The Legend of Whisky Galore
famous tale of how a group of Scottish islanders raided
a shipwreck for its consignment of 24,000 cases of whisky
has grown into a legend.
the wreck of the ship that became the inspiration for one
of Britain's best-loved films was carrying something far
files released recently by the Public Records Office show
that it was not just spirits that disappeared - but a substantial
sum of hard cash.
SS Politician sank off the Scottish Island of Eriskay in
1941 and eight years later the film Whisky Galore recounted
the story of how the locals raced to retrive the ship's
liquid cargo, hiding the bottles before the excise men could
as well as whisky, the Politician was carrying eight cases
of currency to the West Indies and the United States.
all, there were nearly 290,000 ten-shilling notes, which
would be worth the equivalent of several million pounds
at today's prices.
the Crown Agents, who were supplying the notes to the colonial
administration in Jamaica, were confident they would not
get into circulation, for years they kept turning up at
banks around the world.
April 1941 Captain E. Lauriston, who was in charge of the
salvage operation noted that there were reports of banknotes
from the wreck turning up on Benbecula.
Crown Agents were not concerned, noting in a memorandum
: "the local police service is in no doubt on a very,
very small scale but the nature of the place and its surroundings
should tend to reduce the chances of serious loss through
the notes being presented and paid."
following month, however, an empty cash case was found abandoned
in the hold of the ship. By June of that year the notes,
were turning up in bank branches as far away as Liverpool.
By mid July, 168 had been tendered in Jamacia and 141 in
1958, the Crown Agents reported that 211,267 notes had been
recovered by the salvage company or Scottish police and
had been destroyed.
A further 2,329 had been presented in banks in England,
Scotland, Ireland, Switzerland, Malta, Canada, the United
States and Jamacia, of which only 1,509 were thought to
have been presented in good faith. But that still left 76,404
notes which were never accounted for and whose fate remains
2003 - FRENCH BID TO REMAKE WHISKY GALORE FILM
The current trend for remakes of classic films is set to
continue with plans for a new version of arguably Scotland's
finest film, Whisky Galore! The remake of the classic Ealing
comedy set in the Western Isles is the brainchild of French-based
media giant Canal Plus.
The original, shot on location on Barra in 1948, tells the
story of a ship that runs aground off the fictitious island
of Todday and the wily islanders' attempts to outwit Customs
officers and salvage thousands of cases of whisky.
The film was based on a novel by Compton Mackenzie, which
was inspired by the wreck of the SS Politician off Eriskay
It is understood "advance discussions" are under
way between representatives of Canal Plus and a British
production company to remake the film, but no stars have
been chosen yet.
Donald Manford, Western Isles councillor for Barra, welcomed
He said: "It would be absolutely wonderful to shoot
the film on Barra again, both for the economy directly and
the impact the movie would have on tourism by advertising
the beauty of the island.
"A remake is certainly something I would strongly encourage
and we would help the film's makers in any way we can."
Mr Manford, whose grandfather was involved in the real-life
drama on Eriskay more than 60 years ago, added: "People
around here joke that the only politician that brought us
any good is lying at the bottom of the sea. Maybe she will
bring us luck again."
The original film had a large cast including the leading
Scottish actors of the day such as Gordon Jackson, Duncan
Macrae and James Robertson Justice.
Scottish first-time director Sandy Mackendrick and an 80-strong
cast and crew sailed for Barra from Oban, and had to contend
with the worst summer for 80 years.
The film went over budget and over schedule and was considered
a disaster when studio boss Michael Balcon first saw it.
He wanted to cut it down and release it as a supporting
film. It was re-edited, but the film still performed poorly
on its original release. A sequel, called Rockets Galore!,
was also shot on Barra.
Calan Plus inherited the rights to the Ealing comedies and
other British films through a series of takeovers, and is
keen to exploit remake rights.
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal 07.07.03
2004 - Team signs up for Whisky Galore remake
Plans for a remake of the classic film Whisky Galore have
taken a step forward, with a British production team signing
up to the project.
Whisky Galore Film Ltd, comprising the people behind films
such as the Madness of King George and Confessions of a
Dangerous Mind, could be making the Outer Hebridean island
of Eriskay famous again as the backdrop of the now-legendary
Compton MacKenzie tale.
It was revealed last year that French film company Canal
Plus, which now owns all the Ealing Comedy rights, was planning
to remake the 1949 classic. It is understood the remake
is to be shot in Scotland.
A statement from the production company read: "Whisky
Galore Film Ltd can confirm they have optioned from Studio
Canal the remake rights of Sir Compton MacKenzie's book
Whisky Galore. We are in the early stages of development,
but will hopefully soon be in a position to formally release
full details on the project."
Articles Courtesy of The Press and Journal 19.01.04
2004 - UPDATE AS WHISKY GALORE IS RENEWED
A New version of one of Scotland's finest films, Whisky
Galore, is to be shot in the Western Isles, it has been
confirmed, and the producer will be a Lewis man.
Leading French film company Canal Plus has signed a deal
with the British production team Whisky Galore Film Ltd,
which was set up last year by Iain Maclean and Ed Crozier
for the purpose of remaking the movie.
Lewis man Mr Maclean, from Leurbost in Lochs, said yesterday:
"We have every intention of shooting the new Whisky
Galore in the Western Isles, and everything is going well."
He said that, unlike the original, they did not intend to
shoot the entire film on Barra, but were keen to use various
locations throughout the Western Isles.
"We would film from Barra up to the west coast of Lewis.
This would mean that the whole of the Western Isles would
benefit as it would be a massive boost to the islands in
terms of tourism."
The idea to remake Whisky Galore came from Iain himself
and he approached a friend working in London's west end
Respected UK film producer Stephen Evans became involved.
He has been responsible for 13 films which have received
11 Academy Award nominations, including two Oscars.
His hits include The Madness of King George, Wings of the
Dove and The Luzhin Defence.
Most recently, he was executive producer of Confessions
of a Dangerous Mind, directed by George Clooney.
The original Whisky Galore movie made in 1949, is based
on the true story of the sinking of the SS Politician off
the Outer Hebrides in 1941, while she was destined for the
United States with 50,000 cases of Scotch whisky on board.
Islanders made sure that the cargo did not go to waste -
and there are still bottles of the famous whisky around.
Compton Mackenzie subsequently wrote the novel Whisky Galore,
and eight years later an adaptation of the book was made
into a movie.
The new Whisky Galore will, like the original, be set during
the war years.
But Mr Maclean said: "We intend starting it off in
the present day although mostly it will be set in the same
time period as the original. We hope to start filming within
the next year."
Articles Courtesy of The Press & Journal