Local Hero

Today I am reposting a couple or three of the blogs I wrote way back when on MySpace, just so they might reach new readers.  The following, about the movie Local Hero, from which two songs were used in The Show (CT), with a couple of edits.  Neil is featured prominently in The Show playing the tunes Cal/Local Hero.  It was when I first learned that Neil is a really fine guitar player, and which has been instrumental (no pun intended) in getting Neil a lot more showing during CT performances.  Neil is, of course, one of Phil’s people, not on the CT contracts with PBS.  And is why, while enjoying Neil’s voice very much, I want to see him stay with the guitar on future CT shows.


Subject : Local Hero

Posted Date: : May 10, 2010 9:07 AM

Local Hero could probably be called my favourite movie.  This is not because I think it is the best movie; there are others I like equally well.  I call it my fave, though, because if I could only have one movie on a desert island, or in some other situation where I would have to choose, this is the one I would choose.

It has a number of things in it that make me say that:  actors – one of the main characters is a Scotsman named Gordon Urquhart, and he is played by Denis Lawson.  I have liked Denis Lawson since first seeing him as Wedge Antilles in the original three Star Trek movies; he played Luke’s wingman in all three, and had a major role in Return of the Jedi when he flew with Lando Calrissian into the Death Star.  He played the family patriarch in the Masterpiece Theatre version of Bleak House.

He is also uncle to Ewan McGregor.

Other stars of the movie inlcude Peter Riegert, Peter Capaldi, Fulton McKay, and Burt Lancaster.  It is a story about a smart oilman named McIntyre who is sent by his bosses at Knox Oil and Gas in Houston, TX, to buy up this seaside town named Furness in Scotland, to put in an oil refinery and pipeline.  And it is about his adventures in Scotland, where he is like a fish out of water.  It is a really funny, but sweet, film, and was produced by the same man, Bill Forsyth, who produced Chariots of Fire.

Mac is a really smart businessman, but he has no clue about life itself, and the little nuances of everyday living.  He meets a Scotsman who works for Knox, played by Capaldi called Danny Olson, and we are led to believe that Danny is a sort of bumbling laddie.  By the end of the show, we learn that Danny is by far the smarter of the two.  Peter Capaldi himself appeared in a couple of Vicar of Dibley episodes, but a few years ago, he won an Oscar for a short film he produced.

Burt Lancaster plays a man named Happer who inherited Knox Oil and Gas from his father, who bought it from the family named Knox, but did not change the name.  In the process of trying to buy this little town, the hangup turns out to be a man named Ben Knox who actually owns the beach, and the deed is in a Museum in Edinburgh.  The beach was given to the Knox family by the Lord of the Isles some 400 years before as a thank you for a very Scottish gift.

Happer is a big astronomy buff, and is looking for a comet.  He tells Mac to watch for it in the constellation Virgo, a concept totally alien to Mac.  That is okay, except when it turns out that Ben owns a large telescope, Mac tells Happer who shows up at Furness that Ben is “kind of eccentric; he watched the sky a lot”.  The irony is completely lost on Mac.  It all results in a Marine Laboratory and Astronomical Institute being planned for the area, and the oil pipeline planted way offshore, and Mac returning to Houston, with Danny staying to work with Mr. Happer.

Along the way we meet a mermaid, see the Northern Lights, see a meteor shower, meet a Russian who sings “Even The Lone Star State Gets Lonely” at a ceilidh, the ceilidh itself, where a real band called the Ace Tones plays, see a young lady with lightning strikes painted on her cheeks and a multi-coloured Mohawk sitting alongside a very old lady on a bench enjoying the same tin whistle music, the same old lady fixing her even more ancient husband’s tie for him and you just know they have been married at least 50 years, an African minister who “came when I was a lad, and just never got away” who calls himself Mordo McPherson, MIGS flying over and bombing the beach (“it’s kind of comforting; if they are bombing the beaches, they aren’t bombing anywhere else”), a group of fishermen who wheel a baby around in a carriage, and no one seems to know who it belongs to; a shopkeeper who is in love with the Russian fisherman, and several other memorable characters and scenes.

My love for Scotland caused me to look up the places the movie was made.  Furness is the little town of Pennan on the North Sea, the ceilidh took place in a little town called Banff, a real ceilidh with real people, where the director was allowed to shoot the scenes of the actors at the ceilidh (thus the real band), and the beach scenes were taken at Morar, which is on the west coast of mainland Scotland, right across the Sound of Sleat from the Isle of Skye.  You can see the Cuillin Hills in the background of the shots.  Scenes were also shot in Arisaig, which I think is what we would call a county, and that is probably where the Aberdeen scenes were shot.  Of course, the real Houston was at the beginning and the end.

Music:  Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame wrote the music for this film.  On the DVD (and I suppose CD) of CT’s The Show, it is listed as Cal/Local Hero.  The song for Local Hero, which Neil plays so well on that guitar, is titled “The Sea and the Sky and the Rocks”.  And the Cal part is a neat story.  Seems that originally the character Mac was to have been named Cal, but in order to put a little more meaning into the characters naivete about life itself, he was simply named McIntyre, and called Mac.  The name of Cal is given to a lesser character in the film, but the name stuck to the music.

I recommend the movie to anyone who hasn’t seen it.  I am certain it is probably available through Netflix for renting, or Amazon for buying.  It was made in 1983.


About carolstepp

Music is about the most important thing in my life, and I follow a large number of musicians, particularly Irish, Scots, Classical, Crossovers of any of these. I was writing a blog about Celtic Thunder regularly on MySpace, and now I have left them after a year, and will start writing my blogs here. I am 70, retired, living on Social Security, and have a lot of social network fans.
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4 Responses to Local Hero

  1. aliciaheart says:

    I only learned a few days ago that Local Hero was a movie.

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  3. Tom Noyes says:

    Local Hero is also one of our favorite movies. We bought a CD because not yet on Netflix and we need a “Local Hero” fix every couple of years. Actually went to Pennan and stayed in the hotel. It had just been taken over by new owners who were, shock of shocks, “Local Hero” fans. If they are still, there recommended if you are up that way in Scotland. Also visited the Beach which is of course on the other side of Scotland! The Bar burned down maybe 20 years ago; but the Lochs are still there, of course.

    • carolstepp says:

      Local Hero is the movie I would want if I were stranded on an island somewhere. It is far and away my favourite all-time movie. I may have to order it on DVD, but my video still works well. I have never made it to Scotland, though I almost did back in 2002 – unfortunately, a war was started and I was afraid to get on a plane. Now I am retired, but don’t have enough income to make that kind of a trip. I appreciate your letting me know you like my blog about it. It is one that gets read quite often, I am assuming usually by a small few folks who go back to it. Thank you for your comments.

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