Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tonight's Movie: I Know Where I'm Going! (1945)

One of the marvelous things about classic movies is that no matter how many hundreds of films one has seen, there are always more just waiting to be discovered. And there's a particular thrill that comes with viewing a wonderful movie for the very first time.

I had such an experience tonight watching the 1945 British film I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING!, written and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.

The movie stars Wendy Hiller as Joan Webster, a determined young lady who is headed for her wedding to a wealthy man she doesn't love. However, Joan has to get there first, and "there" is a remote Scottish island. Bad weather strands Joan in a village for several days, where she gradually falls under the spell of the people in general and a poor but dashing Naval officer, Torquil MacNeil (Roger Livesey), in particular.

I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING! combines equal parts comedy and drama. The film's beginning is enchanting, as we follow Joan growing to adulthood over the opening credits. Joan is stubborn -- and mercenary -- yet she also has a certain charm; she's a fully rounded, human character. Small moments linger in the mind, such as Joan hanging up her wedding dress in her train compartment, gazing at it with satisfaction.

Livesey has quiet confidence as Torquil, and Joan and the audience simultaneously get to know him and come to see his worth. The romance between Joan and Torquil is depicted with great subtlety -- blink and you will miss key moments -- but it builds to a wonderful, heartwarming conclusion. The film's 91 minutes fly past quickly.

The black and white photography and the Scottish locations are stunning. You may want to watch this one wrapped in a warm blanket, as the viewer can't help feeling cooooold watching the wind and rainswept scenes. (I also felt a bit seasick during the last third of the movie...) The weather and stark locale combine with Gaelic, ancient castles and legends, music, animals, and village celebrations to give the film a certain otherworldly, mystic quality.

Pamela Brown is particularly striking as Catriona, a free-spirited woman who takes weary traveler Joan into her dog-filled, cobwebby home. Petula Clark was about 12 when she played a young girl Joan meets during her stay. Finlay Currie is also in the large cast.

I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING! is available on DVD as part of the Criterion Collection; like most Criterion DVD's, it's packed with extras, including a commentary track.

The movie is also available on VHS and can be seen on cable on TCM.

I'm looking forward to watching the commentary track soon, as it will give me the chance to absorb more of the film. It's a relatively simple story, but told with so many rich details and nuances that it's impossible to take it all in in one sitting.

Watch and enjoy!

Update: Here's some good trivia...Margot Fitzsimons, who plays young Bridie, is the sister of Maureen O'Hara.

8 Comments:

Blogger Jacqueline T Lynch said...

This is a great movie, where the setting does so much to carry the story, adding to its fable-like quality. Wendy Hiller was intriguing, and showed such depth in her performances. I will always think of her as Eliza Doolittle.

5:59 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I've seen relatively few British films, Jacqueline -- I'll have to make it a point to see her in that role.

Glad to know you liked this movie too!

Best wishes,
Laura

11:58 AM  
Blogger Irene said...

I'm so hoping the library has either the DVD or VHS version but their server does not appear to be working at this time. From your description it sounds like my kind of movie.

I did get and watched yesterday While The City Sleeps and I agree that the story line of the people vying for the job was much more interesting and I loved Ida Lupino. Great stars in that movie. Black Swan is now ready for me to pick up tomorrow :)

12:21 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's so neat you've watched WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS and will be seeing THE BLACK SWAN, Irene. :) It always gives me such pleasure to know others are enjoying the same movies.

If you will be checking out the DVD version of BLACK SWAN, I really enjoyed the commentary with Rudy Behlmer and Maureen O'Hara. She has a phenomenal memory for events of 60-70 years ago and told some fun stories.

Hope you can watch I KNOW WHERE I'M GOING! too. The unique setting alone makes it worth watching, just for the visuals -- and there is much more than that to enjoy. :)

Best wishes,
Laura

12:53 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

Yea. The library site is working and they do have the DVD version of this movie. It is currently checked out but I'm on hold for it :)

The library did not have The Black Swan in a DVD version so it will be VHS. It's too bad because I enjoyed Maureen O'Hara's commentary on The Quiet Man.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's great news, Irene. :)

One of the fun stories O'Hara told was that after spending a morning shooting on location in Griffith Park they were supposed to head back to the studio to continue filming, but she and Tyrone Power played hooky and detoured to their favorite ice cream place on the way back to the studio, much to the consternation of the production staff, who worried about their AWOL stars.

Best wishes,
Laura

7:01 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

I watched this today and loved it. I have Scottish blood in me from my Dad's side and always appreciate a man in a kilt :) and the bagpipes. I especially liked the sequence where they are at the 60th anniversery party. I also watched the other features on the film which I found fascinating and am now part way through the commentary. With three movies to watch this week and a short amount of time to do it in, I have to cram it altogether. I also enjoyed seeing Petulia Clark as a young girl. In some shots she reminded me of Natalie Wood in Miracle on 34th Street.

8:15 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed it as much as I did, Irene! There is so much to get out of the movie and the extras and commentary made it even more interesting.

My husband is Scottish-Canadian on his father's side of the family. :)

Best wishes,
Laura

8:42 PM  

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