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I Know Where I’m Going (1945): When the Best-Laid Plans Go Astray

Vintage Film Review: I Know Where I’m Going (1945)

I Know Where I’m Going is a black-and-white beauty of a film. Created by the acclaimed British filmmaking duo, Powell and Pressburger, it is truly a romantic delight. The film is incredibly atmospheric, actually filmed – for the most part – on location and outside in the Scottish Hebrides. The wind, the waves, the moors – all are featured. Gaelic is spoken. Legends are told. Dances are held. I Know Where I’m Going is incredibly rich in folkloric details, all of which combine into this wonderfully windswept moody romance.


Wendy Hiller stars as Joan Webster, an ambitious, social-climbing, spunkily independent Englishwoman, who has made careful and meticulous plans for her life. These plans include marrying for money. So, she arrives on the Isle of Mull to catch a boat to the very remote Isle of Kiloran, where her very old and very rich hubby-to-be is awaiting her arrival. She’s to be married as soon as possible.

But the weather turns. First, the fogs roll in and dash any plans to sail over to Kiloran. Then, the gales come and whip up the seas, and she remains stranded on the Isle of Mull and in the company of one very charming Scottish naval officer, Torquil MacNeil (Roger Livesey). And the storms blowing outside are nothing compared to the storms raging within our heroine.

When the Best-Laid Plans Go Astray – For Joy

The great Scottish poet, Robbie Burns, once wrote:

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

And for our English lass Joan, the longer she finds herself on Mull, together with Torquil MacNeil, the more her plans begin to fall apart. She denies again and again the chemistry between them. She has a rich, industrialist fiancé literally in the horizon. But Torquil is charmingly persistent, challenging her daily to rewrite those meticulous plans. Because he’s starting to plan himself for a life with a certain headstrong woman in it.


Oh, it’s good. There’s classic rat-a-tat dialogue, lots of melodrama, and a very satisfying denouement. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s really rather delicious. Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey have great chemistry. The Hebridean landscapes and seascapes are stunning. It’s all so beautifully filmed. There are so very many things to recommend I Know Where I’m Going.

See it. It’s a joy to behold.

Where to Watch: DVD, YouTube.

Content Note: Nothing to come after.

Have you seen I Know Where I’m Going? What are your thoughts on this classic romance?

Photo Credits: General Film Distributors


Five Corset Rating Lower Byte Size

“The stuff that dreams are made of.”


Five heart rating

“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.

I have loved none but you.”

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By on October 18th, 2018

About Jessica Jørgensen

A lover of words, stories and storytellers since her youth and just plain curious by nature, Jessica embarked on a very long academic journey that took her across a continent (from Canada's west coast to its east) and even to the other side of the globe, where she currently lives an expat existence in Denmark. She now trails many fancy initials behind her name, if she ever cares to use them, and continues to be ever so curious. She's a folklorist, a mother, a wife, a middle child, a small town girl, a beekeeper, an occasional quilter, a jam-maker. She curates museum exhibits, gets involved in many cultural projects for this and that, collects oral histories when she can find the time and continues to love stories in all their many and varied forms. The local librarians all know her by name.

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8 thoughts on “I Know Where I’m Going (1945): When the Best-Laid Plans Go Astray”

  1. Aw, this is one of my mum’s favourites – she and my dad recently did a trip round the locations for their anniversary and stayed at the hotel Joan stays at – it still looks exactly the same and the phonebox by the waterfall is still there! The plot always reminds me of Leap Year too?

    • Oh, I love that your parents planned a trip based on this movie! It is indeed a movie that makes you want to go there. You fall in love with the place watching it. And I haven’t actually seen Leap Year, but I’ve read the review here on the Silver Petticoat, and it’s been on my to-see list for awhile now. Will have to get around to it.

  2. I’ve seen this one too, but it’s been so long. Who can go wrong here?

    I love that Catherine (above comment) has such a great story to go along with it!

  3. Oh man, just watched this for the first time last night after reading this article. What a gem!!! Thanks so much for the recommendation!! What a fantastic and well-done movie! Loved the characters and the cast, the story, the scenery, the way everything was done was just awesome! 😀 Definitely a new favorite. =)
    I’d seen Wendy Hiller in Pygmalion and absolutely loved her in that, so it was great seeing her in another “romantic dramedy”. I however had never seen Roger Livesey in anything; totally fell in love with him! I was put off by his voice a bit at first (kinda like the first time I saw Alan Rickman in Sense and Sensibility, and then totally fell in love with him by the end of the movie, LoL!), but loved it by the end. LoL! Roger did so well at finding the balance for his character between being a strong and confident man, and also a total sweetheart. Definitely “swoon-worthy”. =) ANYways, thanks again for the recommendation! Love love love it!

    • So glad you found it and loved it. I first saw it one night as the late show on TV and was totally smitten. Fell in love with Roger Livesey as well (-: Love his distinctive voice now. And then I binged on it to write the article, watched it multiple times in a week, smiling every single time. It stands the test of time.


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