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4.5 out of 5 stars
I Know Where I'm Going [DVD] [1945]
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This is one of the great romantic movies, and like all of the Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger films, it's quirky and original. Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller) has always known where she's going. She's headstrong and determined to marry a man who is wealthy and has position. Her fiance is an industrialist (this is at the tail end of WWII), older than she, who is living on a leased island off the coast of Scotland. They're to be married on the island, and Joan takes the train to a small village on the coast, where she'll go across on the ferry. Bad weather sets in and she has to wait at the home of another woman, a woman of common sense and little money, who also has staying with her an old friend and naval commander, Torquil MacNeil (Roger Livesey).

This is Joan Webster's story, her determination to get to the island, her growing unease with MacNeil because he doesn't fit into her plans, her putting at risk a young couple who are in love and, as she comes to realize, may have better values than she does. Of course, there's a legend about the lairds of Kiloran, with a curse carved into the walls of a crumbling castle. There are villagers who are unique but not condescended to. There is an atmosphere of fog and mist and sun which is beautifully photographed. There is a storm-swept boat journey into the teeth of a giant whirlpool, all the scarier because it was filmed in the days before CGO.

Roger Livesey is terrific as MacNeil, the last of the lairds of Kiloran. He made this movie only a couple of years after he did The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp for the Archers. Here he finds himself attracted to this headstrong young woman, then falling in love with her.

Pamela Brown plays his friend. She was a first-rate actress plagued with bad health. Here she's all common sense but with also a great deal of understanding. She's a wonderful looking creature.

And there's Wendy Hiller. In my view this is the best movie role she ever had. She nails the part with her certitude, her unease knowing that despite her intentions her plans may be changing, her final recognition that she has been wrong about a lot of things.

At the end, MacNeil enters the ruins and breaks the curse...and we realise what the curse was really all about...then hears in the distance the pipers playing, slowly growing louder. These were the pipers hired to play at Joan's wedding and he last saw them and Joan as they prepared to sail across to the island. He looks out and sees the pipers, led by Joan, marching along the road toward him. And then, without strings or lush orchestrations, the old Scottish folk song kicks in sung simply...

I know where I'm going,

I know who's going with me,

The Lord knows who I love,

But the de'il knows who I'll marry.

I'll have stockings of silk,

Shoes of fine green leather,

Combs to buckle my hair

And a ring for every finger.

Feather beds are soft,

Painted rooms are bonny;

But I'd leave them all

To go with my love Johnny.

Some say he's dark,

I say he's bonny,

He's the flower of them all

My handsome, coaxing Johnny.

Well, if you don't get choked up, all you have beating in your chest is a hunk of muscle.

This is one of the great Powell and Pressburger movies. It's not just romantic, but it's romantic without being sentimental. It's a great story and a great film.

If you have an all-region DVD player you should consider the Region 1 Criterion release. The Criterion DVD transfer is excellent and the extra features are extremely good.
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 2003
I agreed to watch this movie because I didn't want to disappoint someone I liked. I wasn't looking forward to it either. How more boring could you get than having to watch a black and white movie of all things made in the 1940s for goodness sake with a bunch of old actors who couldnt possibly be believable let alone romantic.
But stone the crows!!!! the moment Joan arrived on the island and I heard the Gaelic language spoken, as well as the eerie cry of the seals and the first meeting between Joan, Torquil and islanders, I started to drift into the mystical, magical mist of the island.
The movie is funny (eg shouting match between Torquil and Joan on stairs, the colonel and his 'camp' gear and obsession with eagle).
The island landscape, and scenes of the elements WoW!!! (whirlpool scenes, were awsome and gives a fantastic thrill). Its so, so romantic, and I don't just mean Joan and Torquils romance (but how cool can a guy get when he tells you, without telling you directly, that your the one for him, by making his English translation of a Gaelic song the way of getting his feelings across).You end up falling in love with the people and place.
It felt like a fairy tale, yet everyone were your every day people, trying to keep body and soul together,except the wierd, over the top colonel. Its a real down to earth place but it includes belief in 'things'dismissed by óutsiders'as superstition or simply not true. These two elements combined to create the magic for me. I didn't want the movie to end.
I aint ever going to speak ill of black and white movies and óld actors again after seeing this movie.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 17 October 2005
I love this little gem of a film. It's a romance about a spirited and somewhat annoying and stubborn young woman (Wendy Hiller), who becomes engaged to a wealthy older man, simply because it is materially advantageous for her to do so. She travels to the Western Isles of Scotland, hoping to meet up with her fiancé, but when the bad weather keeps her stranded, she encounters the local laird (played by the wonderful Roger Livesey), and her plans, as well as her feelings begin to go awry.
The story will at first, seem rather quaint and old fashioned to the modern viewer, as will the character's mannerisms and speech, but the film captures a wonderful mythic, fairytale atmosphere, which is both nostalgic and enchanting. It's also a metaphorical love story, a scathing critique of materialism, just as relevant to us today as it was back in the 1940s.
Much of the film is shot on location, using local people as extras - though, incredibly the scenes with Livesey were all done in the studio. Powell's sensitive feel for myth and landscape yields some extraordinarily haunting and beautiful scenes, and the dream sequence is ingenious and delightful - it's a technical masterpiece, admired by all the great directors of today, including Scorcese. A film that will appeal to aspiring movie-makers and those who still have romance in their souls!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 25 September 2005
I have watched this film at least 20 times over the last 20 years &I always enjoy it.It is a romantic story with a lovely ending & an excellent cast.The scenery is beautiful;the story is light,innocent & enjoyable & I would rate it as one of the best from Powell & Pressberger.If you are looking for a modern film with hidden depths then you will probably not like it but I love old films that reflect the attitudes of the time that they were made.A throughly lovely film.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This is one of the great romantic movies, and like all of the Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger films, it's quirky and original. Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller) has always known where she's going. She's headstrong and determined to marry a man who is wealthy and has position. Her fiance is an industrialist (this is at the tail end of WWII), older than she, who is living on a leased island off the coast of Scotland. They're to be married on the island, and Joan takes the train to a small village on the coast, where she'll go across on the ferry. Bad weather sets in and she has to wait at the home of another woman, a woman of common sense and little money, who also has staying with her an old friend and naval commander, Torquil MacNeil (Roger Livesey).

