“I Know Where I’m Going!” (1945)

“When Joan was only one year old, she already knew where she was going.”

IKWIG Poster

Synopsis:
When heavy storms prevent a headstrong young woman (Wendy Hiller) from reaching her wealthy fiance on a remote Scottish isle, she gets to know the nearby locals — including naval officer Torquil MacNeil (Roger Livesey).

Genres:

Review:
Directorial partners Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger made many highly regarded films together, including Black Narcissus (1947), The Red Shoes (1948), and Peeping Tom (1960). However, this fable-like romance — co-starring Wendy Hiller (Pygmalion, 1938) and strange-voiced Roger Livesey (The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, 1943) — remains the most charming of them all, telling the simple yet effective tale of a willful woman who gradually learns to trust her heart rather than her head, all while being seduced by the magic of the Scottish isles. The b&w cinematography is truly stunning, making this romantic gem both a visual and narrative delight.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Wendy Hiller as the headstrong heroine
  • Roger Livesey as Hiller’s would-be love interest
  • Haunting, high-contrast cinematography
  • Creative opening titles
  • Many whimsical visuals, as when Hiller dreams of the Scottish hills covered in tartan plaid

Must See?
Yes. This romantic fable is one of Powell and Pressburger’s most enjoyable movies, and should be seen by all film fanatics.

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(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)

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One Response to ““I Know Where I’m Going!” (1945)”

  1. A must – but with a strong caveat.

    Most of the films made by Powell and Pressburger are indeed musts for ffs, without qualification.

    ‘I Know…’, however, is something of an anomaly. It is certainly an admirable piece of craftsmanship, rich in visual and cultural atmosphere, and stunningly filmed – often in a gothic black and white. (Near the end, the sequences on a stormy sea are nothing short of remarkable.)

    Unfortunately, the film also contains a central performance by Wendy Hiller which – for two-thirds of the film’s 90 min. – borders on insufferable. (In most of the last 30 min., she is simply helping to keep a boat afloat – so there’s little opportunity to be annoying.) Hiller belongs to a choice group of actresses quite adept at playing strong/cold/repressed. This is less of a problem in certain films (‘Separate Tables’, ‘Toys in the Attic’). But here she really is just about impossible to like – which, I know, is the point, but it tends to make the film’s conclusion a little hard to buy. It also makes for head-scratching that Livesey would fall in love with her. As the film opens, we’re treated to an undeniably charming prologue which lays out the fact that Hiller’s character is going to be a force to be reckoned with. However, the comical tone of this prologue leads us to believe that Hiller’s Joan will become a woman with a kind of stand-out pizazz or effervescence. It’s all the more disappointing when we realize that Joan has grown into a self-serving idiot.

    Of course, all does end well and Joan – perhaps simply a misunderstood (esp. to herself) well of emotion – does see the light. But, myself, I think it’s a stretch.

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