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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

Most helpful customer reviews
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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4.0 out of 5 stars Charming, quirky film set in Scotland May 24 2013
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." It concerns a trio of executives from a huge Houston corporation (led by Burt Lancaster, who is excellent in an unusual-for-him comic role) who travel to the remote Scottish Highlands to negotiate the purchase of an entire village as an oil trans-shipment port. The film's appeal is hard to explain: much of the humor is of the dead-pan, shaggy dog type, and the atmosphere continually verges on fantasy without quite showing anything that's literally impossible. The well-photographed Scottish landscape is extremely beautiful. All in all, a very enjoyable, unfairly neglected film. No particular advisories, though much of the humor will be beyond children. Warner Home Video DVD transfer very good.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 25th Anniversary This Year Jan. 10 2008
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? Anyone know who we should petition?
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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 Wish I could give this more than 5 Sept. 16 2004
By Kilgore
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. First DVD I bought when I got a player.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Where's Bill Forsythe when we need him? April 25 2004
This movie really did inspire me. I got up the nerve to make a solo trip around Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.
The scenes, characters and sounds of this movie are simply unforgettable. For sure, it's a cold heart that won't come out speakin' with a Scots accent with a touch of Russia.
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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 Roles reversed Dec 2 2003
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. And also as a Scot I now find myself in Texas. This film and are inextricably linked somehow reflecting both sides of my family.
For the actual description of the film and the soundtrack there's little if any i can say that hasn't be said already. Other than that having a family that represents both sides of the divide, it holds special meaning for me.
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