This BBC story about the re-opening of the Pennan Inn in Pennan, Aberdeenshire took me back to Bill Fosyth’s Local Hero (’83). The inn is the one visited by Peter Reigert and run by Denis Lawson in this beloved film, which…good God, I can’t believe it’s been 26 years since I first saw it at the Warner Bros. screening room on 50th Street. Is there anyone who’s seen this poignant and bittersweet love story/fairy tale who hasn’t felt some kind of meltdown effect?
You can’t quite hear the ringing telephone inside the red booth on this YouTube clip (i.e., the very last shot in the film), but my eyes moisten every time I watch it, even without having seen the entire film beforehand. (Although I’ve seen the film at least seven or eight times.) It plucks a chord that feels sad, serene and melancholy all at once.
The caller is Reigert’s MacIntyre, a Houston oil executive who arrives in Pennan (called Ferness in the film) near the beginning to negotiate an oil refinery land buy. But he becomes disengaged from the mission and starts to just feel the mystical Northern Scotland vibe for what it is, and what he is, being of pretended Scottish descent. (His Hungarian grandparents chose the last name arbitrarily.) He slowly falls in love with the place and the people, and is all but heartbroken when he’s forced to return to Houston.
We’re all on the other end of that ringing phone, looking to know and touch something more primal and lasting in our lives.
Warner Home Video needs to upgrade the DVD they issued ten years ago, and put out a Blu-ray as well.