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Thursday, September 27, 2007

I mentioned this movie before (see Clyde Puffers below) but couldn't post a review until today. Suffice it to say, it's a gem. Reminds me, in spirit, of another movie I reviewed here, I Know Where I'm Going, similar in that it also involves a fish-out-of-water traveling to far off locales and meeting richly engrossing characters of the Scottish seacoast. Although, in The Maggie, one could say the main character isn't of flesh and blood but rather riveted steel and coal.

The stage is set from the start when the boat enters Glasgow and the two harbor masters make a rather disparaging remark about both vessel and crew. From that moment on the Maggie is on a journey to save herself from the scrap yard. Fortunately for the tired old gal, she has a dedicated, tenacious captain and a crew who love her and will do anything to save her.

There are some ethical issues regarding the captain's methods of obtaining the cargo that will ultimately pay the Maggie's trip up the ways to repair her thinning plates and tired old two-cylinder steam engine. But who in their right frame of mind would fault a desperate man for keeping his mouth shut and choosing not to sink his only chance of survival and salvation?

On the other hand, Captain MacTaggart must be more than just mum in order to save his boat. He must be wily as a fox. And wily he is as the story unfolds, taking us from Scottish port to Scottish port, through the Western isles and Hebrides, through the canals, onto the flats, hitherto and yonder; MacTaggart and the crew of the Maggie doing their best to outsmart and outrun the man who hired them, just so they can get the job done and get their three hundred pounds.

As I mentioned earlier, the Clyde Puffers attained mythical status thanks to the serialized musings of author Neil Munroe. I have Munroe's book as well and started reading it a few days ago. Although there is no reference in the movie to Munroe's fictional captain (Para Handy) or his boat the Vital Spark, this film does them both justice. In many ways it's much better than the BBC TV adaptations, which were, as I'm told by a very reliable source, full of lager and whiskey mayhem.

The Maggie: Four and a half out of five stars.


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