Hebridean Product Placement-Continuing.

24 06 2013

Old Sys will have had a chuckle to themselves on seeing all this fuss in the papers recently about Ben Affleck’s Harris tweed chacket in the recent blockbuster film “Argo”. In fact, there’s a long history of Outer Hebridean ‘Product Placement’ in the movies and TV, going back to the earliest days of the kinematograph and the magic lantern. Long term readers of this blog will no doubt remember a previous entry on this particular topic – https://stornowayhistory.wordpress.com/2010/04/13/stornowegian-merchandising-opportunities-in-film-and-telly/ but we feel it is worthy to revisit this subject given some recently unearthed information on product placement.

Charlie Chaplin’s famous walking stick was ‘borrowed’ from Dun Berisay in 1889 when he was on a tour entertaining the OAPs of the Hebrides. Back then he was called Charlie (St Molougs) Chapel and went under the stage name ‘The Little Ceart’.

Laurel and Hardy’s collapsing Model T Ford was originally from Miller’s garage. Laurel was on his holidays at his aunties in Ness when he was press-ganged to help with the peats. As he sweated away on the tairesgear, he noticed a posh townie family out cutting their peats. Not content with lugging hefty creels of peat back to Matheson Rd, the townies had brought their Model T Ford with them to ferry the peats home in comfort and style. It seemed a good idea at the time, but after loading the poor car up with 40 hessian sacks full of peats, the journey back to the town was one which left a trail of springs, bumpers, starting handles and assorted oil leaks (not to mention the discarded peats in the cars wake). The townie car owner was overheard to say ‘Well, here’s another nice Ness you’ve gotten me into’ as the car gave up the ghost in Habost.

Still in the black and white era, for many years the gangster hats worn by George Raft, Edward G Robinson and James Cagney were provided by Mackenzie & Macsween. Keen fans of the gangster genre will notice that the hats in the Godfather films aren’t a patch on the ones in the original 1930s and 40s movies. This is because whenever Francis Ford Coppola attempted to purchase a gangster hat in the shop, Ailig Mhurchadh Neill would refuse to sell him any because he wasn’t an elder.

The Boiler Suits in ‘Ghostbusters’ were a special limited edition produced by the Crofters. The theme song originally had the lyrics ‘I ain’t afraid of no (Coinneach) Gobh’s’.

George Clooney’s wellies in ‘The Perfect Storm’ were from the Stornoway Fishermen’s Co-op.

Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Sophie Loren all got their beannags from Murdo Maclean’s in the 60s.

The monolith in ‘2001 a Space Odyssey’ was a giant black pudding from MacAskill’s butchers that had come out square due to a malfunction in the shop’s automatic marag-making machine. A posse of Stornoway worthies had been rounded up and instructed to take it to the dump, with the promise of a half-bottle of White Horse between them at the end of it. As B*gie, D*ggum Da et al stood around the gigantic black slab, discussing in grunts and gestures how they were going to shift it, they were spotted by Stanley Kubrick. Kubrick– home visiting his auntie on Seaforth Road – was immediately inspired. He paid Hector the butcher a fiver, crated up the marag (and the worthies gathered around it) and shipped the lot down to Pinewood on the next boat.

The Bus in ‘The Italian Job’ was from Mitchell’s – Baalan was moonlighting on the film without the garage’s knowledge. The end scenes were filmed on the Clisham road and not in Switzerland as many suppose.

R2D2 in Star Wars was a pedal bin from James Mackenzie’s

A cailleach in Borve supplied the bobban socks which all the armed robbers wore over their faces in the first series of the Sweeney.

The famous Bobban Geansaidhs in the Danish detective series ‘The Killing’ were all knitted to order by a team of Lewis grannies. Originally the series was to have been made by BBC Alba and was to have been called ‘The Herring’.



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