Since her childhood, Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller) knows what she wants and how to get it. At 25, she becomes engaged to Robert Bellinger, a rich, middle-aged industrialist of Consolidated Chemical Industries, who lives in the Scottish Hebrides on the island of Kiloran. Saying goodbye to her beloved father, she sets off on a long journey to the Isles, readying herself for an organized and secluded life. But something stops her plans; she's trapped on Port Erraig on the Isle of Mull—just a few miles from Kiloran— due to an impending gale. Staying at a local's house, she meets Torquil MacNeil (Roger Livesey), a navy man on 8 days leave who's waiting to go home to Kiloran.
Romantic tensions mount as they spend time together waiting out the gale, causing Joan to question her dream of marrying Bellinger and make desperate attempts to get to Kiloran—weather permitting or not.
Tropes found in this work:
- Big Fancy House: The Robinson's house: The Castle of Sorne.
- Boyish Short Hair: This reflects Joan's very determined nature and her business-like treatment of others.
- Break the Haughty: Joan thinks that everything begins and ends with money: she persuades young Kenny, who needs 20 pounds to marry his sweetheart, to boat across the perilous waters to Kiloran in an idiotic attempt to get away from Torquil. Joan puts herself in danger and Kenny and Torquil. They survive the ordeal, and make it make it back to Mull, but Joan is obviously taken down a peg for her mistake.
- Credits Gag: The credits are scattered around the scenery as the film opens with Joan in a Time Passes Montage. Bits of the credits are seen on the headboard of her crib, on her chalk slate, and on the side of the milk wagon.
- Daddy's Girl: Joan affectionately calls her father "darling".
- Dream Sequence: A surreal one while Joan is on the train to the Hebrides: we see her wedding dress swinging along in its protective plastic, and then disappearing. She's then married off by a priest to Consolidated Chemical Industries.
- Excited Show Title!: I Know Where I'm Going!
- Foreshadowing: When Torquil tells her the legend of Corryvreckan, the second biggest whirlpool in Europe. They're almost drowned by it.
- Gilligan Cut: The ship captain taking her to the Hebrides tells Joan "it's a sublime day!" This is immediately followed by a clap of thunder and rain.
- Golddigger: Although Joan is a fairly light example of one, she literally dreams of being married to Consolidated Chemical Industries.
- Hostile Weather: The gale produces strong winds and whips the sea around dangerously, making it impossible to safely sail to Kiloran.
- Hereditary Curse: It's a terrible curse for any MacNeil who crosses the threshold of Moy Castle. "This is the curse of Catriona MacLaine of Erraig: My curse on MacNeil of Kiloran and every MacNeil after him, if he shall ever cross the threshold of Moy, he'll never leave a free man. He shall be chained to a woman to the end of his days and shall die in his chains." Cue to a running Joan to meet Torquil. Not quite so terrible after all.
- Ice Queen: Joan is fairly cool made worse because she's out of her element.
- Land Poor: Torquil MacNeil: specifically, Land Rich, Cash Poor, since he is the laird of Kiloran, but has no money and needs to rent it out to Bellinger, Joan's husband-to-be.
- Last Kiss: Torquil and Joan's when she's getting ready to leave for Kiloran. But that's not really the last kiss. A Big Damn Kiss, at that.
- Make a Wish: Tourquil tells Joan an interesting way to make a wish:Torquil: Got any beams in your room?
Joan: Yes. Why?
Torquil: Count them before you go to sleep, your wish will come true. [ ] I warn you it doesn't work if you don't believe in it.
- Man in a Kilt: Torquil wears his often while travelling around with Joan.
- Mega Maelstrom: While on the tiny boat to Kiloran, the boat's engines get flooded. It's bad, but it becomes much, much worse when they hear the Corryvreckan whirlpool, meaning they're close to an impending disaster. Joan, Tourquil, and Kenny make it back, all exhausted.
- Match Cut: There's a match cut from a top hat to a steam train's chimney.
- Naïve Newcomer: Joan to the Scottish Hebrides, Kiloran, and Scottish traditions.
- Outdoorsy Gal: Torquil's childhood friend, Catriona, is the polar opposite of Joan as she goes hunting, throws things around, and generally loves the outdoors.
- Plucky Comic Relief: The Colonel and his hawks, and missing eagle.
- Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: Bellinger is the owner of Consolidated Chemical Industries, and Torquil MacNeil is the poor laird who has to rent his beloved Kiloran to Bellinger.
- Running Gag: Colonel Barnstaple, Torquil's friend, is a falconer who lost an eagle he was training. Needless to say, shenanigans happen with said eagle.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Tourquil eventually enters Moy Castle, reads the curse, knows he can't avoid his fate now, and runs to meet Joan.
- Spiteful Spit: Ruairidh Mhór, man who runs the boat coming to and from Kiloran, does this after Kenny comes back from his ill-fated trip to Kiloran with Joan and Torquil, since Kenny recklessly did it without his permission. Poor Kenny then faints from pure exhaustion.
- Title Drop: At the end of the Train-Station Goodbye as Joan says goodbye to her father, the train taking her off to get married.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Torquil reciting a Scottish folk song:Torquil: That's a fine song: Ho ro my nut-brown maiden, Hee ree my nut-brown maiden,Ho ro ro maiden,(looks directly at Joan) You're the maid for me.