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A radiant, romantic delight from Powell/Pressburger: I Know Where I'm Going!

  • Jun 14, 2012
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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 driven lead character, doesn't understand that attitude, at least not at first. She is a young woman set to marry a wealthy man who is old enough to be her father. We learn this when her father says so, with a conspicuously arched eyebrow.

Joan is in London and her betrothed is in distant Scotland, where he is waiting out World War II in relative safety. Her complicated journey to meet him has her going by car, train and boat. It all goes smoothly until blinding fog and then battering winds prevent her from travelling the last little bit to the island on which her wedding is to take place.

We hear Joan's fiancee when they speak by radio, but we never see him. I Know Where I'm Going! (the emphasis of that exclamation point is important) does show us a dashing naval officer. He wants to reach the island so he can enjoy his leave there. He is played by Roger Livesey with confidence and exuberance so infectious that it quickly becomes clear that Joan's wedding to the unseen tycoon might not happen after all.

The ending might be predictable but it is stirring as well. An ancient curse that grew out of horrible events comes true in a way that is heartwarming.

Before it gets there, I Know Where I'm Going! takes it characters and us on walks through the beguiling Scottish countryside, to a boisterous 60th wedding anniversary celebration and to a dinner party that is dull until a woman has us spellbound with her evocative descriptions of the glories of life in the place she loves. Viewers are treated to a dream sequence in which some of images could have sprung from the imagination of Salvador Dali. We are thrilled as a trio risks everything in swirling seas.

The movie is as polished and magical as one would expect from a work written, produced and directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, the celebrated creators of such masterworks as The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus and One of Our Aircraft is Missing. They've invested in I Know Where I'm Going!vision, skill and style.

Two years before I Know Where I'm Going!, Livesey gave a tour-de-force performance in Powell and Pressburger's exceptional The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp. That movie is in dazzling Technicolor.

I Know Where I'm Going! is in beautiful black & white. Erwin Hillier's rich cinematography makes the terrain of Scotland radiant. Everything glows when the weather is good and is shaded in exquisite darks when the weather is not.

Powell and Pressburger had a clear vision of their destination when they made I Know Where I'm Going!. Viewers are lucky we can come along.
A radiant, romantic delight from Powell/Pressburger: I Know Where I'm Going! A radiant, romantic delight from Powell/Pressburger: I Know Where I'm Going! A radiant, romantic delight from Powell/Pressburger: I Know Where I'm Going! A radiant, romantic delight from Powell/Pressburger: I Know Where I'm Going!

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More I Know Where I'm Going! reviews
review by . February 24, 2011
Romance without sentimentality, and one of the world's great films. Really.
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 …
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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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