I mentioned back in the beginning of the month that The Coca-Cola Kid would be one of two movies where the theme was puncturing the arrogance that some Americans have. Here's the bookend, the delightful Bill Forsyth comedic commentary, Local Hero (1983).
The plotline hews perilously close to The Coca-Cola Kid. A Yankee comes to some far-off place to spread a few US dollars around and buy up something of local charm and worth. It was a soda-pop company in the Australian-set The Coca-Cola Kid that Eric Roberts was trying buy. In Local Hero, Peter Reigert's out to buy a whole Scottish sea-side town in order to build an oil refinery there.
I have just about always liked Reigert's work. He does 'wry' awfully well. He's plain likeable in almost everything he does, even here, as he invades the town of Furness at the behest of his Texas oilman boss, played by Burt Lancaster, in full big britches mode. Expecting a quick finish to his business, Reigert is surprised that he will be staying awhile. He finds time to bond with some of the locals as his attempt to buy up the town goes in circles and circles.
Things happen. Some things little, some things bigger, some things just plain mystical. Reigert and assistant Peter Capaldi cause a bit of a fuss by running over a rabbit while motoring about. Then there are the Russians and the issue of the mermaid. Love blooms in so many ways. It's as if the little Scottish town is the lodestone for yearning and the solution to those feelings. Standouts for me amongst the locals were Urquhart, played by Dennis Lawson, and Marina, played by Jenny Seagrove. They're just two of the characters that linger long after the final credits roll.
The town captures the hearts and minds of both Reigert's Mac and Capaldi's Danny. Lancaster arrives to set things right late in the movie, baffled by the apparent act of his ace, Mac, going native. In far less time than it took for Mac to become enraptured, Lancaster's Felix joins the fine folk of Furness in spirit and mind.
All of this magic by Forsyth is polished to a degree of delight I haven't seen much of over the years. He adds in the Northern Lights and a great score by Mark Knopfler to make the words, sounds and pictures coalesce into that rarest of all things, a feeling of happiness.
You owe it to yourself to be happy today. Rent it.