Dedicated to the work of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger and all the other people, both actors and technicians who helped them make those wonderful films.
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[Any comments are by me (Steve Crook) and other members of the email list]
Intelligent Female Nonsense
I was contacted by a nice lady by the name of Katrina Malone who had some questions and comments about IKWIG. We got to discussing it and thinking about what might have happened to some of the characters before and after the period covered by the film. Here are some of our thoughts:
Hi, I really enjoyed looking at your Powell & Pressburger site, having fallen in love with 'I Know Where I'm Going' (such a good life motto!) several years ago.
I think the film casts a spell over the viewer (or me at least) to such an extent that even the fact the hero has a name like 'Torquil' doesn't seem silly. And it really does stir the imagination to know what happened next...e.g. how will a city girl like Joan really adapt to life on Kiloran? Catriona surely has strong feelings for Torquil and on the face of it they have much more in common than he and Joan do. What happens when the unromantic sounding Mr Potts comes home from the Middle East? Col. Barnstaple is surely not all he claims to be (his accent just isn't quite right for a colonel somehow)? Torquil's own past in the Navy...The possibilities for a follow up are endless but thankfully have been resisted as it would be difficult to follow such a little gem.
You're not alone in falling in love with it Katrina, many have even made the trip to Mull to visit the places where it was filmed. The story of Nancy Franklin (Editor on the New Yorker magazine) and her trips there is on the Criterion DVD and there are a few others on the PaPAS web site.
But is it really a good life motto? :) Joan thought she was sure she knew where she was going and look at what happened to her!
There's a documentary about Powell & Pressburger I've got where Martin Scorsese (an admirer of their films) was asked how he would do a remake of IKWIG. He mentioned a few things but then said he couldn't see why anyone would really want to, it's just about perfect as it is.
But a "What happened next?" could be interesting. And maybe some more background stories of the characters.
It has been suggested that Catriona & Torquil were more than just childhood friends. But are Catriona & Mr Potts still married? I can't imagine her with anyone so staid. But there are the children to think of (at boarding school).
I think Joan would manage OK. She'd have her love to keep her warm. I've known a few "city girls" who have made the transition to living in the countryside very effectively. And they didn't have a hero such as Torquil who had risked his life to save theirs.
Torquil's own past in the Navy shouldn't cause any problems. He was in the RNVR (Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve) so was signed up for "hostilities only" and as soon as he gets a few days leave he heads back to (or towards) Kiloran.
Col. Barnstaple is a little odd isn't he (who isn't?)?. In the film he's meant to have a background in the Indian Army (hence the curried rabbit).
What about Kenny & Bridie as well. Did they marry?
Was the comedy overdone?
Ruairidh Mor & his hat nearly blowing off?
Col. Barnstaple at the phone box and when he's on the cliff, swinging his lure so that it gets tangled in the bush (something no real falconer would do - nor would they try to fly a falcon in that wind).
Catriona and Mr Potts: yes I do think they are still married, isn't it mentioned somewhere he's in the Middle East, or have I got that wrong? And we don't know he's 'staid', or anything about him, really. I think the producers used a humdrum English name to indirectly suggest this perhaps, and tease the viewer's imagination with wondering how the wild and wonderful Catriona ended up with a man called Potts. It's a real contrast...fiery Celtic woman and down to earth Anglo-Saxon. Maybe the same could be said for Romantic Celtic Torquil and Determined & Down To Earth Saxon Joan (with a good dose of romance in her too of course). And maybe it suggests combining the two to find the right balance.
Col. Barnstaple: thanks for the interesting information on his real life background. I was not criticising him as a character or anything like that, just noticed his accent which (to my ears anyway) veers from landed gentry regimental to Home Counties shopkeeper, at a time in the military when you needed the correct upper class background to become a colonel (and possibly still do). I thought that if one were speculating on writing a sequel there is a ready-made hint there to weave a story around his past. (Was he actually a cook in the Indian Army, and on retirement, played up his past a bit to get respect from the locals?)
Joan the city girl on Kiloran: yes, her love for Torquil and the landscape would keep her warm, but I still think there would be adaptation required on her part, and in the marriage on both sides - two such strong characters might need to learn the gracious art of giving and receiving from each other.
Torquil's Navy background: in this unwritten sequel I thought how this could provide material, perhaps for some life-changing experiences of war, or undisclosed heroism which helped make him the man he is, and which Joan gradually learns of during their marriage.
Comedy aspect: no I loved it actually. Eg 'There ought to be a law against trees!'...'Yes, yes, 'tis a fine day,' [as he puts his head out of the door and nearly gets blown off his feet in a Force 10 gale]...the spaniels having virtual heart failure at the bridge-playing Englishwoman's supersonic shriek.
