Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. My Favorite Movie

 

Ed Driscoll, over at Instapundit, linked to an old Bleat by James Lileks. In it, he mentions putting on the soundtrack to Local Hero, which he says, “…might be the one record I cannot live without”. I have to agree with him. It is a beautiful work of early ’80s atmospheric music with Celtic seasoning, written and performed by Mark Knopfler. I bought the soundtrack before I had ever heard of the movie, because I was such a fan of Dire Straits. When the movie showed up on HBO, I was apprehensive about watching it. The music is so good in its own right, and I feared a terrible movie would ruin my listening pleasure.

I need not have worried. From the opening shot in Houston, TX to the final fade of a small Scottish fishing village at dawn, every scene in Local Hero is perfect. Written and directed by Bill Forsyth (Gregory’s Girl, Comfort and Joy, Breaking In), this is a movie that will appeal to all ages and tastes. The basic story is of a young, status-conscious oil executive, MacIntyre (Peter Riegert – Animal House), who is sent to acquire an entire Scottish village so his company can build a refinery there. Mac figures he can close the deal in a day or two, but the villagers know why he’s there, and do their best to delay him. In the meantime, he begins to fall in love with the slower-paced life and the community the people of the town enjoy. Burt Lancaster plays Knox Oil’s slightly batty CEO, Happer. He is obsessed with discovering a new comet, and continually asks Mac for updates on the night sky. There’s also a young marine biologist who might be a mermaid, a Russian sailor who is an avid capitalist, and an eccentric beach bum who isn’t quite the fool he appears to be.

This is a movie that rewards repeated viewings. It is one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen, but the humor is very understated. I’ve watched it more than a dozen times, having owned versions on VHS tape and DVD, and every time I watch it, I discover something new. For example, when I watched the new Criterion Blu-Ray edition last week, I noticed for the first time how much Mac needs a telephone to communicate with others. Even though the film is set in the pre-cell phone era, he is constantly picking up a phone to talk to someone, even if it’s someone in his office on the other side of a glass wall. 

Knopfler’s soundtrack is one of the most sensitive and evocative I’ve ever heard. It complements the movie perfectly, and it is an integral part of the viewing experience. The final swell of the Local Hero Theme never fails to give me a lump in my throat. So, if you haven’t seen Local Hero, I highly recommend it, and if you have seen it and loved it, Criterion’s new edition is well worth getting. 

Published in Entertainment
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 36 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. James Lileks Contributor

    Last year I was in a small English coastal town, and made my way to the BnB where I was staying with a small flashlight. Through the thickets, down a lane, stay to the right or you’ll end up in the horse pasture, straight on until morning, that sort of thing. I had my phone, which has all my music, and realized this was the place I’d been waiting for. Extinguished my light, looked up at the billions of lights above, laid in the grass and listened to the soundtrack. It had been a hard year, but it was going to be okay.

    • #1
    • November 26, 2019, at 1:25 PM PST
    • 18 likes
  2. Tex929rr Coolidge

    I love the ending music.

    • #2
    • November 26, 2019, at 1:35 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Wonderful movie. Have seen it several times, including on its initial release. And the soundtrack is lovely.

    • #3
    • November 26, 2019, at 1:38 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  4. Gary McVey Contributor
    Gary McVey Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    One sidelight: the producer, David Puttnam, won the Academy Award for “Chariots of Fire”. 24 hours after waving the Oscar in the air on worldwide live TV, Puttnam was standing on the set of “Local Hero”, unpretentiously freezing alongside the rest of the crew. That’s professionalism. 

    • #4
    • November 26, 2019, at 1:54 PM PST
    • 13 likes
  5. WI Con Member
    WI Con Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Tex929rr (View Comment):

    I love the ending music.

    It’s fantastic live too. Mark Knoffler is one of my favorites!

    • #5
    • November 26, 2019, at 1:58 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  6. Hoyacon Member

    Probably worth noting that Knopfler also has an album called Screenplaying that contains four of the longer tracks from Local Hero (including the theme), plus selections of his music from the films Cal, The Princess Bride, and Last Exit to Brooklyn.

    • #6
    • November 26, 2019, at 2:03 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  7. Mark Camp Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    Last year I was in a small English coastal town, and made my way to the BnB where I was staying with a small flashlight.

    Small in stature, but not underage, right?

    • #7
    • November 26, 2019, at 2:30 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  8. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce Caward Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I concur on every point. It has been my favorite since it came out. (The rest of Forsyth’s movies are all very good too, particularly Being Human with Robin Williams in one of his best performances, Breaking In with Burt Reynolds in one of his, Housekeeping with Christine Lahti, and the ones you mentioned.

    I too have seen it 15 or 20 times, and have gifted it more than any other movie (well, maybe The Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant).

    It is hard to describe how sweet and original and deeply funny this movie is. I close my eyes and see Dennis Lawson going into his excited little dance singing “we’re going to be rich, we’re going to be rich, ohh Mr. MacIntyre . . . Stella!” and I am chuckling for the night.

    And one of the best last scenes of any movie.

    My girlfriend and I decided to make a pilgrimage to the village where it was filmed, to see if it was possible to make a call from the phone booth. Well, turns out we’re not the only ones – it’s about a year wait to get a room. And the phone booth (and the beach) are not in the same town as the rest of the streets and everything. The whole phone booth story is interesting. Google it for the details, but I believe it didn’t exist, they built it for the movie scenes. Then so many people came looking for it that they had to put one in, with a plaque and everything. We’re still going.

    Plus it has The Doctor! First time I saw Peter Capaldi, so young and handsome and just plain great. Actually we should say that Doctor Who has Danny Oldsen. Wahoo!

    • #8
    • November 26, 2019, at 3:14 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  9. The Great Adventure! Inactive
    The Great Adventure! Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Will most definitely have to look that up. I still hear different selections from Man From Snowy River in my head even though it’s been 15-20 years since I last watched it. The 2 clips posted here hooked me. 

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=kYN0qYG1egs

    • #9
    • November 26, 2019, at 3:20 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  10. James Lileks Contributor

    Mark Camp (View Comment):
    Mark Camp

    James Lileks (View Comment):
    Last year I was in a small English coastal town, and made my way to the BnB where I was staying with a small flashlight.

    Small in stature, but not underage, right?

    Small in size, but punching above its weight in stature: quite a place. I go there yearly, and it’s the best part of summer. 

    • #10
    • November 26, 2019, at 4:45 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  11. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    I find this relaxes me immediately:

    • #11
    • November 26, 2019, at 4:53 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  12. LC Member
    LC Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Knopfler usually ends his concerts with Going Home. And it’s always beautiful.

    Between this soundtrack and The Princess Bride’s, Knopfler owns this niche of soundtracks.

    • #12
    • November 26, 2019, at 5:27 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  13. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thaddeus Wert:

    Mac figures he can close the deal in a day or two, but the villagers know why he’s there, and do their best to delay him.

    Just to quibble a tad, that it’s Gordon Urquhart, who represents the villagers who is delaying the transaction and there’s a reason that he’s holding it up. Today, if they remade the film, that reason would be for the environmental concerns and some not so subtle woke messaging about the impending Climate Catastrophe that will wipe out the planet…but that’s not the reason for the delay in finalizing the deal in the film.

    A gem of a film, by the way and I never grow tired of the soundtrack. My brother Don and I caught Local Hero in Palo Alto when it was first released. Bill Forsythe’s first film, Gregory’s Girl is also a wonderful coming-of-age film set in a Scottish high school. 

    What makes Local Hero so endearing for me is that the characters are so believable. The pub scenes, the guy who also wants to help Mac make his phone calls from the phone booth, and Ben, the wise hermit (and an important figure in the story) who lives in a little ramshackle hut on the beach. I’m withholding some information for those who haven’t seen the film. 

    Many decades ago, on my honeymoon, to be precise, my bride and I spent a few hours in a charming little pub in Surrey, England. There were a couple of wonderful old dogs in the pub and entire families enjoying the evening. Not the kind of crowd you would see in a bar in America. One adorable little girl, who must have been about 7 or 8 years old, found out that we were from America and asked in all seriousness, “Do you know Michael Jackson?” That line could have been taken right out of Local Hero.

    Great post. Thanks for the memories.

    • #13
    • November 26, 2019, at 6:05 PM PST
    • 8 likes
  14. Nerina Bellinger Member

    It has been years and years since I saw this movie. I checked on IMDb and you can rent it from Amazon Prime Video for $2.99. As noted above – great movie. I also really loved Gregory’s Girl.

    • #14
    • November 26, 2019, at 6:45 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  15. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Forsyth’s film after Local Hero, Comfort and Joy, a loose knit comedy about a disc jockey trying to mediate a rivalry between two ice cream vendors in Glasgow is also quite good, though Local Hero remains his masterpiece.

    • #15
    • November 26, 2019, at 6:55 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  16. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in Seattle Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Love this post because I, too, love this movie. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it and I have not tired of it. Years ago I knew a fellow who went to Scotland with a friend where they rented motorcycles then sought every village where this movie was filmed: rather enchanting!

    Whenever I hear a whiny motorbike, I think, “Careful – Ricky’s on the road tonight.”

    • #16
    • November 26, 2019, at 7:18 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  17. Brian Wyneken Member

    Oh Boy! So interesting how this movie has meant so much to the post author and the commentators. I’ve also have seen it many times – bought the LP Album, then later a cassette, then later a CD, and have purchased all versions of the video.

