Laxdale Hall (1953)

LAXDALEHALL-JohnGrierson-1952Next month’s classic is a British comedy adapted from an Eric Linklater novel and filmed on location in Scotland’s beautiful Applecross Peninsula.

PLOT

A parliamentary delegation is sent to a remote community in the Highlands, where residents are refusing to pay their road tax. This may be because they have no roads. Nevertheless there are at least five car owners in the village so go figure! Needless to say, the men from the ministry meet their match because after a few days amongst them, the visitors come to appreciate the local lifestyle.

This classic set-up of a community banding together to defy interfering officialdom is very Ealing-esque but it is the characters who make this a joy to watch – such as the permanently-pessimistic undertaker who keeps expecting his father’s body to be brought from the mainland by ferry (but receives something else instead).

Then there is the smooth MP sent from London, who wants the residents of Laxdale to up sticks and move to a fine new town that will be built and goes by the name of Drumleydubs.

laxdale-hall-28296_7The locals, of course, are having none of it! Their attitude is summed up by the line from one of the local women during a downpour: a London visitor comments on the foul weather, and she replies, “I wass in London once, and they said it wass raining, but, och, you would neffer have noticed.”

In her debut film, Prunella Scales (better known later as Sybil Fawlty) plays a village schoolteacher who forms a potentially romantic relationship with a man from the Ministry played by an all but unrecognizable young Fulton Mackay (later the prison officer to Ronnie Barker’s Fletcher in Porridge). You can see them both in the picture on the right

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