I have loved the Ealing Studios comedies for years. They have been clever and charming without exception until I saw "The Maggie"--and, oddly, I felt amazingly indifferent about this film. While well acted and occasionally interesting, it sure felt like one of their lesser films.
The Maggie is a tiny old boat that is nearly ready for the scrap heap. Yet, inexplicably, the owner and his crew are amazingly attached to this craft and are scrambling to find a way to keep their failing business afloat (as well as the boat). In a last-ditch effort to come up with funds, they agree to transport some items for an American industrialist (Paul Douglas)--even though they are woefully equipped to do this. The boat is too small, too slow and 100% wrong for the job. Once Douglas realizes he's been had, the Maggie's crew absconds with his cargo--making the run anyway. Douglas is infuriated and spends much of the film looking for these men to get his goods back and send the items on a REAL ship. When he does find the Maggie, it's too late to arrange for another ship, so he joins the crew--all the while mad that he's stuck on a slug-like craft that has long outlasted her usefulness.
While this plot is reasonably diverting, what happens towards the end of the film makes zero sense--NONE whatsoever. In fact, it comes so far out of left field that it made me mad about seeing the film. The end, simply put, was overly sentimental and formulaic--something I never expected from Ealing. This 'happily ever after' ending is something more like you might find in Hollywood--but even then, the ending seemed very, very strained.
I see a lot of people reviewing the film liked it. I assume they could accept the way this film ended...I just know I couldn't.
Reviewed by rmax3048237 / 10
Gentle and amusing Ealing comedy.
Paul Douglas came as rather a surprise in this film. First of all, he's as alien among these Gaelic Islanders as Raymond Burr was among the Japanese of "Godzilla." Second of all, after a series of contretemps he must change into a woolly pullover and, although he has the face of a pudgy man, we see that he's not overweight, only a little bulky and lacking in neck. Douglas is Mr. Marshall, the owner of some expensive cargo that has been accidentally shipped to an island via the old and delapidated Scottish puffer called the Maggie.
The captain and crew of the Maggie need desperately to get the cargo to its destination so they can collect the payment they need to get the broken-down boat into a shape good enough for it to pass inspection and be relicensed. (Which it is not now.) Essentially the story is a battle of wits between Douglas and the crew of the Maggie. Douglas is a very wealthy American businessman, but not the blustering brutish junkman he was on Broadway in "Born Yesterday." Instead he's a polite, efficient materialist, keenly clever. More clever than the Maggie's crew, or so he thinks.
Douglas has a heck of a time tracking down the boat once it sails out of Glasgow with its cargo. He hires an airplane to find it and finally intercepts it at one of the many small fishing villages at which it stops for fuel or other reasons, such as the 100th birthday party of an old man who speaks only Gaelic.
Boy, does this ring bells. All peasants on the screen must be a little whimsical and fun loving, when they're not casually getting the job done. It doesn't matter whether they're Greek ("Zorba") or Irish ("The Luck of the Irish") or Okinawan ("The Teahouse of the August Moon"). And the earnest, uptight American or English businessman must learn from them that the law must be interpreted leniently and life is nothing to get particularly upset about.
The direction, by Alexander MacKendrick, is functional and the editing just about flawless. The acting is at a professional level. There are no major misjudgments on display. But it's not a zany laff riot either. The pace is generally slow, the slapstick sparse, and the humor is not mean spirited. Oh, the Maggie's crew may be on the right philosophical track okay, but Douglas isn't exactly a heavy. He's not so much angry as frustrated at losing every contest. And at the end, when he decides to jettison his precious cargo, it must come finally as a big relief to him. I'll bet his systolic blood pressure dropped thirty points.
There are certainly funnier Ealing comedies: "The Man in the White Suit," "The Ladykillers." But this quiet little film really shouldn't be missed, especially if you're concerned about ulcers or blood pressure.
Reviewed by edwagreen2 / 10
Perhaps, one grade level above awful is this 1954 film where Paul Douglas is fooled when he ships cargo on an old freight with quite a motley crew on board.
First problem is that it was practically impossible to understand those Scottish brogues. The men spoke as if they had hot potatoes in their mouths. Ditto for the young lad whose Scottish accent was made even worse by his being rather nasal.
Douglas was not allowed in this part to show how irate he could usually become in motion pictures. We never get the opportunity to see his wife as we only see him on the telephone with her. Evidently, theirs is a troubled marriage, just like the entire film.
Douglas shows some compassion by film's end by the actions he takes to save this broken down ship.