Scottish Book-to-Screen Adaptation Shortlist

Still from Another Time, Another Place
Category: Reading

To help inform your vote in our search for the world's favourite Scottish book-to-screen adaptation, we've compiled information about every film and TV series on this year's 40-strong shortlist. 

The shortlist contains everything from Peter Pan to The Crow Road and was based on research and nominations made by the general public. Our criteria stated that any adaptation of a Scottish book is eligible, including adaptations of books by Scottish authors, books written by authors based in Scotland, and books which celebrate Scotland - think Outlander. 

Our panel of experts (see below for more) thought long and hard about our shortlist and they're proud of the final 40. If you disagree, however, please add your favourite films and TV series to the comments under this post.

Don't forget to cast your vote for your favourite adaptation and share your thoughts on Twitter and Facebook using #ScotAdaptationVote.

 

A Sense of Freedom (1979)

Film adapted from A Sense of Freedom by Jimmy Boyle

Directed by: John Mackenzie

IMDB rating: 7.2

The life and times of one of Scotland’s most notorious hard-men, Jimmy Boyle, was brought to life on screen in 1981. Starring David Hayman in the lead role, A Sense of Freedom is an adaptation of Jimmy Boyle’s autobiography. Not for the faint-hearted, it tells the harrowing tale of a brutal criminal, the prison system that tried to break him and how, through his art and rehabilitation, Jimmy Boyle helped to lay the foundations for prison reform. (DS)

 

Another Time, Another Place (1983)

Film adapted from Another Time, Another Place by Jessie Kesson

Directed by: Michael Radford

IMDB rating: 6.6

A beautiful and touching adaptation of Jessie Kesson’s novel. Set in remote Scotland during 1940s war-time, Janie (Phyllis Logan) is a young housewife, desperately seeking meaning and purpose in her isolated existence with her older and uncaring husband, Dongal. To play their part in the war efforts, Janie and Dongal welcome three Italian POWs to work on their farm, but Janie falls in love with one of the prisoners and gets tangled up in a doomed affair. The film is devoid of any of the cheap sentiments that you may expect from “fell in love with the enemy” plots. It’s realistic, yet still packs an incredibly emotive punch and the shots of the landscape are raw and vivid. (MM) 

 

Cal (1983)

Film adapted from Cal by Bernard MacLaverty

Directed by: Pat O'Connor

IMDB rating: 6.7

A compelling adaptation of Scotland-based Bernard MacLaverty’s book, the film captures the tension, distrust and violence of Ireland in the 1980s - and the desire that many had to break free of a life determined by political unrest. Cal (John Lynch), a young man involved loosely with the IRA, is fraught with guilt over the murder of a policeman and tries to disconnect himself from his dangerous lifestyle. He falls in love with love with librarian Marcella (Helen Mirren, who won the best actress award at Cannes for her performance) and together they seek a life away from The Troubles. A beautiful and mournful account that is supported by a haunting score by Mark Knopfler.  

 

Case Histories (2011-)

TV series adapted from Jackson Brodie novels by Kate Atkinson

IMDB rating: 8.0

Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie novels put a warmer, more humane spin on tartan noir - and bringing them to the screen meant finding exactly the right actor to capture the magnetism and eccentricity of her central detective. Enter Jason Isaacs, with the bluest eyes in the business, a fine balance of humour and grit and just the right amount of the weight of the world on his shoulders. Fine actors from Victoria Wood to Zawe Ashton, James Cosmo and Siobhan Redmond joined him in making this two-series BBC adaptation a hit. (HM)

 

Crowdie and Cream (2002)

TV series adapted from Crowdie and Cream by Finlay J. MacDonald

IMDB rating: 6.8

Finlay J. MacDonald was a respected radio journalist, television producer and writer, born and raised on the Isle of Harris. A native Gaelic speaker, he wrote three volumes of memoirs, the first of which, Crowdie and Cream, was adapted by BBC Scotland in 2002 and starred Iain Macrae. Crowdie and Cream sensitively tracks island life from the Depression to WW2, all the while bringing alive the day-to-day life of a unique Hebridean community. If you are keen to find more about MacDonald’s unique insight into Hebridean life, watch The Corncrake and the Croft on YouTube narrated by the man himself. (DS)

