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Romance without sentimentality, and one of the world's great films. Really.

  • Feb 24, 2011
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I Know Where I’m Going is one of the great romantic movies, and like all of the Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger films, it's quirky and original. For those who might care, there probably is a spoiler or two below.
Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller) has always known where she's going. She's headstrong and determined to marry a man who is wealthy and has position. Her fiance is an industrialist (this is at the tail end of WWII), older than she, who is living on a leased island, Kiloran, off the coast of Scotland. They're to be married on the island, and Joan takes the train to a small village on the coast, where she'll go across on the ferry. Bad weather sets in and she has to wait at the home of another woman, a woman of common sense and little money, who also has staying with her an old friend and naval commander, Torquil MacNeil (Roger Livesey).
This is Joan Webster's story, her determination to get to the island, her growing unease with MacNeil because he doesn't fit into her plans, her putting at risk a young couple who are in love and, as she comes to realize, may have better values than she does. Of course, there's a legend about the lairds of Kiloran, with a curse carved into the walls of a crumbling castle. There are villagers who are unique but not condescended to. There is an atmosphere of fog and mist and sun which is beautifully photographed. There is a storm-swept boat journey into the teeth of a giant whirlpool, all the scarier because it was filmed in the days before computer effects.
Roger Livesey is excellent as MacNeil, the last of the lairds of Kiloran. He made this movie only a couple of years after he did The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp for the Archers. Here as MacNeil he finds himself attracted to this headstrong young woman, then falling in love with her.
Pamela Brown plays his friend, Catriona Potts. She was a first-rate actress plagued with bad health. As Catriona she's all common sense but with also a great deal of understanding. Brown was a wonderful looking creature.
And there's Wendy Hiller. In my view this is the best movie role she ever had. She nails the part with Joan's certitude, her unease knowing that despite her intentions her plans may be changing, her final recognition that she has been wrong about a lot of things.
At the end, MacNeil enters the ruins and breaks the curse...and we realise what the curse was really all about...then hears in the distance the pipers playing, slowly growing louder. These were the pipers hired to play at Joan's wedding and he last saw them and Joan as they prepared to sail across to the island. He looks out and sees the pipers, led by Joan, marching along the road toward him. And then, without strings or lush orchestrations, the old Scottish folk song kicks in, sung simply...
I know where I'm going,
I know who's going with me,
The Lord knows who I love,
But the de'il knows who I'll marry.
I'll have stockings of silk,
Shoes of fine green leather,
Combs to buckle my hair
And a ring for every finger.
Feather beds are soft,
Painted rooms are bonny;
But I'd leave them all
To go with my love Johnny.
Some say he's dark,
I say he's bonny,
He's the flower of them all
My handsome, coaxing Johnny.
Well, if you don't get choked up, all you have beating in your chest is a hunk of muscle. 
Romance without sentimentality, and one of the world's great films. Really. Romance without sentimentality, and one of the world's great films. Really.

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February 24, 2011
I have never heard of this film before but, it sounds like a great romantic treat! Thanks for sharing :)
More I Know Where I'm Going! reviews
review by . June 14, 2012
A radiant, romantic delight from Powell/Pressburger: I Know Where I'm Going!
         I Know Where I'm Going! (1945) pulses with life.      The close-knit community it features is rich with tradition and the magnificent landscapes are steeped in legend. The people who live in the remote areas of northern Scotland in which most of the delightful movie takes place are not wealthy but their lives are so full that they mean it when they say money isn't everything.      Joan, Wendy Hiller's …
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C. O. DeRiemer ()
Ranked #32
Since I retired in 1995 I have tried to hone skills in muttering to myself, writing and napping. At 75, I live in one of those places where one moves from independent living to hospice. I expect to begin … more
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[from IMDB.com]
Joan Webster is an ambitious and stubborn middle-class English woman determined to move forward since her childhood. She meets her father in a fancy restaurant to tell him that she will marry the wealthy middle-aged industrial Robert Bellinger in Kiloran island, in Hebricles, Scotland.

She travels from Manchester to the island of Mull, where she stays trapped due to the windy weather. While in the island, she meets Torquil McNeil and along the days they fall in love for each other. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Young middle-class Englishwoman Joan Webster is determined to have the finer things in life, and to that end she plans to marry Sir Robert Bellinger, a wealthy, middle-aged industrialist whom she does not love.

En route to the Island of Killoran (mythical), where her future husband resides, Joan is stranded on the nearby island of Mull. Inclement weather keeps her grounded for a week, during which time she falls in love with young, insouciant naval officer Torquil McNeil.

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 Mull. Written by Anonymous

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