Film poster depicting Mac, left, and Happer, right.
A rather charming film directed by Bill Forsyth and starring Burt Lancaster
, Peter Riegert, Denis Lawson, and Peter Capaldi. This thoughtful comedy follows an American oil company executive, "Mac" MacIntyre (Riegert), who is sent to negotiate with the local inhabitants of the Scotland
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.
- A God Am I: Norman and his rambling about "unfreezing the Arctic Circle" and diverting the Gulf Stream. Not taken too seriously.
- 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.
- Bittersweet Ending: Everyone got what they wanted, except Mac, who deeply regrets having to leave the idyllic town of Ferness.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Felix Happer.
- 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.
- Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: The odd subplot and interplay between Happer and his psychologist Moritz, who veers into Stalker with a Crush territory.
- Crowning Music of Awesome: Given that the (more well known) soundtrack was composed by Mark Knopfler, it should seem natural. Especially the hauntingly ambient parts of the soundtrack.
- In-universe example: everyone is excited to listen to Victor sing "Lonesome Cowboy".
- Cute Clumsy Girl: A rare male example in Danny.
- Deconstruction: Of the typical "big business vs. small town" plot.
- 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.
- Meanwhile, the Reverend Murdo Mc Pherson 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.
- 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.
- Hey, It's That Guy:
- 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 than 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
- 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.
- Look Both Ways: A Running Gag. 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.
- Meaningful Name: Marina and Stella.
- 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: Well, maybe.
- Overt Operative: Danny and his Conspicuous Trenchcoat at the airport.
- Pop-Star Composer: Mark Knopfler
- 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.
- 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.
- Shout-Out: Gets lots of them on MST3K, due to being one of Kevin Murphy's favorite films.
- Dr Forrester once offered its viewing over the crap movie of the week as a reward if Joel and the Bots would win the invention exchange contest, using TV's Frank as an "impartial" judge. Naturally, the contest was rigged, and the SOL crew were forced to watch the truly abysmal (even by the show's standards) Monster A-Go Go.
- Tastes Like Friendship: Mac shares a chocolate bar with Danny when they're stranded in their car overnight.
- Technology Marches On: Some of the fancy aspects of Happer's office almost reach Zeerust proportions. Then there's Mac's beeper and his insistence that he is "more of a Telex man".
- 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.
- Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: Gordon Urquhart serves Mac and Danny breakfast as their innkeeper, then a bit later they head across the street and find that Gordon is also the mayor. He's also a lawyer and handles much of the negotiations on the town's behalf.
- Being a small, isolated town, all of the people at Ferness have multiple jobs. In fact, one of them is incredulous that Mac only has one job.