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Local Hero
Local Hero
Actors: Burt Lancaster, Peter Riegert, Fulton Mackay, Denis Lawson, Norman Chancer
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
PG     1999     1hr 51min

AN AMERICAN OIL COMPANY SENDS A MAN TO SCOTLAND TO BUY UP AN ENTIRE VILLAGE WHERE THEY WANT TO BUILD A REFINERY. BUT THINGS DON'T GO AS EXPECTED.

     

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Movie Details

Actors: Burt Lancaster, Peter Riegert, Fulton Mackay, Denis Lawson, Norman Chancer
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Drama
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 09/21/1999
Original Release Date: 02/17/1983
Theatrical Release Date: 02/17/1983
Release Year: 1999
Run Time: 1hr 51min
Screens: Color,Full Screen,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 23
MPAA Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French

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Movie Reviews

One of my all-time favorites!
skunktrain | So. California, USA | 12/28/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I am dating myself woefully, but I remember seeing this film when it came out in theatres. I trekked some distance (via bus) down to some theatre in Hollywood (I'm from another part of L.A.) because it wasn't showing anywhere nearby. I wanted to see it *that* bad. And I certainly wasn't disappointed.When I finally got a DVD player, one of the first DVDs I got was "Local Hero". It's definitely on my "must-have" list.The story is simple -- materialistic Peter Reigert is sent to a small Scottish village to try to negotiate a land deal for his rich, eccentric boss (Burt Lancaster, who is outstanding). He arrives in Scotland as a guy who is only obsessed with business deals, his car, and his posessions back in Texas, but soon he learns there are more important things in life. The townsfolk are absolutely wonderful, all in their own unique, eclectic way. Denis Lawson particularly shines as "jack of all trades" who holds several positions in the community, including innkeeper.The oddness and beauty of this film takes time to unfold, and it is best just to sit back and watch it happen. Everyone seems to have a story, everyone is eccentric in some way. I especially loved Burt Lancaster and his interaction with his "therapist", who takes the job *far* too seriously. Lancaster plays one of the most likeable and unique characters onscreen. Reigert too, is endearing. He so wants to be "normal" that he can't even admit that he might use a shampoo for dry or greasy hair. "Normal. EXTRA normal.", he says, when asked what kind of shampoo he needs. What an uptight guy he seems at first, but he soon mends his ways.The score by Mark Knopfler is among one of my favorites too. I can play it and it brings back the whole atmosphere and mood of this film. The musical piece played at the end of the movie is heart-wrenching and brings back the sweetness of the end of this fine movie every time I hear it. Director Bill Forsythe created an absolute gem in this movie. A must-have in *every* film collection. Absolutely first-rate."
Two local heroes' tender declaration of love to Scotland.
Themis-Athena | from somewhere between California and Germany | 07/07/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Knox Oil rules Houston. The Knox headquarters tower over the Houston skyline, and KNOX radio brings Houston its weather and traffic report. Knox Oil is owned by Felix Happer (Burt Lancaster), whose father bought the company from its Scottish-born founder; but unfortunately neglected to change the name to "Happer Oil." Now Knox Oil needs to obtain a location for a refinery in Scotland, and the most appropriate place happens to be a village called Furness, far up on the Northern Scottish coast. And the Knox people don't take no prisoners - they decide to simply go ahead and buy the whole village. The man they're sending to Scotland to negotiate is Mac MacIntyre (Peter Riegert), whose presumably Scottish roots are going to make it easy for him to bond with the locals and close the deal (actually, his family is from Hungary and changed their names to MacIntyre because "they thought that's America").

