70 Years of Whisky Galore!

On this day: 70 years of Whisky Galore the Ealing comedy

Happy Birthday to “Whisky Galore!” which turns 70 today!


Today marks a very special celebration for fans of classic films as it’s 70 years to the day since the second of the classic 1949 Ealing Comedies was released in cinemas.
On the 16th of June in 1949, “Whisky Galore!” opened at both the Gaumont and Pavilion cinemas in London and proved to be a box office success, at home & internationally.
Whisky Galore group of stylish pop art prints by Art & Hue
The studios had released comedies previously, such as “Hue & Cry” in 1947, but Ealing’s prolific output in 1949 was a boom period for the studios, with critical and commercial success.

Produced under the stewardship of Michael Balcon at Ealing Studios, “Whisky Galore!” was one of the most popular films of 1949 and, along with “Passport to Pimlico” and “Kind Hearts & Coronets”, all released in the same year within the space of two months, firmly established the Ealing Comedies.

The post-war films tapped into the public mood, presenting tales of the small underdog battling a larger enemy, generally state bureaucracy or established institutions, and whilst the morals of the time couldn’t allow crime or rebellion to go rewarded, for a brief moment, audiences could will on the unlikely heroes.

Following on from “Passport to Pimlico”, “Whisky Galore!” continued the pattern of employing a regular cast, similar to repertory theatre, with actors & actresses being used across several films. The film starred Gordon Jackson, Joan Greenwood, John Gregson, & Basil Radford, who all went on to appear in another Ealing comedy film. The film also featured Jean Cadell & Duncan Macrae who went on to appear in the follow-up “Rockets Galore!” with Ronnie Corbett & John Laurie.

Nominated for a BAFTA, along with the Ealing Comedies “Passport to Pimlico” and “Kind Hearts & Coronets”, it missed out to Carol Reed’s film noir “The Third Man“, which is also celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2019.

A classic comedy, very much rooted in its Scottish location but appealing to cinemagoers worldwide, “Whisky Galore!” tells the story, apparently based on true events, of a fictional Scottish island in the Outer Hebrides that has run dry of whisky but whose inhabitants are gifted a shipwreck carrying 50,000 cases of the spirit.

With opposition from the local law enforcers, the islanders plot to salvage and hide the drink. Like other Ealing comedies, “Whisky Galore!” presents the tale of the small underdog battling a larger enemy, in this case the state bureaucracy of the Home Guard & customs officials.

International cinemagoers were captivated by the whisky-dependent islanders in “Whisky Galore!” – the film was renamed “Tight Little Island” for American audiences and the French title inspired the name of the world’s first ever discotheque, Whisky à Gogo in Paris.

70 years of Whisky Galore! the classic Ealing Comedy
The film opened in two London cinemas on June 16th 1949, the Haymarket Gaumont & the Marble Arch Pavilion.

Art & Hue had the pleasure to delve into the archives of the Ealing Comedies to create a new collection of stylish pop art prints related to the films, all available in three sizes and many colour options.

Discover the full Ealing Comedies collection here and, should you be in the mood to re-watch the film, or discover it afresh, you can order the film on DVD or Bluray via Amazon here, or watch it on iTunes now.

So charge your glasses with a single malt and raise a toast to “Whisky Galore!” and the 70th anniversary!

Happy 70th to “Whisky Galore!” & the Ealing Comedies!


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