I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING! (1945)

(Criterion/VOD) A very specific romantic drama from Michael Powel & Emeric Pressburger, where a willful woman — Joan Webster (Wendy Hiller) — has mapped out from her childhood the exact life she wants: to look lovely, to have fine things, and to have a husband with a title who can provide her with all she wants.

She has a life-plan which she’s followed through on and, frankly, most of us in these current days would envy.

She’s one step away from realizing it: she just needs one boat to see her to her title-bearing beau, and she’ll have seen her plan through. However, she meets Torquil MacNeil (Roger Livesey), a RAF sailor/landowner of a tiny Scottish island meant to shuttle her to her final destination, storms prevent her departure, and her plans start to unravel.

In less-capable hands I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING! could have been a treacly melodrama, but master filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (THE RED SHOES, BLACK NARCISSUS) deliver up an extraordinarily winsome and surprisingly thrilling romance that also acts as a love letter to rural Scotland, not unlike OUTLANDER but with significantly fewer rape scenes. It’s worth noting that, while much of it was shot on location at the Isle of Mull, a significant portion of the film was shot in a British studio due to Livesey’s work schedule, and the fact that the seams don’t show is a testament to cinematographer Erwin Hillier’s skills.

What’s especially intriguing about the film is that there’s none of the push-and-pull and internal questioning that you have with most modern romantic dramas. From the moment Joan meets Torquil, she immediately realizes she’s in trouble, that this man could upend all of her hard work. Granted, it’s never stated outright, but Powell & Pressburger do a fantastic job of conveying it visually.

Unfortunately I was unable to locate a trailer, so this memorable scene will have to suffice: