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Local Hero

Burt Lancaster , Peter Riegert , Bill Forsyth    PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)   VHS Tape
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)

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When Mac MacIntyre (played with deadpan perfection by Peter Riegert) is sent by his star-gazing, slightly insane Knox Oil and Gas boss (Burt Lancaster) to Scotland's West Coast to buy the rights to a seaside town slated to be the site of an oil refinery, Mac embarks on his journey reluctantly. "Why do I have to go to all the way to Scotland?" Mac complains to a coworker. "I'm really more of a Telex man." But on the way to closing the deal, a funny thing happens: the place takes root in Mac. The town's eccentric inhabitants, eventful night sky, and stunning scenery soak into his psyche and combine to bring a very different Mac to the surface, a Mac who collects seashells, walks on the beach in his jeans instead of his suit, and throws his calendar watch, beeping "meeting time in Houston," into the sea.

Mac eventually vies to switch places with Gordon Urquhart--accountant, bartender, innkeeper, and community representative in the land deal. After an evening spent drinking 42-year-old scotch ("old enough to be out on its own," Mac chirps, and then laughs smugly at his own joke) and negotiating the real estate deal, Mac tries to negotiate a deal for himself--to trade his high-rise Houston apartment, Porsche, and oil-company job for Urquhart's less traditional, but more fulfilling, life.

The plot runs along almost as if behind the scenes, and the characters are intriguing, but the real appeal here is the incisive yet gentle humor. During a visit to a Knox Oil lab, Mac is shown into a room that contains a miniature of the town he has been sent to purchase. The head of the lab says, "Welcome to our little world," and then gives Mac the plastic replica of the town as a souvenir. "Dream large," he intones. The irony's easy to miss and is just one example of the intelligent presence--in the form of writer and director Bill Forsyth--working behind the scenes here.

Mark Knopfler's delicate, haunting soundtrack complements the sometimes melancholy, sometimes hilarious currents of Local Hero to perfection. --Stefanie Durbin