This is Joan Webster's story, her determination to get to the island, her growing unease with MacNeil because he doesn't fit into her plans, her putting at risk a young couple who are in love and, as she comes to realize, may have better values than she does. Of course, there's a legend about the lairds of Kiloran, with a curse carved into the walls of a crumbling castle. There are villagers who are unique but not condescended to. There is an atmosphere of fog and mist and sun which is beautifully photographed. There is a storm-swept boat journey into the teeth of a giant whirlpool, all the scarier because it was filmed in the days before CGO.

Roger Livesey is terrific as MacNeil, the last of the lairds of Kiloran. He made this movie only a couple of years after he did The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp for the Archers. Here he finds himself attracted to this headstrong young woman, then falling in love with her.

Pamela Brown plays his friend. She was a first-rate actress plagued with bad health. Here she's all common sense but with also a great deal of understanding. She's a wonderful looking creature.

And there's Wendy Hiller. In my view this is the best movie role she ever had. She nails the part with her certitude, her unease knowing that despite her intentions her plans may be changing, her final recognition that she has been wrong about a lot of things.

At the end, MacNeil enters the ruins and breaks the curse...and we realise what the curse was really all about...then hears in the distance the pipers playing, slowly growing louder. These were the pipers hired to play at Joan's wedding and he last saw them and Joan as they prepared to sail across to the island. He looks out and sees the pipers, led by Joan, marching along the road toward him. And then, without strings or lush orchestrations, the old Scottish folk song kicks in sung simply...

I know where I'm going,

I know who's going with me,

The Lord knows who I love,

But the de'il knows who I'll marry.

I'll have stockings of silk,

Shoes of fine green leather,

Combs to buckle my hair

And a ring for every finger.

Feather beds are soft,

Painted rooms are bonny;

But I'd leave them all

To go with my love Johnny.

Some say he's dark,

I say he's bonny,

He's the flower of them all

My handsome, coaxing Johnny.

Well, if you don't get choked up, all you have beating in your chest is a hunk of muscle.

This is one of the great Powell and Pressburger movies. It's not just romantic, but it's romantic without being sentimental. It's a great story and a great film.

The Criteron DVD transfer is excellent and the extra features are extremely good.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Another outstanding masterpiece from Powell & Pressburger. Just how did they do it? The short running time of 87 minutes means the film in places - such as the ends of scenes - seems rushed, but that's only because, as another reviewer has pointed out, we're used to lesser filmmakers bashing us over the head with things, where P&P just say or show them and move on.
The economy of the film is also astonishing and testament to their ability to get so much in so efficiently: breathtaking B&W photography of the Western Isles, a dozen distinctive characters, barnstorming performances (particularly from Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey, almost matching his masterful Colonel Blimp, also for P&P - why isn't he better remembered?), a prototype Perfect Storm in fifteen minutes of heartstopping whirlpool shipwreck, plus of course the central romance. And falconry!
Buy this film now, it's a complete experience in an hour and a half and doesn't even need extras to fill you up. They don't make them *quite* like this any more.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 8 December 2011
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's 1945 film I Know Where I'm Going (or IKWIG as it has become known) is an amazing film. For what is quite a contrived and sentimental story it really should not work - at least certainly not for me. But the fact is that it does.