And finally...yes, I do realise none of these characters exists. It is just a testament to what a good film it is that the characters take on a life of their own, and appear to have past histories and future possibilities, when in actual fact they just existed on celluloid for the period of filming - but that's the boring way of looking at things (maybe a bit 'Potts'?)!!
Catriona and Mr Potts: You're not wrong, Mr Potts is serving in the Middle East. I just assumed he's staid, especially compared to Catriona. Remember when she's talking about the concrete foundation that the RAF "boys" left behind and she has to decide whether to take the money or get them to put it back to how it was? That's summed up as "Maclaine versus Potts" and she decides "Up the Maclaine's".
And of course that tells us that her maiden name was Maclaine so she was Catriona Maclaine - which is the name of the woman who laid the curse on Castle Moy!
Col. Barnstaple: Well he was only a Captain in real life, maybe he wasn't posh enough to be made a Colonel.
There's a thought though, shades of David Niven's major in Separate Tables? Claiming a rank he had no real right to.
Torquil's Navy background: Oh I like the idea of undisclosed heroism. Yes, he'd be too modest to mention it. Joan would probably hear about it from someone else. How the Laird had to meet the King to get his medal.
Comedy aspect: And the brilliant put-down by the young Petula Clark when she's asking Joan about Sir Robert:Cheril: He's very rich isn't he?
Joan: Well... I haven't counted his money.
Cheril: Are you rich?
The look from Cheril that says "OK, I've got your number"
'Maclaine versus Potts' - Actually I hadn't interpreted it to mean she favoured doing up her ancestral house again versus her husband's desire to take the money instead. I had sort of thought Maclaine versus Potts was two sides of herself: as a proud Maclaine she'd want her house restored to its former glory, as sensible but poverty stricken Mrs Potts, who is reduced to going rabbit hunting for food, she would prefer cash. So I thought the 'Maclaine versus Potts' bit was a sort of internal wrangling.
But your explanation makes much more sense. I can just imagine the furious telegrams flying between her and the Middle East: 'Take the money stop.' 'No stop. House needs it more stop.' 'Stop being so silly stop. House would be OK if you only kept all the Irish wolfhounds off the settee & Col. Barnstaple's eagle out of the drawing room. And stop bringing in dead rabbits. Stop' etc. etc.
The redoubtable Cheril. Yes, clearly a child with an early talent for put downs. And I also loved the sidelong glance the manservant dishing out breakfast gives Joan at this point, as if to say, 'This is the sort of lip we have to put up with all the time, you know.'
'Maclaine versus Potts': Oh I love it! And don't forget the other dietary supplement "the odd hiker or two"
The redoubtable Cheril: Mind you, with parents like that, "Oh, Cheril knows everything of course", it's no wonder she's a bit of a brat.
What does Sir Robert do when he realises he's been dumped? Did Joan tell him before she went back to Torquil? She was always one for doing the proper thing.
When they go to the Western Isles Hotel and she asks to sit at separate tables (before the film of the same name which she was in), Torquil says she's the most proper young lady he's ever met. She says she'll take that as a compliment, which is good as I'm sure it's meant as one.
And how did she ever get engaged to Sir Robert in the first place? She was working at CCI as an analytical chemist. Was it just chemistry between them? :)
Kenny & Bridie were obviously made for each other so would get married and live happily ever after.
What about the "English Family Robinson"? How long would they remain marooned in the Western Isles. They don't fit in with anyone there.
Rebecca Crozier & the old postmistress are the types that go on forever. Or would Rebecca try to tame Col. Barnstaple? :)
A thought about Cheril: when we see her are we in fact seeing what Joan was like as a child? They both appear to know where they are going and weren't afraid to express it in their behaviour.
Is Cheril really a 'brat'? She just seems really precocious to me, and like a lot of kids says things that adults are thinking but not saying (eg 'Are you rich?') But a bit wearing to have about of course! And having a cheeky ten year old around for a few hours makes you think there might be something to be said for corporal punishment after all.
Her parents, 'English Family Robinson': in the way they are presented is there just a hint of inter-war snobbery coming into play? Eg are they seen as nouveau riche upstarts in comparison with Torquil's aristocratic poverty and the other characters who are presented as down to earth sons & daughters of the soil?
But they could be new blood in the area if they stay and could have the same sort of function as Linda and Robert Snell in The Archers!
