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Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Classic Film Review: I Know Where I'm Going! (1945)

Perhaps the most irritating thing about this film is the flippant title! I Know Where I'm Going! tells the story of a middle-class woman travelling to a remote Scottish island to marry a rich man. The title hinges on the fact that she has, amazingly, always known where she was going and the film sets out to change her perceptions of her future, however much she fights the change. I think the title obscures a good film, betraying too little of the story.

Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller) travels to Scotland during wartime by various different means but finds herself stranded just out of reach of her island destination. Alongside her is Torquil MacNeil (Roger Livesey), a Navy man who also happens to own the property her future husband is renting. As the days go by, she realises that her plan for life may be falling apart as she develops feelings for the Scot and she'll stop at nothing to get to the island she's to be married on.

There are numerous wonderful things about this film. The Scottish scenery, for starters, is beautifully shot and adds atmosphere to every scene. First the fog and then the wind put paid to Joan's hopes of getting across to the island, making the mountainous terrain as much of a character as Joan herself. Equally, the supporting characters each have their own little role to play, however small that may seem. One of my favourites was a young Petula Clark, who beguiled me the few minutes she was on the screen. Hiller portrayed Joan's various difficulties very neatly and the whirlpool scenes towards the end of the film were remarkable for 1945. The use of a curse to frame parts of the story was perhaps a little contrived but everything - including an eagle named after Torquil - played its part in the film. Most events felt completely incidental, perfect for a film about things not working out as expected.

My one bugbear about the film was, I'm sorry to say, the leading man. Livesey, although he portrayed the Scot well enough, didn't exude the kind of presence necessary for the role. Joan's struggles about where her life was going would've been more poignant with a different co-star, I feel. In his interactions with other characters, the character of Torquil worked very well but I just didn't buy his affection for Joan.

That said, this is an excellent film for other reasons. The plot is one thing but the life it depicts is quite another. Worth a watch, if only for the special effects.


Anonymous said...

I definitely don't agree with your comment about leading man, Roger Livesey. :) His character is what started me to become obsessed with this movie.

CharmedLassie said...

Each to their own and all that! Probably me projecting my own likes onto the film again, but everybody does that to an extent.