly 30 years later. Both films centre on an individual who comes to a remote Scottish community driven by a singular urge to find someone. Both Joan Webster and Sergeant Howie are outsiders in this community and cannot comprehend its way of life - although the former doesn't have to put up with pagan worship or naked dancing. The central similarity, however, is that the goal of their respective characters is essentially a McGuffin. Just as the girl in The Wicker Man never really went missing, so we never meet Lord Beringer, or get to count his money. He might as well not exist, for his only function is to bring her to the island, and the weather does the rest in managing to keep her there. The mythical elements of the film are ultimately what lift it out of being predictable fare. The stories which Torquil regales to his guests include a tale about a rope being made of virginal hair which would never break, since true love is stronger than anything. The sub-plot surrounding the curse gives his character a sense of mystery, so that we enjoy their relationship while picking our brain as to what this curse could be. One of the best scenes in the film sees Torquil and Webster arguing on the stairs about the local customs and the latter's decision to go out in a gale to get to the island. When our leads do finally get together, their entanglement with the curse makes it seem a whole lot less contrived, while raising the question of whether their love was chance intervening on fate or fate playing out in a different way than they had intended. I Know Where I'm Going! has impressive production values for a film of its time and budget. The storm scenes, where the boat flounders and drifts into a whirlpool, are impressively executed. You do feel like you are in the boat with the characters, with the spray soaking your face and the boat lurching one way and then the other. Capturing the whirlpool and the boat involved a lot of complicated editing, with multiple location long-shots being spliced together with model shots and studio shoots in which the cast were doused in buckets of icy water. All Powell's efforts pay off, creating a storm sequence which is gripping and inventive. The performances are also of a high calibre. Wendy Hiller is on great form as Joan Webster, nailing the character in the very first scene and displaying the same formidable femininity that would serve her well in The Elephant Man. Roger Livesey is a great match for her, combining humour, humility and a deep-seated integrity (plus he looks good in a kilt). Among the supporting cast, real-life Captain C. W. R. Wright is a well-chosen Colonel Barnstaple, and Valentine Dyall turns up in a rare non-villainous performance as Mr. Robinson. I Know Where I'm Going! is a top-notch romantic drama which is understated but ambitious and whose ideas remain fresh and engaging even after 65 years. The performances are charming and convincing, and really bring Pressburger's myth-injected script to life. It isn't quite the masterpiece that Martin Scorsese had claimed it to be, since its quirkier sections are occasionally overbearing (tea with the Robinsons, for example). But it marks a definite improvement on A Canterbury Tale and the start of the prime years of Powell and Pressburger's careers.
    Daniel M Super Reviewer

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