This is partly due to the fact that, for all the cliches (and indeed very amateur looking special effects/artificial backdrops) that the film contains, messrs. Powell and Pressburger still work their magic and have created a beautifully shot and edited work. The other major factor is that the Isle of Mull (the setting of the film) happens to be my favourite place on the planet, and its breathtaking scenery and familiarity rubber stamps the film's greatness for me.

As the two central characters, Roger Livesey as Torquil MacNeil (the laird of the island of Kiloran) and Wendy Hiller as Joan Webster (who is destined to marry the rich landowner currently renting Kiloran) are both excellent. Livesey's character has to broker the initially antagonistic relationship between Joan and the locals, which has been prompted by Joan's ambition and single-mindedness. As the film progresses, however, Joan comes to respect the views and culture of the islanders, by the end exclaiming that she would 'rather swim in the sea than in a swimming pool' and 'catch salmon in the local stream than buy it from a fishmongers'.

Sterling acting support is provided by P&P regular, Pamela Brown as the wild, hare-skinning, local Catriona Potts and by Captain C.W.R Knight, who delivers a superb performance, full of bluster as Colonel Barnstaple, falconer friend of Torquil (who is currently training a golden eagle). The film features a number of superb set-piece sequences including Joan's initial journey north to the Hebrides, a ceilidh being held on Mull and the encounter with the Corryvreckan whirlpool as Joan attempts to get to Kiloran during a storm.

There are also a number of interesting facts about the making of IKWIG. Amazingly, Roger Livesey did not actually take part in any of the shooting in the Western Isles, as he was required to fulfil an acting contract in a West End play - all these sequences were performed by a body double. Neither Roger Livesey nor Wendy Hiller were P&P's first choices for their respective parts in the film. James Mason was initially earmarked for the role of Torquil, 'artistic differences' preventing this, and Deborah Kerr was lined up for the Joan Webster role, but Hollywood provided too much of a temptation for her (Incidentally this reversed the situation for the earlier P&P film The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, where Kerr eventually took the Edith Hunter role after Wendy Hiller - the initial choice - fell pregnant.)
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
"I know where I'm going,

I know who's going with me,"

A young lady (Windy Hiller) pretty much knows what she wants in life. On her way to her wedding on a remote Scottish island she is delayed long enough to experience a different way of life and a reality that she was never exposed to. Here she finds different values and the difference between real nobility and the early version of plastic money. She is overwhelmed by her new discovery and the man (Roger Livesey) who introduced her to it. Now she must desperately escape or be lost forever in this different world.

I was surprised to find that a young girl in the movie was Petula Clark.

There are advantages to having a movie with a story that is not based on a book. You can enjoy the story for what it is and not have to compare. However this may make a good play. In the Criterion extras you will find speculation on the pro's and con's of remaking the movie.

This film is impressive on its own but the Criterion treatment adds many fascinating dimensions that make you have to re-watch the film just to se the parts that you missed while paying attention though the plotline and scenery.

There is a commentary track that covers the entire film. A behind the scenes stills that even has a commentary. Home movies add to the information about the designers of the story and producers. There is a section from "The edge of the World." A great insight and a different way off looking at the story are found in "I Know Where I'm Going! Revisited" a 30 minute making of. The location photo essay allows you to see if the color is what you imagined (maybe better).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2012
The lead character in this story is a determined sensible woman who knows what she wants and goes out for it. As the beginning of the film makes clear, she's been like this since she was born. She isn't cruel, nasty or spiteful just very clear. Just as she is about to become the ultimate ambition of her aims, wouldn't it be, she finds herself in a situation she can't control and faced with the one thing to which she thought she was immune. Love comes in a most unexpected way and she is suddenly has to decide what does she really want, and will getting what she thought she wanted make up for what she now knows she would be missing.

The film is beautifully played by all but especially the two leads who move apparently effortlessly from strangers to acquaintances to something more almost without either noticing till it hits them both, separately, over the head.

The boat scenes are thrilling and the denoument played with considerable thought and subtlety.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 30 September 2005
This is one of my favourite movies and repays endless viewings. This movie is deceptively simple, but makes most romantic comedies seem mundane. A young woman gets stuck on an island in the Inner Hebrides waiting to get married and finds herself constantly in the company of a charming, easy going man.
The interaction between the 2 leads is fascinating. He is always leaning in towards her or moving close to her. She is strongly attracted, but she fights it as well. Neither Wendy Hiller or Roger Livesey are what you could consider standard romantic leads (even though they are WONDERFUL actors) which makes their growing relationship moving and amusing.
The photography is amazing, the use of landscape spectacular but that is expected from a P + P movie. Great lesser characters and unpredictable dialogue. Pressburger was a superb scriptwriter.
I just wish that both these lead actors, (esp Roger Livesey) had made more movies.
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