Mactaggart Leaves American High and Dry
5 years after giving us "Whisky Galore!" Ealing Studios and director Alexander Mackendrick gave us another slice of Scottish humour with "The Maggie" a movie which Mackendrick also wrote. And the easiest way to describe "The Maggie" is to say that is a good companion piece to "Whisky Galore!" because again we have a tale focussing on a small group of crafty Scots out smarting the authorities and this time their boss. But the outsmarting isn't to do with whisky but a Captain of an old puffer who leads the American who has unwittingly hired him to ship cargo on a merry dance. It's a fun movie, maybe not as much fun as "Whisky Galore!" but still a worth while watch.
Having decided to surprise his wife by buying a home on a Scottish island, American businessman Calvin B. Marshall (Paul Douglas) is in need of a boat to take his £4,000 worth of cargo to his new home. In a moment of confusion Marshall's right hand man Mr. Pusey (Hubert Gregg) hires Captain Mactaggart (Alex Mackenzie) to ship the cargo for him thinking that he is a skipper of a big boat instead of a beaten up old puffer called "The Maggie". When it becomes clear to Marshall that he has been conned he does what ever he can to get his cargo off of The Maggie but is constantly out witted by Mactaggart and his crew who are in need of money to repair their decrepit old boat.
The actual storyline to "The Maggie" is a simple one and in a way it is all about the battle between different life styles as in the laid back ways of Mactaggart, the skipper of The Maggie annoying American businessman Calvin B. Marshall. As such whilst we get a bit of history, from learning that The Maggie is deemed no longer sea worthy by the authorities through to Mactaggart having actually been born on the boat everything does revolve around the journey. And on that journey we watch as Mr. Marshall becomes more and more exasperated by Mactaggart's laid back ways, his refusal to rush to do the job he is paid for and his constant willingness to stop of at one harbour pub after another.
As such not only do we get many amusing scenes as Mactaggart and his crew out wit Marshall and his right hand man Mr. Pusey but also moments of slapstick such as Mr. Pusey being arrested when he is mistaken for a poacher. It is all simple stuff, much of which is obvious but it does make you smile especially when this is basically a tale of the little man getting one over on the big man. But at the same time it also brings a smidgen of depth to the proceedings as along the way Marshall slowly begins to appreciate life in a different way, forced to submit to doing things Mactaggart's way, including going to a party at one of the ports they stop in.
Now whilst Paul Douglas is probably the best known name in "The Maggie" and he does a fine job of playing American businessman Mr. Marshall he is outshone by the likes of Alex Mackenzie who plays Mactaggart. Mackenzie doesn't real do anything special other than playing your stereotypical crafty Scotsman but it such a fun character as is the rest of his small crew. But it is young Tommy Kearins in his one and only movie who really steals the show because as Dougie, the wee boy he is not only mischievous but also clever and in a way provides the soul to the story as he tells Mr. Marshall how much The Maggie means to Mactaggart.
What this all boils down to is that "The Maggie" whilst not being a great Ealing Studio's movie is still a very good one and sadly is often forgotten about. It works as a good companion piece to "Whisky Galore!" with it's tale of a crafty Scottish Skipper getting one over on the American who hired him and is full of fun little scenes.