Top 20 Scottish Films of the 20th Century (Part 2)

Submitted by Robert Alstead on Sun, 08/01/1999 - 22:53
Ewen Bremner, Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle in Trainspotting

Richard Mowe, curator of film at the Lumiere Cinema, National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, selects the best Scottish films from over the last century. This is the second part.

Seaward the Great Ships (1961)
Dir. Hilary Harris
Based on a treatment by John Grierson, this documentary about Glasgow’s seafaring tradition, directed by New Yorker Hilary Harris, won Scotland its first Oscar for best short film (live action) in 1961.

Silent Scream (1990)
Dir. David Hayman
The true story of Larry Winters, a Scot sentenced to life for the killing of a Soho barman, which gets under his skin and inside a mind scrambled by drugs. Won Iain Glen a best actor award at the Berlin Film Festival.

Small Faces (1995)
Dir. Gillies MacKinnon
This rites of passage journey, set in 1968 Glasgow, directed by Gillies MacKinnon and co-written by his brother Billy, follows three brothers (JS Duffy, Joseph McFadden and Iain Robertson) as they make decisions about where their loyalties and ambitions lie in between relationships, peer pressure and tribal warfare. MacKinnon always has been regarded as a masterful director of actors, and none more so than here. His portrait is uncompromising, honest, and above all invested with a questing intelligence.

The Spy in Black (1939)
Dir: Emeric Pressburger and Michael Powell
The first collaboration from the legendary tandem of Pressburger and Powell -- a spy melodrama set in Orkney and featuring Conrad Veidt as a naval captain trying to make contact with a German agent. Valerie Hobson shimmers her way into the equation as the femme fatale.

Stella Does Tricks (1996)
Dir. Coke Giedroye
A tough and gritty exploration of a girl drawn into prostitution in London to escape her Glaswegian background. Written by acclaimed author A L Kennedy, the script provocatively plays with the humour and tragedy of the situation. Kelly McDonald confirms her position as one of Scotland’s brightest acting talents.

Tickets for the Zoo (1991)
Dir. Brian Crumlish
Down and out, struggling on the wild side to keep body and soul together in a pre-Trainspotting Edinburgh. Siblings Carol and George try to think positive, but she loses her flat when she refuses to do a little bondage on the side. Powerful and moving with gritty performances from Alice Bree, Tom Smith and Micky MacPherson.

Trainspotting (1995)
Dir. Danny Boyle
Irvine Welsh’s interior monologue is transformed into an exhilarating exposé of aimless lives fuelled, and made bearable, by drugs. Launched a raft of the Mac pack: Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner et al.

Venus Peter (1989)
Dir. Ian Sellar
A marvelous evocation of a childhood imagination taking flights in a small fishing community. Filmed in Orkney, but based on Christopher Rush’s semi-autobiographical "Twelve Months and a Day", set in St Monans, it marked the first collaboration of producer Christopher Young and director Ian Sellar. Peter (Gordon R Strachan) leads a magical existence, brought up by his grandfather (Ray McAnally) and taught about life and beauty by his teacher (Sinead Cusack), all against a background of an inbred and insular community. Intriguing and touching.

Whisky Galore
High spirited comedy Whisky Galore

Whisky Galore (1949)
Dir: Alexander Mackendrick
Fine vintage Ealing comedy, directed by Alexander Mackendrick, in which canny Hebridean islanders hijack a wrecked wartime cargo of whisky. Much imitated, but it stands repeated viewings.

The Wicker Man (1973)
Dir. Robin Hardy
Christopher Lee claims he gives his best performance in a film whose cult status soars with every showing. Lee heads a pagan cult on a Scottish island community, leading to a heady examination of Christianity and devil worship. Chilling, bizarre... and erotic.