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Local Hero (1983)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

'Mac' MacIntyre, a deal-maker for Houston-based oil company Knox Industries, is summoned to meet his boss Mr Happer, who wants him to go to Furness Bay in Scotland to negotiate purchasing the land as a site for a new refinery. Happer reveals his keen interest in astronomy.

Mac arrives in Aberdeen and meets his colleague Danny Oldsen. They are shown a model of the proposed refinery by scientists who are excited at the prospect of building the petrochemical capital of the free world. Danny is more interested in their colleague Marina.

Danny and Mac drive to Furness Bay but get lost in the fog and run over a rabbit. They put it in the back seat and sleep in the car. The next morning, they name it Trudy.

Arriving in Furness, they meet accountant-cum-hotelier Gordon Urquhart. Mac asks him to co-ordinate the purchase of the village and the surrounding land, money no object. Gordon asks Mac to come back the next day, when he'll have the relevant figures.

Danny and Mac walk on the beach and discuss how important oil is to the world. Mac asks Danny if he knows anything about the stars. He rings Houston and says that he'll have to stay in Scotland a bit longer.

Gordon holds an impromptu town meeting in the church. Spotting Mac and Danny approaching, the Nigerian-born vicar Murdo MacPherson goes outside and discusses the sale of the church. Returning to the town, Mac sees an old man walking on the beach.

At lunch, Mac discovers that the old man is Ben, who lives on the beach in a shack. He also discovers that the delicious 'casserole de lapin' is made from the late Trudy. Gordon explains that he doesn't allow animals in the hotel, and in any case she had a broken leg.

Outside, Mac chats to the villagers, and discovers that they can't afford the lobsters that they catch. They are surprised that he only has one job.

Walking on the clifftop, Danny sees Marina in a wetsuit. She's doing a biological profile of the area. She is under the impression that Mac and Danny plan to build a marine laboratory - her long-term dream. Danny is too smitten to correct her.

Gordon suggests setting up a trust fund to keep the community together, and haggles with Mac over whether proposed figures are in pounds or dollars. A meteor shower begins.

Happer rings Mac, but is more interested in hearing about the sky than the deal. He fires his therapist, Moritz, who has been getting deliberately abusive in an attempt at bringing Happer out of his shell.

A Russian sailor, Victor Pinochkin, arrives in Furness Bay. Danny teaches Marina basic Japanese by naming various body parts, and discovers that she has webbed feet. Gordon and Victor discuss the latter's investments.

A ceilidh is held. Danny is stalked by a young punk girl. Mac and Gordon discuss terms. Victor sings in English. The village elders discuss what to do with their riches. Gordon plays accordion, and Mac waltzes with his wife Stella. Victor tells Mac that Furness Bay belongs to the people who live there, and it's their right to make what they want of it. To his surprise, Mac agrees.

Danny confesses to Marina about the oil terminal. She takes it calmly, as she doesn't believe it will happen. They are distracted by the Northern Lights. Mac rings Happer, who asks for a full description - Happer has seen them too, but not since 1953 in Alaska. He tells his secretary that he will be out of the office for a few days.

Gordon discovers that Ben owns the beach outright. Mac tries to negotiate with him, but Ben isn't interested. He agrees to come for a meal in the hotel, but remains tight-lipped. He returns to his shack, to be confronted by angry villagers.

Happer's helicopter arrives. After discovering that he has a large telescope, he has a private meeting with Ben, and decides to scrap the oil refinery in favour of a research institute for astronomy and marine biology. Danny tells Marina the good news. Mac returns to Houston and mooches around his flat. Back in Furness, the phone rings.