Reluctantly Mac takes off (he would much have preferred to handle the matter over the wires), bringing an electrically locked briefcase, a watch beeping a signal for "conference time in Houston," pictures of his Porsche 930 ("I got migraine headaches when I was still driving a Chevy") and the tough-nosed, textbook negotiating skills of a Texas oil man. He is not very impressed with the backwater ways of Furness at first - although he does instantly observe that there's "a lotta landscape here." But slowly and inexorably, his attitude changes. Walking along the beach, his steps grow longer and slower, more contemplative. He starts to collect shells. His business suit makes way for a woolen sweater. And his treasured watch dies a slow death as it tries to signal "conference time in Houston" one last time from its underwater grave. Instead of quickly closing the deal and leaving again, Mac has let the place get to him. And he is beginning to regret what this deal is going to mean for this place - nothing other than its total destruction. It will take a surprise visit from Felix Happer himself, prompted not by Mac's reports on the progress of the deal but rather, by his descriptions of the wonders of the Scottish nighttime sky, to bring about a decisive turn of events. For Happer's true love is not the oil business but astronomy; and before Mac left, Happer has charged him with the search for a comet because "the constellation of Virgo is very prominent in the sky right now in Scotland," wherefore Mac needs to "keep an eye on Virgo," to help Happer realize his lifelong dream, the discovery of "Happer's Comet." ("You do know what a comet is?" the tycoon asks, just to make sure. "I feel sure I'd know one if I saw one," a slightly flabbergasted Mac replies.)

"Local Hero" is one of those movies that capture you not because of the intricacies of their plot lines - the story moves along at a languid pace, almost tricking you into believing that there is no plot to speak of at all - nor does it require its participants to display acting skills, Hollywood style. It does, however, require them to be human; no silver screen champions but everyday heroes: "local" heroes, that is; the guys next door, ordinary people. There is, for example, Gordon Urquhart (Denis Lawson), the village's innkeeper, accountant and general spokesperson who, while negotiating a tough deal on behalf of the village population, also hosts Mac and, by introducing him to the "local ways," inevitably has a big hand in changing Mac's attitude. There is Danny Oldsen (Peter Capaldi), Mac's Knox Oil companion from Aberdeen, who falls in love with a local marine biologist (Jenny Seagrove) with her own designs for Furness Bay, which have nothing to do with a refinery and everything with the bay's preservation. There is Viktor (Christopher Rozycki), a fisherman from Murmansk who has discovered capitalism on the remote Scottish North Sea shores and routinely stops by to visit his friends there and check in on the investments Gordon Urquhart has made for him. There is Reverend Macpherson (Gyearbuor Asante), who despite his last name is about as Scottish as the Lone Star in the Texas flag, but whose erstwhile presumably African accent, after years of living in Furness, has nevertheless taken an unmistakably Scottish tinge. And there is the local villagefolk; wily, earthbound, unpretentious and hard working, nevertheless almost over-eager to cash in; and far from stubbornly clinging to their roots, soon finding themselves discussing the relative merits of a Rolls Royce and a Maserrati (measured by the cars' respective utility in transporting sheep) and musing that "it ain't easy being rich." Except, that is, for Ben Knox (!) (Fulton Mackay), who owns an essential piece of the beach and who will not give up the land given to an ancestor of his by the king himself for "turning a thing for him" (killing the king's brother) centuries ago; not even for the promise of a couple of miles of pristine beach in Hawaii.

The movie's dialogue is as unpretentious and understated as it is witty - Glasgow-born director Bill Forsyth was responsible for the script, too, and it shows. But the film's single most outstanding feature is nature itself; the rugged cliffs, endless and ever-changing skies, windswept, forlorn beaches and stormy sea of Scotland's northern coast. And the brooding, melancholy mood of those beaches, cliffs, misty glens and mountains is perfectly captured by the music composed by another son of Scotland, Mark Knopfler (like Forsyth born in Glasgow), whose very first film score remains one of his most poignant and best-known to date - there probably isn't a Knopfler fan out there who doesn't instantly recognize the movie's theme song "Going Home," even if he has never seen the movie itself. "Local Hero" is Forsyth's and Knopfler's declaration of love to their native land; a humble, evocative appeal for its preservation which merits every bit of attention it has (belatedly) received.