 

Dr Finlay's Casebook (1962-71)

TV series adapted from Country Doctor by A. J. Cronin

IMDB rating: 8.8

Dr Finlay's Casebook

A.J. Cronin was the primary writer for the first two years of this much-beloved small-screen adaptation of his novella, Country Doctor. All the storylines involved in this show's nine-year run centred on a GP’s practice in the fictional town of Tanochbrae during the late 1920s. Actors Bill Simpson and Andrew Cruickshank became household names for their portrayals of Dr Alan Finlay and Dr Angus Cameron, respectively. In fact, such was the show’s popularity that A.J. Cronin received sacksful of mail when rumour got out that he was pushing for an end to the show in 1964 – due to his dissatisfaction with the show’s progression – prompting him to release an official statement on the matter, to the contrary. Luckily for fans, the series continued for another seven, wildly popular years. (DS)

 

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931)

Film adapted from The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Directed by: Rouben Mamoulian

IMDB rating: 7.7

Based on Robert Louis Stevenson's novella, Mamoulian’s adaptation perfectly captures Stevenson's intentions of conveying a “split-self” and how the battle of good versus evil rages within every one of us. Fredric March plays Dr. Henry Jekyll, a reserved scientist who devotes his time to testing a theory that every man houses a good and an evil force. Jekyll creates a formula that exposes both sides but soon realises that he is becoming addicted to his darker and un-inhibited alter-ego, Mr Hyde. From then on in, it’s a constant battle to suppress the monster. Miriam Hopkins plays Ivy, a pretty dance hall girl who could be the key to luring Jekyll back onto the path of goodness. (MM)

 

Filth (2013)

Film adapted from Filth by Irvine Welsh

Directed by: Jon S. Baird

IMDB rating: 7.1

James McAvoy decisively put his good-guy image behind him when he took the role of the Bruce Robertson in this movie version of Irvine Welsh’s madcap 1998 novel. Robertson is a cheat, a liar, a substance abuser, a guilt-ridden reality-denying fantasist – oh yes, and a cop. His web of scams and deceptions closes in on him as his grip on reality deteriorates, and director Jon S. Baird pulls no punches in the depiction. As for Welsh, he seemed pleased: the author described McAvoy’s performance as “better than Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver." (HM)

 

 

Geordie (1955)

Film adapted from Geordie by David Walker

Directed by: Frank Launder

IMDB rating: 7.1

Frank Launder directs Bill Travers as Geordie, a strapping Scottish Highlander who travels to Australia to take part in the Melbourne Olympics, representing Britain in hammer throwing. The film relies on occasional “och aye the noo” gags but what is most impressive is the beautiful technicolour that illuminates the pastel shades of green glens, deep-blue lochs and misty mountains of Scottish landscape. Geordie is a real visual treat. (MM)

 

Greyfriars Bobby (1961)

Film adapated from Greyfriar's Bobby byEleanor Atkinson

Directed by: Don Chaffey

IMDB rating: 7.4

We are all familiar with the tale: A Skye Terrier called Bobby forms an unbreakable bond with an auld farm hand. When the farm hand travels to Edinburgh, Bobby follows him and stands vigil on his grave every night after his master shuffles off this mortal coil. This 1961 Walt Disney adaptation of Eleanor Atkinson’s 1912 novel is designed to tug on the heart strings, and achieves just that. Good boy, Bobby. [sniff] Good boy. (DS)

 

Hamish Macbeth (1995-97)

TV series adapted from Hamish Macbeth novels by M. C. Beaton

IMDB rating: 7.8

Hamish Macbeth is a warm comedy/mystery/drama set in the fictional west coast town of Lochdubh (the series was filmed in Plockton) and based on the novels of M. C. Beaton. It follows the life, loves and investigations of a police constable in a quiet-yet-eccentric town doing his best to avoid promotion – and willing to bend the rules to keep the peace. Starring a young Robert Carlyle, the series ran from 1995-97 and built a loyal BBC1 following for its three-series run. (DS)

 

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Film adapted from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

