Film / Local Hero
Film poster depicting Mac, left, and Happer, right.

A rather charming film directed by Bill Forsyth and starring Peter Riegert, Denis Lawson, Peter Capaldi and Burt Lancaster. This thoughtful comedy follows an American oil company executive, "Mac" MacIntyre (Riegert), who is sent to negotiate with the local inhabitants of the Scottish town of Ferness because their home lies on prime coastline for new petroleum and chemical processing facilities.

This film provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: At the Céilidh Danny is pursued - rather aggressively - by a female punk. He finds her abhorrent mainly because she's not Marina.
  • Airplane Arms: Danny at one point, combined with a truly Girly Run.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Danny is constantly thinking about sex. Either for himself, or wondering about the sex lives of other characters.
    Danny: What are you thinking about?
    Mac: Girls. Naked girls. In fish tanks.note 
    Danny: Me too.
  • And Starring: "And Burt Lancaster." In spite of the poster's picture, he's not the main character, but he is the biggest name.
  • Awesome Music: In-universe example: everyone is excited to listen to Victor sing "Lonesome Cowboy".
  • Bilingual Bonus: Russian speakers will chuckle at Victor and his lady's argument, culminating in Gordon dismissing her by saying in English, "Silly bitch."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Everyone got what they wanted, except Mac, who deeply regrets having to leave the idyllic town of Ferness. The film ends with him calling the town, so maybe he at least gets to maintain a friendly correspondence with the folks who live there.
  • Captain Obvious: "You speak languages?"
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: The trenchcoat itself, coupled with the fact that Danny has been sent to discreetly meet Mac at the airport and has the sign for Knox Industries half-hidden in the coat. He tries to unobtrusively shove the sign into everyone's faces as they disembark from the plane. He comes off looking like a really conspicuous, inept spy... or a flasher.
  • Cool Car: Mac carries a picture of his Porsche 930.
  • Covers Always Lie: The poster text is wrong. In the end, everyone wins. The only one who doesn't get what he wants, McIntyre, isn't mentioned on the poster. Also, Burt Lancaster has only a small, supporting role, whereas he is featured most prominently in the poster.
  • Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: The odd subplot and interplay between Happer and his psychologist Moritz, who veers into Stalker with a Crush territory.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: A rare male example in Danny, though he's not so much clumsy as awkward to the point of cuteness.
  • Deconstruction: Of the typical "big business vs. small town" plot. The townspeople are quite happy to accept Knox Industries' offer to buy them off so they can build a refinery on the site of the village.
  • Eccentric Millionaire: Felix Happer again, CEO of Knox Industries.
  • Faux Reigner:
    • Mac, unintentionally. He gets the assigment because the management think he's Scottish. Actually, his parents were Hungarian immigrants who took the name MacIntyre because they thought it sounded more American.
    • The Reverend Murdo McPherson turns out to be an African who "came here as a student and never got away."
  • Foreign Queasine: It's an utterly usual dish, but not from Mac's perspective. "You don't eat things with names!"
  • Funny Background Event: The entire population of the town sneak out of the church behind Mac and Danny. Danny notices and does some hilarious double takes.
  • Gainax Ending: Marina may be a mermaid, Ben may be descended from the original owners of the oil company that wants to build over his beach, and the last shots of the film are a transition from the busy energy of Houston to a shot of the phone in the small town's only phone booth ringing forlornly.
  • Genre-Busting: It successfully keeps oscillating between comedy and drama... and then there's Marina's webbed toes.
  • Get Out: Happer to Moritz. Constantly.
  • Girly Run: Danny. The scene where he and Mac skip stones on the beach reveals that he's just generally a complete spaz.
  • A God Am I: Norman and his rambling about "unfreezing the Arctic Circle" and diverting the Gulf Stream. Not taken too seriously.
  • Hidden Depths: Everyone in town, even the most seemingly one-dimensional. The punk girl, for instance, admits she's chasing Danny even though he's obviously not right for her because he's someone different from the boys in Ferness. One of the townspeople begins to sob that despite being on the verge of being filthy rich, it hasn't made him feel any different.
  • Hot Scientist: Marina, and while Mac only Male Gazes her once, Danny becomes enamored with her, at one point kissing her {webbed} feet.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Mac and Danny are dismayed to learn they're currently eating the rabbit they'd hoped to nurse back to health.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Deconstruction. Mac is constantly isolated in the beginning of the film - for example, he communicates with his coworker at the office over the phone, despite being in the same floor divided by a glass pane. However, Mac doesn't see anything wrong with his life - he prefers Telex to face-to-face interaction - but after spending time in Ferness, he realizes his life is quite empty and starved. Unfortunately for him, he returns to that lonely life, with only photos and sea shells left from his trip. He even calls the town after he returns home. Whether he'll at least strive to get more out of life is anyone's guess.
  • Look Both Ways: Every time he leaves a building, Mac is almost run down by a guy on a dirt bike. Keep in mind the town has maybe two streets. Mac becomes aware of this and at one point holds Danny back a few seconds before the dirt bike rides past. According to this documentary, it was not only a Running Gag, but also basically Truth in Television.
  • Meaningful Name: Marina and Stella. Marina is obvious (the sea), but since Danny suggests to Happer a "Sea and Sky Institute", Stella (star) is more meaningful.
  • Not So Different:
    • Mac, a high-flying oil executive from Houston, and Gordon, a mayor/hotelier/cab driver from Ferness, Scotland. They're both businessmen and at the core want the same thing out of life, the main difference between the two being that Gordon has actually achieved it.
      Mac: I'd make a terrific Gordon, Gordon.
    • Happer, multibillionaire Texas oil company owner and Ben Knox, beachcomber - they become best friends.
  • Omniglot: Danny, who professes a "facility with languages" and provides Mac with a long list, though Gàidhlig isn't one of them. Mac thinks they're all gratuitous and cuts him short at one point when Danny starts to say "no" in every one that comes to mind.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: It's hinted that Marina is actually a mermaid. She has webbed toes on land and she reveals she swims from Wales to Scotland on a regular basis. When she swims, her legs look like a fish's tail. In the end, Danny chases her into the water with good news, an allusion to mermaids luring men into the sea.
  • Overt Operative: Danny wears a Conspicuous Trenchcoat at the airport, making his intentions obvious.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Mark Knopfler is the composer.
  • Real Estate Scam: Knox Industries and their plan to buy out the town. Subverted in that both Knox and the townspeople are more than happy to do the deal. As Victor states, "You can't eat scenery." Most of the movie is Gordon and Mac haggling over just how much the townspeople are to be paid.
  • Scenery Porn: Ferness is green. As Happer says, "I could grow to love this place."
  • Society Marches On: Americans in Ronald Reagan's America were probably shocked and amused at Soviet citizen Victor's capitalistic views ("I'm a cash man, Gordon..."). From a modern perspective, we now know Soviet citizens were constantly looking for the extra buck.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Mac obviously feels out of place when he returns to his modern, Houston apartment.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Mac shares a chocolate bar with Danny when they're stranded in their car overnight.
  • Troll: Ben Knox, may be one, judging by the head game he plays with Mac, offering to sell the beach for 1 US dollar for every grain of sand he can hold in his hand. When Mac starts offering buckets of sand, he recinds his one-time offer.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Mac adopts a rabbit after Danny hits it with a car. He keeps it in his hotel room until the manager finds it and makes it into a delicious supper, leaving Mac aghast, in an in-universe invocation of this trope.
    • The Ferness locals are astonished Mac only has one job.