Also recommended:
Local Hero (1983 Film)"
An ode to authenticity
Robert Berkman | 01/04/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Local Hero is appealing on many levels. There is, of course, the wondeful quirky story and characters, the music, the off-kilter British humor, and the magnificent scenery. But I think that the reason I love this movie, and to me the real beauty of the film is watching what happens to Riegert. His Macintyre, a young, efficient corporate executive, is a man fully immersed in his time, his place, and his role. The time is the 1980s-the greed decade, some have billed it. The place is Knox Oil, Houston. His role at the firm and in his life is that of a hard boiled deal maker. And at the end of the day, he returns home to his luxury high rise, where he lives alone with his answering machine. Macintyre lives a life that's less than genuine, and on the deepest level, he knows it.But in Furness, we can see Macintyre's hard shell crack -- the result of his spending time in this authentic place-the power of Furness' pounding surf almost literally wears away his layers. When his walls are broken what's revealed for all of us to see, then, is nothing less than his true self. We can see it, for instance, in Macintyre's eyes as he laughs with Gordon, the Inn's proprietare over a drink during the high-stepping Scottish dance, and we can even see it in his hands when he empties his pockets of the sandy shells he's collected.I think that like Mac, most of us have forgotten or buried some part of our authentic selves, and that part of us quietly lays dormant. It might be buried from trying to mold ourselves to fit into some stultifying corporation, as with Macintyre. Or it could be from trying to live some other kind of unsatisfying life that's not in synch with who we really are. So, I think we can all hope that something like what happens to Mac will happen to us, or--be grateful that it already has. Mac's journey evokes T.S. Elliot's words: "We shall not cease from exploration. And at the end of all of our exploring, will be to arrive where we started. And know the place for the first time.""
I don't know what movie David Chute saw . . .
Critic-at-Arms | Salt Lake City, UT | 12/31/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

". . .so let's review "Local Hero," the 1983 sleeper that became a hit on HBO, and recently on DVD.On the surface, it seems to be your typical "country hicks save the day" movie. It even starts with Texas oil executive "Mac" MacIntyre's daily Porsche-commute. Mac works in the land division of Knox Industries, whose board of directors have a plan to "acquire Scotland -- that is, part of Scotland," as the site for a refinery and shipping terminal for North Sea oil (having already obtained drilling rights and begun work on pipelines to the planned facility). Mac (Peter Riegert), a self-professed "Telex man," who works from his desk rather than in the field, is sent to buy the land they need. So far, so good . . .or, so we think.Mac leads a lonely life -- he can't even get a date for his last night in the US -- and the highlight of his day is to be called to the office of Knox' top man, billionaire Felix Happer (Burt Lancaster). Happer, unimpressed with wealth and position, gives Mac a brief lesson in astronomy and a strange order -- to watch the clear rural skies during his trip. Happer fell in love with the skies during his days in the oil fields, decades before, and has focussed on discovering a comet as a legacy, in place of the family he never had. As Mac will be 6 hours ahead of Texas time, he will have the chance to report "anything out of the ordinary" on Happer's private line, giving the tycoon a chance to look for his comet.Far from scheming, Mac's job is one of simple negotiation, offer and counteroffer, but he finds the Scottish town to be a completely different environment than those he's used to. Helped along by Mark ("Dire Straits") Knopfler's intriguing score and the beauty of the Scottish location, the audience follows him through the stages of discovery that there is another way of life which might be better than his own.The cast includes the beautiful Marina (Jenny Seagrove), a marine biologist first introduced in the controlled environment of a Knox research tank (one can see why Mac later admits thinking of women in a fishtank!). She is then seen again in the waters of Furness Bay, where we find that she, too, is a bit unusual.In fact, everyone is a bit unusual, including the village residents (one man condemns the Maserati for not having room to carry lobster traps) and Happer's executive secretary, who chats on the phone with an unnamed prime minister about rasberries and toast.Eventually, we have to conclude that the only "normal" person in the whole film is Mac -- or is he? Is the life he knows REALLY based on sanity . . ? If we can relate only to Mac, what does that say about ourselves?This PG-rated film is the visual version of "Easy Listening." There is no stress, no foul language, no nudity, no drama (yet no open comedy), no hate, no preaching, no anything-else to get in the way of the enigma upon enigma presented by writer/director Bill Forsyth.If you are the type who needs every loose end tied off, this isn't your film -- in fact, we never even find out who the "Local Hero" really is, but are left with half a dozen different strong possibilties! However, if you are willing to just ride along, this charming film offers the sheer joy of absurdity without pretense. It also offers fuel for long, lazy discussions with someone you enjoy being near, on points not discovered until the third viewing. Or the thirty-third . . .and counting . . ."