    Aside from the wonderful story and characters, the final scene of the phone ringing in the booth brought a lot of emotion the first time I saw the movie. Not that long before I’d had a similar experience as Mac insofar as I thought I’d finally found my “place” but was forced to leave (there was a young lady tied up in all this too). Later I came to realize that the common problem with all places was that wherever I went, there I was. Even Mac saw that he couldn’t be Mac if they had traded places and he’d stayed – “I’ll make a good Gordon, Gordon.”

    Thank you for posting this!

    • #17
    • November 26, 2019, at 8:16 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  18. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in Seattle Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    Forsyth’s film after Local Hero, Comfort and Joy, a loose knit comedy about a disc jockey trying to mediate a rivalry between two ice cream vendors in Glasgow is also quite good, though Local Hero remains his masterpiece.

    Local Hero is my favorite, followed closely by Comfort and Joy which also has a Knopfler soundtrack. I have had to convince Mr. Susan in Seattle to hang onto our one tiny television that will play VHS tapes because that’s the only format in which I have been able to find C&J.

    • #18
    • November 26, 2019, at 8:19 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  19. James Lileks Contributor

    Brian Watt (View Comment):
    Many decades ago, on my honeymoon, to be precise, my bride and I spent a few hours in a charming little pub in Surrey, England. There were a couple of wonderful old dogs in the pub and entire families enjoying the evening.

    There’s one of those in my beloved Walbers, complete with dogs. (Actually, there’s two pubs, but you choose, and leave the other one for special nights when you want a different menu.) The ales are made across the river at Southwold; can’t possibly be any fresher. Everyone knows everyone, and everything has a story. Rivalries and dark tales, ghosts, past lives, scandal. I’m sure there’s an American analogue to these places, but they’re so distinctly British it wouldn’t be the same.

    (If you’ve seen the movie “Yesterday” – the guy who is the only one who remembers the Beatles – it was shot in and around the town, with all the locals pitching in as extras.)

    • #19
    • November 26, 2019, at 8:37 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  20. Brian Wyneken Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Brian Watt (View Comment):
    Many decades ago, on my honeymoon, to be precise, my bride and I spent a few hours in a charming little pub in Surrey, England. There were a couple of wonderful old dogs in the pub and entire families enjoying the evening.

    There’s one of those in my beloved Walbers, complete with dogs. (Actually, there’s two pubs, but you choose, and leave the other one for special nights when you want a different menu.) The ales are made across the river at Southwold; can’t possibly be any fresher. Everyone knows everyone, and everything has a story. Rivalries and dark tales, ghosts, past lives, scandal. I’m sure there’s an American analogue to these places, but they’re so distinctly British it wouldn’t be the same.

    (If you’ve seen the movie “Yesterday” – the guy who is the only one who remembers the Beatles – it was shot in and around the town, with all the locals pitching in as extras.)

    Yes, the dogs, families, the mix of generations, walking to the pub, sometimes music that you could sing along with – and none of it ever seemed contrived. I cut my teeth on this 40 years ago (in south Wales) where the local ale was Felinfoel “Double Dragon.” Is there an “American analogue”? St. John’s Newfoundland is the closest I’ve seen.

    • #20
    • November 26, 2019, at 9:07 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  21. Hang On Member
    Hang On Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I had a couple of friends who lived in Applecross in Scotland one working on the North Sea rigs and one onshore in support. I visited them before Local Hero was released and the movie reminded me of that visit and the people. To get to Applecross, you had to go over a fairly high peak and went up there around midnight. It was snowing in June and the Northern Lights were dancing. The Western coast of Scotland is magical.

    • #21
    • November 27, 2019, at 12:01 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  22. Titus Techera Contributor

    @FlaggTaylor–I think you’ve found a home!

    I’m glad to see so many people love this movie. I had no idea!

    • #22
    • November 27, 2019, at 1:45 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  23. WI Con Member
    WI Con Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’m usually apprehensive about sequels but there are movies (some, OK – very few) where the characters and story are so endearing that I really want to see what happens to them.

    Local Hero is one and for those that haven’t seen Big Night, that’s another. These two Italian Brothers that immigrate to US in the 1950’s with dreams of running a successful restaurant – Stanley Tucci and Tony Soloub (?) are both terrific. I really want to see what happens to them.

    • #23
    • November 27, 2019, at 3:24 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  24. Thaddeus Wert Coolidge
    Thaddeus Wert

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):

    I too have seen it 15 or 20 times, and have gifted it more than any other movie (well, maybe The Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant).

    The Bishop’s Wife is my family’s favorite Christmas movie!

