“Water” is the latest production from George’s film company Hand Made Films. Like most of the company’s output this is another in their fine tradition of comedies. The film has an added bonus for Beatle fans because both George and Ringo are featured. I’ll tell you more about that later.
The film tells the story of the island of Cascara, a (fictional) British dependency in the Caribbean. Unfortunately it is not much of a tourist attraction as there is no beach and it it constantly windy. Cascara is ruled over by Governor Baxter Thwaites, played by the superb Michael Caine. (Caine rises in diplomatic stature with this role, having played a mere unpaid official in the film for which Macca wrote the theme, “The Honorary Consul”). Baxter is content to linger in the colonial backwater, growing and smoking pot (Paul would like this movie) organising cricket matches and writing to Whitehall for additional aid. Recently the total of aid given has been zero!
Baxter’s other problems are twofold. Firstly there is his wife Dolores (Brenda Vaccaro) who is certainly not content with life on Cascara and spends most of the film trying to get off the island. Then there is local rebel leader Delgado who is one of a number of illegitimate children of the elderly parson, the Rev. Eric McNab (Fulton Mackay). Billy Connolly, who plays the character, explains Delgado’s part; “He’s taken it upon himself to free the island of British rule, and he fancies himself as a sort of Che Guevara! He’s promised never to speak until the island is free, so he sings everything with a guitar accompaniment. He’s a bit of a loony… but actually he’s quite a nice, dedicated bloke, just terribly misguided. He’s like a lot of people I know-very sincere, but in the wrong street.”
Delgada is certainly very ambitious and smuggles two Cuban revolutionaries on to the island but even Cuba, it seems, is none too concerned with tiny Cascara, until that is it appears that the giant oil company SPENCO are taking an interest in the island,
Has oil been discovered? No, but what they do strike is pure mineral water, with extra qualities. This is something that in this day and age is worth a fortune. Cascara could be in business!
Meanwhile back in Whitehall an ambitious official Sir Malcolm Leveridge (Leonard Rossitor, in his last screen role before his tragic death), convinces the Foreign Sec. that in order to avoid trouble and a possible revolution, that the island be shut down and the inhabitants sent to a more prosperous dependency nearby. Sir Malcolm in sent to Cascara to break the news.
Feeling let down by the British Government, Baxter throws in his lot with Delgado, for the sake of Cascara’s future. Cascara now becomes increasingly important on the diplomatic front due to the water and the political storm caused by Whitehall. Cascara now becomes the target of invasion by big business, revolutionaries, French mercenaries and seemingly hundreds of film crews.
The diplomatic storm raging around Cascara reaches its climax when Delgado represents the island’s Liberation Front at the United Nations. Inevitably, as the famed Singing Rebel Delgado sings his speech, in the form of a song called ‘Freedom’ (actually written by Eric Clapton and Ian La Frenais). It is here where he is joined by one or two friends of fellow CLF member, Pamela (Valerie Perrine) for this worldwide plea for freedom.
Her friends include George, Ringo, Eric Clapton, Jon Lord and Ray Cooper. It is great to see George in the limelight once again, as he has been out of the public eye for quite a while. (This is a feeling expressed to me by George’s father-in-law who was well chuffed to see him stepping out in public again through this film.) It is particularly good to see the man playing guitar, singing backing vocals and looking so happy, with his inevitable toothy grin! He still plays and sings in exactly the same way as he always has done; brilliantly. Unfortunately Ringo doesn’t look particularly happy in this movie, perhaps after “Broad Street”, he’s getting used to playing grumpy drummers. The song itself is pretty good and I would love to see it released as a single, if only for the chance of seeing the clip, and hence George, on Top Of The Pops!
After the film reaches its conclusion with Cascara gaining its freedom but losing its water (in a surprising fashion). However just when it looks as though the island will be financially destitute they discover something more valuable than water (and its not the droppings of the long-eared, horseshoe bat either).
The film is fast moving and full of quick jokes. The script was written by Dick Clement, Ian La Frenais and Bill Persky. The first two were particularly enthusiastic about the possibilities of the story and began to write a draft script but before long they found history creeping up on them. First there was the Falklands War and then the American invasion of Grenada. As Clement points out “Naturally, we found ourselves referring to both in the script but our object, after all, was to make people laugh.” Laughter is certainly what the trio create in the film.
One of the reasons the film is so entertaining is the superb soundtrack, The title song by Eddy Grant is particularly catchy and I do like George’s song ‘Celebration’, though I would much rather have heard him singing it. Let’s hope that a soundtrack LP comes out soon!
By Rob Turner. [January 1985].