Directed by: Alfonso Cuarón

IMDB rating: 8.1

The third film in the box-office-conquering Potter series signalled a point of maturity in more ways than one. As the lead characters (and actors) were leaving childhood and becoming young adults, so the films moved from being serviceable family-friendly entertainments to more considered and multi-layered adventures. Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón (who would go on to win an Oscar for his ground-breaking sci-fi Gravity) introduced a grittier look that would inform the rest of the series, while he simultaneously kept the story’s fantastical elements front-and-centre. Highlights include the Marauder’s Map, Hermione’s Time Turner and the first appearance of series favourite Sirius Black, played by Gary Oldman. (PG)

 

Ivanhoe (1952)  

Film adapted from Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott   

Directed by Richard Thorpe

IMDB rating: 6.8

On returning from the Crusades in the Holy Land, the chivalrous knight, Ivanhoe, discovers that King Richard the Lionheart is imprisoned and England is being ruled by the evil Prince John. The dialogue is slightly Americanised from Scott's original, but, as with other chivalric, swashbuckling Hollywood sagas of that era, Ivanhoe still maintains a poetic and romantic quality that makes it both enjoyable and memorable. Richard Thorpe’s film adaptation of Sir Walter Scott's novel is perfectly cast and the vivid colours and costume designs provide a banquet for the eyes. (MM)

 

Katie Morag (2013-)       

TV series adapted from Katie Morag books by Mairi Hedderwick 

Directed by: Don Coutts

IMDB rating: 7.3

It is often noted by experienced filmmakers that one of the key elements of a film’s success is found in casting, and it is certainly proven true by CBeebies’ TV adaptation of the phenomenally bestselling Katie Morag series. Author Mairi Hedderwick’s hand-painted character illustrations leap off the books’ pages in such fully-formed life, and the triumph of this series is in how closely the flesh-and-blood versions do the same, evoking a thrilling and fun sense of Scottish island living from a child’s perspective. (PG)

Tour through the world of Katie Morag on the BBC's official site.

 

Kick-Ass (2010) 

Film adapted from Kick-Ass by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn   

IMDB rating: 7.7

Based on the graphic novel written by Coatbridge’s Mark Millar MBE, Kick-Ass freshened up the superhero genre on screen with a delightfully dark, hilarious big-screen adaptation, directed by Matthew Vaughan. With strong turns by cult film’s Nick Cage, Kick-Ass is one of the few recent movies to utilise social media well as a plot device as it plays its part in catapulting Dave Lizewski from a hapless vigilante with a rubber dildo as a weapon to global superstardom. A riotous watch. (DS)

 

Morvern Callar (2002)

Film adapted from Morvern Callar by Alan Warner           

Directed by: Lynne Ramsay

IMDB rating: 6.7

Adapted from Warner’s critically acclaimed debut novel, Samantha Morton takes the lead as Morven Callar, a taciturn super-market worker who lives in small port town in the west of Scotland. Callar wakes one Christmas morning to discover that her boyfriend has killed himself and left a manuscript of his unpublished novel behind. She puts her own name on the work and sends it off to a publisher as if it is her own before setting off on holiday with her best friend. The subsequent journey prompts Morvern to address her feelings of grief and desire. Acclaimed Scottish director Lynne Ramsey's film is supported by a great soundtrack that includes Velvet Underground, Cocteau Twins and Nancy Sinatra. (MM)

 

Outlander (2014-)

TV series adapted from Outlander novels by Diana Gabaldon

IMDB rating: 8.5

Teaser poster for Outlander Season 2

Diana Gabaldon’s gift to the Scottish tourism industry is a swashbuckling, steamy time-travel tale to quicken the hearts of readers and, now, lovers of the small screen. A worldwide army of Outlander fans adore the tale of WW2 nurse Claire Randall’s trip to a 1743 Scotland nearing the denouement of the Jacobite Rebellions. There she meets the dashing Highland warrior Jamie Fraser - and it’s safe to say that the pair have chemistry. Sony Pictures' TV adaptation hasn’t disappointed so far, has boosted the skills and jobs in our film and TV industry, and may yet lead to the establishment of a long-overdue film studio in Scotland. (DS)

 

Peter Pan (1953)

Film adapted from The Adventures of Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie

Directed by: Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson     

IMDB rating: 7.3

What’s your favourite Disney animation? For Michael Jackson, and may others, it’s Disney’s 1953 adaptation of J.M. Barrie’s famous play-turned-children’s-book. As one of Walt Disney’s favourite stories, this classic might have been with us sooner had it not been for contractual difficulties between Disney and Great Ormond Street and the outbreak of WW2. In Disney's film, Wendy and her brothers are whisked away to the magical world of Neverland by the immortal, flying Peter Pan where they learn the words to ‘We Can Fly’, ‘Following the Leader’ and ‘A Pirate’s Life’. Fact: this adaptation is the only one of many since to contain original dialogue from Barrie’s play. (DS)

 

Rebus (2000-04)

TV series adapted from the John Rebus novels by Ian Rankin

IMDB rating: 7.6

Set in Edinburgh, Ken Stott takes up lead as the impulsive and volatile Detective Inspector John Rebus. Rebus is a hard-drinking, unkempt and unorthodox police officer whose job is his life - and occasionally gives insight into his mysterious military past. Ken Stott perfectly captures Ian Rankin's world-weary creation with his hoarse voice, brusque mannerisms and general aura of grumpiness. The episodes are a bit more TV-friendly than the books but, nevertheless, Stott's portrayal of the character elevates this adaptation of the Rebus novels to memorable heights. (MM)

 

Regeneration (1997)

Film adapted from Regeneration by Pat Barker

Directed by: Gillies MacKinnon   

IMDB rating: 7.1

The big-screen adaptation of Pat Barker’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel of the same title is a provoking, challenging and often a harrowing examination of the morality of war and its effects on its combatants. Regeneration tells the story of soldiers of World War One sent to Craiglockhart Asylum in Edinburgh. Two of the Asylum's patients are Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, who became two of England's most important WW1 poets. The cinematography of Gillies MacKinnon's adaptation beautifully compliments the plot. Well worth a rewatch. (MM)

 

Ring of Bright Water (1969)

Film adapted from Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell

Directed by: Jack Couffer

IMDB rating: 7.2

Gavin Maxwell’s account of caring for Mijbil, the otter he brought back from Iraq to care for at Sandaig near Glenelg, is one of the most popular wildlife books ever written. The feature film adaptation reunited the Born Free cast of Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna and is now held as one of the best-loved British films of all time – even if you do need a full packet of man-size tissues to watch it. Settle in for an enchanting tale filmed partly on the Isle of Seil in the Firth of Lorn. (DS)

 

Rob Roy (1995) 

Film adapted from Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott

Directed by: Michael Caton-Jones

IMDB rating: 6.9

Rob Roy MacGregor is an 18th-century Scottish clan chief who is compelled to battle a nasty nobleman in this 1995 adaptation of Walter Scott’s novel. Liam Neeson stars alongside Jessica Lange, John Hurt, Tim Roth and Brian Cox in this third celluloid telling of the story (previous adaptations were released in 1922 and 1953). According to its screenwriter, Rob Roy was devised as a Western set in the Highlands, but the film’s vivid depiction of early 17th-century life, and the characters it produced, gives it a strongly Scottish flavour. (DS)

 

Sherlock (2010-)

TV series adapted from Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

IMDB rating: 9.3

Beloved by audiences and critics alike, Mark Gattis and Steven Moffat’s present-day ‘reimagining’ of Sherlock Holmes pulls off a rare feat, being recognisably rooted in the source text while at the same time feeling significantly fresh and different from any previous adaptation. As played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Holmes is a jaw-droppingly misanthropic genius, and yet always remains just on the right side of audience sympathies. That’s mainly down to Martin Freeman’s beautifully grounded turn as Watson, always giving a human counter to Holmes’s cold reasoning. With writing that delights in delicious wordplay and exquisitely-planned plot twists, Sherlock ensures Conan Doyle’s creation continues to thrive. (PG)

 

Sunset Song (1971)

TV series adapted from Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

IMDB rating: 8.4

So successful was this six-part television serial made by BBC Scotland that it became a set text in Scottish schools and is still read for Higher classes today. This adaptation is heartfelt and keeps close to Grassic Gibbon’s wonderful first instalment of Scots Quair. Sunset Song is considered to be a hugely important book because of (among other things) its realistic depiction of women and childbirth, sexuality and harsh family life in the crofting communities, the TV adaptation does not shy away from dramatising these issues either.