    • #24
    • November 27, 2019, at 5:38 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  25. Thaddeus Wert Coolidge
    Thaddeus Wert

    Wow. When I posted this, I had no idea it would garner such a response. It’s gratifying to know that there are so many of us who love and appreciate movies like Local Hero. It’s also good to know that there are still corners of England like @jameslileks‘ Walberswick. Gives me hope for Western civilization!

    • #25
    • November 27, 2019, at 5:54 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  26. TallCon Coolidge

    I have seen and enjoyed the film. 

    But my experience isfar more connected to, as many have noted, the album. I became aware of it because it’s the last track of Dire Straits’ live album Alchemy. (Big Dire Straits fan, here.) And then I bought the album itself. It’s been something I listen to regularly for going on 35 years.

    I remember listening to it on a Walkman in the just after dark cold of January (Phoenix levels of cold – numb fingers but no frostbite) on an out of doors job. I remember playing it on a cross country trip to a new job at sunrise in New Mexico. Absolutely perfect on both occasions.

    @jameslileks once described the beginning of the actual credits (at about 2:25 on Going Home) as (paraphrase from memory) every best day he’s ever had. Truer words never spoken.

    Knopfler-Local hero.jpg

    Finally: I’ve had the LP since 1985. (Later the CD, of course.) You know, back when you’d look at the album cover while you listened to the music. And it was only last year that I realized that the front and center individual on the cover is Peter Capaldi! The Twelfth Doctor himself! (Doctor Who.) Yep, this is the movie that has both the future Doctor and Wedge from Star Wars! A treat, to be sure!

    • #26
    • November 27, 2019, at 6:13 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  27. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    Hang On (View Comment):

    I had a couple of friends who lived in Applecross in Scotland one working on the North Sea rigs and one onshore in support. I visited them before Local Hero was released and the movie reminded me of that visit and the people. To get to Applecross, you had to go over a fairly high peak and went up there around midnight. It was snowing in June and the Northern Lights were dancing. The Western coast of Scotland is magical.

    In 1978 my then girlfriend (and now wife) camped out on the beach at Applecross. And we sure do remember the road over the mountain! It was part of a trip along the West Coast. The prior afternoon we’d seen a house on an isolated headland near the village of Gairloch. We knocked on the door and asked if we could camp in their yard which had a large field overlooking the ocean and the isle of Skye. They said sure.

    • #27
    • November 27, 2019, at 8:23 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce Caward Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thaddeus Wert (View Comment):

    Wow. When I posted this, I had no idea it would garner such a response. It’s gratifying to know that there are so many of us who love and appreciate movies like Local Hero. It’s also good to know that there are still corners of England like @jameslileks‘ Walberswick. Gives me hope for Western civilization!

    When I read the title, my daemon and I high-fived each other and winked “Local Hero! Wonder what this dude’s favorite is?” Imagine our delight when we saw that we were not alone.

    Lotsa movies out there, but few as funny, complex, and eternally rewarding through repeated viewings as this one. If there are any others that compare, I am eager to hear of them.

    • #28
    • November 27, 2019, at 4:40 PM PST
    • 1 like
  29. Bruce Caward Thatcher
    Bruce Caward Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thaddeus Wert (View Comment):

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):

    I too have seen it 15 or 20 times, and have gifted it more than any other movie (well, maybe The Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant).

    The Bishop’s Wife is my family’s favorite Christmas movie!

    This one is not as complex as Local Hero, but charming, thought-provoking, and utterly moving. I think of scenes from this movie all year long; they have informed my behavior and reaction to things in my daily walk more than I can tell you.

    The harp-playing encounter with Mrs. Hamilton such wonderful melodrama, so moving.

    And the Mitchell Boychoir’s scene remains among my favorite of any movie, and possibly my favorite Christmas song of all time.

    I post a YouTube of it here for one reason or another (any reason I can think of?) every Christmas. But this is about Local Hero. I’ll wait until you post about your favorite Christmas movie.

    • #29
    • November 27, 2019, at 4:48 PM PST
    • 1 like
  30. Thaddeus Wert Coolidge
    Thaddeus Wert

    Bruce Caward (View Comment):
    Lotsa movies out there, but few as funny, complex, and eternally rewarding through repeated viewings as this one. If there are any others that compare, I am eager to hear of them.

    Some other favorites that I’ve enjoyed multiple times:

    Palm Beach Story (Preston Sturges) – the perfect screwball comedy that never goes stale;
    After Hours (Scorsese) – this comes close to the humor of Local Hero, albeit with a much darker tone;
    My Favorite Year (Peter O’Toole) – I’ve watched this one almost as many times as Local Hero;
    Down and Out In Beverly Hills (Nick Nolte, Bette Midler, Richard Dreyfuss) – hilarious snapshot of ’80s America, with a great cameo by Little Richard.

    • #30
    • November 27, 2019, at 6:43 PM PST
    • 2 likes