[This is a reference to characters in the long running BBC Radio 4 series "The Archers", not the film-makers of the same name]
I can see Cheril growing up into quite a fascinating young lady; perhaps she might develop a crush on older man Kenny who is of course happily married to Bridie by now. Or a crush on even older man Torquil! Plenty of room for drama/comedy if that happened. (Was there some story about Petula Clark being desperate to go to the loo throughout this scene? Great acting!)
I think with Kenny and Bridie and family, the possibilities I can see for follow up would be in connection with Rory (not sure how to spell his name the proper Gaelic way). As he gets older he will have to start to relinquish control over the boat business to make way for Kenny to have his turn and this wouldn't come easily to him. And Bridie would experience a real conflict of loyalties if this were the case.
Rebecca Crozier and the postmistress and Col. Barnstaple: I don't think it's necessary to have everyone paired off in a film (or in real life) - I like to think of them cutting their own individual swathe through life.
And about Sir Robert: I agree Joan would want to do the decent thing and tell him her decision, but is there a long enough time gap for her to get to Kiloran, break the news to Sir Robert, and get back to Moy Castle? I thought not, that she'd had second thoughts in the boat and turned back. Or (terrible thought!) did she do the deed via the radio link with the postmistress et al standing by: 'Hello Kiloran. Hello Kiloran. Wedding's off. Over to you.' 'Splutter!!! splutter!!***!!'
No I'm sure she wouldn't.
Is it the postmistress who does the voice over at the end relating the legend of Moy Castle? And why does Torquil finally break the taboo and go into the castle at the end when his forefathers never did?
I wonder what Joan's father is going to make of the whole set up when he comes to meet his prospective son in law? Another ulcer on top of all the others Joan and his job as bank manager have given him over the years?
Cheril: Now there's a thought. And Joan as a schoolgirl demanding silk stockings would probably fit Cheril as well.
Yes, 'brat' is probably a bit strong but certainly wearing to have around. That's why I like being an uncle - when you get fed up with them, you can give them back!
The 'English Family Robinson': Yes definitely nouveau riche upstarts. There are hints that Sir Robert made a lot of his money providing war materials while people like Torquil were away fighting. And Mr Robinson has done work for Sir Robert so is tarred with the same brush.
The Robinsons seem to treat their servants quite well but there isn't the full understanding of and knowledge about them that Torquil & Rebecca Crozier show.
I love the comparison of them with Linda and Robert Snell in The Archers! Mrs Robinson could organise the Christmas Panto every year :)
But as is always the way with small communities, they will still be regarded as "incomers" however much they do.
Cheril/Petula: Yes, that's the story, and she tells it so well. She wasn't just desperate to go, she wet her jodhpurs and had to take them off to dry before the scene where they go to see "Auntie Crozier" at Achnacroish.
As for her crushes, back to the analogy with the other Archers, is Cheril more a Lizzie Archer or a Debbie Aldridge? Both seem to like older men & get into trouble with them.
Sir Robert: Brilliant! But the post office is up at the north end of the island in Tobermory and the harbour at Carsaig is at the southern end. So Joan wouldn't have time to get there.
I thought that she knew after she kissed Torquil but didn't tell him until she had sent a message by the boat. Remember that the boat she was waiting for at the beginning was one sent from "Kiloran" by Sir Robert. She only went to Ruairidh Mor when that boat didn't come to Carsaig.
Nanny's voice at end: I'm fairly (but not 100%) sure it's not the postmistress. I was brought up on the Home Service and radio plays so I'm usually very good at identifying voices even when they try to change them.
As for why Torquil goes into the castle, surely it's because he *wants* to be chained to Joan for the rest of his life. Maybe his forefathers weren't quite so willing to get married.
Joan's father: Well he doesn't seem to understand Joan's desires and is shocked by her drinking Gin & Dubonnet (who wouldn't be?) and doesn't like being seen in public. So yes, I think he'd just stay at home and wouldn't visit them much. I don't imagine he'd do very well at a ceilidh or a ceildhe.
Is it perhaps a bit of an anomaly to say it's OK for Torquil to go off and fight in WWII but not OK for Sir Robert and his firm to provide war materials for Torquil to fight with? Or am I missing something more subtle??
Sir Robert: Making the materials was OK, but did Sir Robert make an excessive profit from them?
He did have enough money to take a lease on Kiloran at a high enough price to keep Torquil for some time. And he buys all the expensive fishing gear - but the fish do not know it.
Re Sir Robert's armaments money - yes, but Torquil didn't seem to have any qualms about taking it as rent, and as I'm sure you'll agree, Torquil can do no wrong!!!!
And that's about when we thought it might be nice to see if anyone else had any additional thoughts or suggestions. If you have, please post them to the PaPAS EMail Group or email them to Steve.