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An Overlooked Big Screen 'Hero'
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An Overlooked Big Screen 'Hero'

Arts & Life


It's time to take your insulin. We're heading into the season of syrupy sweet family movies. There's "Fred Claus," or the new live action "Chipmunks" flick. But if you're not in such a sugary mood, our cultural concierge, Jesse Kornbluth is here with a recommendation for a forgotten feel-good movie. He promises this one will actually leave you feeling good. He says the soundtrack's pretty good, too.

JESSE KORNBLUTH: It's called "Local Hero." It was made in 1983 by a Scottish director, Bill Forsyth. It stars Burt Lancaster and Peter Riegert, the (unintelligible).

SEABROOK: I haven't seen this. I have to say, I'm not even sure I've heard of this movie.

KORNBLUTH: I think it's fair to say when you define cult, the first definition is "Local Hero."

SEABROOK: Hmm. So what's the movie about, Jesse?

KORNBLUTH: Well, if I told you about it, you say, but oh no, this is just a horrible "Erin Brockovich" precursor, and here's the start of the plot.


KORNBLUTH: A rich oil man in Houston decides that he must have more oil. And the place to get is on the North Sea coast of Scotland. And so he sends Peter Riegert to go and buy the entire town.

Now, from here you'll say, oh right, you know, outrage.

SEABROOK: Villagers…

KORNBLUTH: It has people rise up.


KORNBLUTH: You know, the dirty tricks. Not at all. The town's people are dying to sell the town to the Houston oil man. It's just that the movie stops cold at the point of their wanting to do it because, the thing is, they are Scottish. They are people and their foresight is extremely interested in the eccentric things that happened between those people. And so what we're looking at is suddenly a town in dissection and people we are falling in love with, with every sentence and this little touches like there's a woman who's a mermaid. He doesn't make anything of it.

SEABROOK: Jesse, tell me more about the soundtrack.

KORNBLUTH: Well, you know, it's a great irony because probably a great many people have heard the soundtrack than have ever seen the movie. And that's because this was the first by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits which was, at that time, the biggest band in the world. The thing that's so extraordinary about this is how subtle it is. It's none of the big Dire Straits arena band sound. It's genuine Scottish music. It's very folkie and then only at the end does it really just rock.

(Soundbite of song "Going Home")

SEABROOK: Funny you should mention this, sort of, plot line of the oil man who wants to buy up a town in Scotland because that's actually happening right now with Donald Trump. Okay, not an oil man, but he wants to build this big golf Disney World sort of place for golfers in Scotland and he is running up against a Scottish fisherman, a salmon fisherman who is refusing to sell his chunk of beach.

KORNBLUTH: And you know, that's exactly what happens here. There is one person who doesn't want to sell. He's an old codger and he lives on the beach and he says very simply if he sells, who's going to look after the beach? That's not, you know, what we're used to. We're used to - when people oppose you, it's usually because of the dollars. Here, it's not that at all. Here, it's because these people are eccentric.

So, in short, very funny comedy. Fabulous Mark Knopfler music. Great performances, and the beautiful, beautiful coast of Scotland. I really can't find anything wrong with this movie.

SEABROOK: Jesse Kornbluth, thanks so much for joining us.

KORNBLUTH: A pleasure as always.

SEABROOK: And let's tell our listeners that you can find more of Jesse's picks for music, movies and books at his Web site,

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