Customer Reviews

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Movie! Jan. 20 2010
This is my favorite movie because the topics hit home on many levels as someone in an industry driven by deadlines. From the main character who initially would not think twice about exploiting a community's resources for the oil industry but in the end is willing to trade all his material goods for a life of simplicity and community, to a billionaire who seems to have it all except for happiness and sanity who befriends someone who has nothing and no use for money, to the rescue of a pristine landscape for something more sustainable, and all delivered in a humorously understated way. There are some weak spots but they don't get in the way of the message. I watch it once a year and get temporarily inspired to leave it all' and then reality kicks in. Sigh.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Back to the old country eh McIntyre? Dec 4 2006
Being of Scottish descent I am a little biased toward this movie's cultural origins but if you want to see an intelligent, well acted, charming film that makes you long for a visit to 'the old country', this is it. Peter Reigert, Peter McKay and Burt Lancaster are all excellent in this film about how the residents of a small Scottish town can be influenced by greed when a big oil company sends a corporate savvy but culturally naive representative to make them an offer they can't refuse. This gem is full of charm and wit the characterize the best films of Bill Forsythe. Lancaster adds a touch of class to the proceedings in one of his last great performances as the eccentric oil man with an obsession for the night skies. Mark Knopfler's atmospheric score is a delight. If you enjoy this magical film, you may want to check out "Gregory's Girl" and "Comfort and Joy" by the same director. It's unfortunate that Bill Forsythe seemed unable to keep the momentum going in the world cinema after a promising beginning in the '80s. We need more voices in the world like him.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You can go home again. Dec 21 2003
A very charming movie that bears up well under repeated viewings. Bill Forsyth has done so many good movies over the years, but I think this remains his best. Certainly, it is the closest to home, as he beautifully plays off the American-Scotland theme and the sense of misplaced identity.
Peter Riegert is great as Mac, a representative of a large Houston oil company who has been chosen to close a deal on a harbor village in the north of Scotland, because of his presumed Scottish ancestry. Turns out Mac is of Hungarian, not Scottish descent, as his parents thought MacIntyre was an American name. Nevertheless, Mac soon finds himself adapting to the rugged North Sea coast, picking seashells from the tidal pools and adopting a rabbit his driver had inadvertantly hit on the road.
Forsyth introduces the viewer to a wonderfully eccentric cast of characters in the small village, led by the amicable Gordon Urquhart, mayor, innkeeper, accountant and jack of all trades. Mac finds himself falling in love with Gordon's wife, but the playful romance is treated more in jest than in an attempt to foil the plot. It is in a grizzled beachcomber that we find the perfect foil to the land deal, which eventually brings the head of the oil commpany, Mr. Knox (played to perfection by Burt Lancaster) to Scotland.
You will fall in love with this movie, as I did, carried along by its charm and beautifully poignant moments. Forsyth doesn't miss a beat in this playful movie.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute classic June 12 2003
This is one of those quirky films that you might finish watching, then take a few days to decide that you really liked it, then want to see it again. One of the most intelligent, feel-good, subtle movies of the 1980s, at a time when movie-makers seemed to be coming up with a lot of populist B-Grade fare that has not stood the test of time like this has.
Burt Lancaster and Peter Riegert are outstanding in the main roles - both are transformed by the events that unfold on the Scottish coast - though it is Riegert who feels it the most.
One of the best aspects of the film is the soundtrack, by Mark Knopfler (of Dire Straits fame). This is one of his best endeavours (though the soundtrack for 'Cal' comes pretty close), with wistful melodies and spectacular aural 'auras' that emulate the aurora Riegert is told to watch out for on his trip.
Do take a look - but don't decide instantly that it has too little to say if you are not captivated by the first viewing - give it another chance - it'll grow on you!
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favorites! Dec 27 2002
I am dating myself woefully, but I remember seeing this film when it came out in theatres. I trekked some distance (via bus) down to some theatre in Hollywood (I'm from another part of L.A.) because it wasn't showing anywhere nearby. I wanted to see it *that* bad. And I certainly wasn't disappointed.
When I finally got a DVD player, one of the first DVDs I got was "Local Hero". It's definitely on my "must-have" list.
The story is simple -- materialistic Peter Reigert is sent to a small Scottish village to try to negotiate a land deal for his rich, eccentric boss (Burt Lancaster, who is outstanding). He arrives in Scotland as a guy who is only obsessed with business deals, his car, and his posessions back in Texas, but soon he learns there are more important things in life. The townsfolk are absolutely wonderful, all in their own unique, eclectic way. Denis Lawson particularly shines as "jack of all trades" who holds several positions in the community, including innkeeper.
The oddness and beauty of this film takes time to unfold, and it is best just to sit back and watch it happen. Everyone seems to have a story, everyone is eccentric in some way. I especially loved Burt Lancaster and his interaction with his "therapist", who takes the job *far* too seriously. Lancaster plays one of the most likeable and unique characters onscreen. Reigert too, is endearing. He so wants to be "normal" that he can't even admit that he might use a shampoo for dry or greasy hair. "Normal. EXTRA normal.", he says, when asked what kind of shampoo he needs. What an uptight guy he seems at first, but he soon mends his ways.
The score by Mark Knopfler is among one of my favorites too.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming, quirky film set in Scotland
Local Hero is a genuine cult movie, the kind that has a small but devoted following of fans, though it's not popular among other people who don't "get it. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jon Corelis
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but hardly "Essential" - Missing a Plot
There may be the making of great movie - nice scenery, very good actors, atmospheric soundtrack, whimsy and authenticity -- but it did not come to fruition...

Why not? Read more
Published on May 7 2010 by B. Keith
5.0 out of 5 stars 25th Anniversary This Year
2008 marks the 25th anniversary of "Local Hero," so when will we see a special collector's edition with all the bells and whistles this wonderful film deserves? Read more
Published on Jan. 10 2008 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Wish I could give this more than 5
One of my all-time favorite movies. Very funny, great characters, and a town I would like to live in, with one of my all-time favourite endings. Read more
Published on Sept. 16 2004 by Kilgore
1.0 out of 5 stars difference of opinion
This is one of those movies that you watch and finally when the credits roll you kick yourself for wasting the time and effort to do so.
The bomb dropping jets? Read more
Published on June 19 2004 by mitch43
5.0 out of 5 stars Where's Bill Forsythe when we need him?
This movie really did inspire me. I got up the nerve to make a solo trip around Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales. Read more
Published on April 25 2004 by S. E. Fanning
5.0 out of 5 stars Roles reversed
My history with this film is rather bizarre. My father was an American oilman who married a Scottish woman (East coast though), but were in New Orleans at the time it was released. Read more
Published on Dec 2 2003 by A. G. Purker
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dangerous Movie
If you're at all impressionable, and if you've ever felt that there's got to be something more to life than shopping malls and SUV's, then it may be safest if you avoid watching... Read more
Published on Dec 2 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars the sleeper!
Published on Nov. 22 2003 by John V. Ellingson
5.0 out of 5 stars Al Gore's favorite!
Now that doesn't sound like a glowing recommendation necessarily, and I don't think it helped DVD sales during the 2000 campaign any more Dukakis helped MY DINNER WITH ANDRE (his... Read more
Published on Sept. 12 2003 by 2nearsighted
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