Vivien Heilbron plays Chris Guthrie, a resilient young girl who is faced with a choice between her farming life and the seductive but distant world of books. Chris eventually decides to remain in Kinraddie, bound by her intense love of the land. (MM)

 

The 39 Steps (1935)

Film adapted from The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

IMDB rating: 7.8

The 39 Steps movie poster

John Buchan’s classic novel seems tailor-made for screen adaptation, with its breakneck plotting and country-spanning locations, so it’s no surprise that it has been adapted multiple times, with two new adaptations in the works even as you read this. But it’s difficult to imagine the original 1935 film version ever being bettered. The story is perfectly served by Alfred Hitchcock’s ability to combine suspense, adventure and knowing humour, and Robert Donat is brilliantly unflappable as the everyman inadvertently caught up in a deadly spy game. Add in sizzling chemistry between Donat and Madeleine Carroll, and the result is ageless movie magic. (PG)

 

The Crimson Petal and the White (2011)

TV series adapted from The Crimon Petal and the White by Michel Faber

IMDB rating: 7.7

Filmmakers, it seems, can’t get enough of Michel Faber’s novels. With the adaptation of Under the Skin winning plaudits, and an TV adaptation of The Book of Strange New Things in the pipeline, something in his writing seems to appeal to those who create art with the moving image. This four-part TV mini-series of Faber’s 2002 novel ran on BBC2 in 2011 and starred Romola Garai and Chris O’Dowd. It tells the tale of Sugar’s rise from prostitution to influence after she becomes William Rackham’s mistress and then most-trusted business advisor. (DS)

 

The Crow Road  (1996)

TV series adapted from The Crow Road by Iain Banks

IMDB rating: 8.3

The BBC’s 4-part adaptation of Iain Banks’s ninth novel offered a refreshing alternative to current TV drama in 1996, being a contemporary, youthful piece of storytelling that contrasted starkly with big-hitting period pieces like Pride and Prejudice and Middlemarch. Despite distilling the complex structure of the novel into something more narratively straightforward, this adaptation is very faithful to its themes, and the story of young Prentice McHoan’s search for meaning is told with Banks’s dark humour and searching intellect. It made a star of Joe McFadden (for a while), and featured memorable supporting turns from Scottish greats Bill Patterson as Prentice’s dad and Peter Capaldi as his mysteriously disappeared uncle. (PG)

 

The Driver's Seat (1974)

Film adapted from The Driver's Seat by Muriel Spark

Directed by: Giuseppe Patroni Griffi

IMDB rating: 5.7

Element of a poster of The Driver's Seat

In this Psycho in reverse, the female lead seeks her own killer. Filmed in 1974 with Elizabeth Taylor as the enigmatic and self-destructive Lise, this adaptation of Spark’s riskiest novel was greeted with silence on its opening in Cannes, but it’s a film whose time has come. When Lise tells Bill, one of several predators and prospective attackers, 'You look like Red Riding Hood’s Grandmother. Do you want to eat me?' and he replies, 'I’d like to. Unfortunately, I’m on a macrobiotic diet and I can’t eat meat,' we can detect behind the grim humour some dark truths about stalking and sexism. (WM)

 

The Girls of Slender Means (1975)

TV series adapted from  The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark

IMDB rating: 8.3

The 1975 BBC three-part adaptation of Muriel Spark’s 1963 novella was directed by Moira Armstrong and starred Kate Atkinson (author of Behind the Scenes at the Museum and Life After Life), and Miriam Margolyes. Although hard to find now, at the time it was much heralded as a triumph of television drama. The story takes place in 1945 and tracks the members of the May of Teck Club, a club for girls living alone in London in a country emerging from the shadow of WW2. The story gets going when the girls welcome Nicholas Farringdon, handsome anarchist and self-proclaimed genius, to their club. (DS)

 

The Gruffalo (2009)

TV series adapted from The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson / Axel Scheffler

Directed by: Max Lang, Jakob Schuh        

IMDB rating: 7.5

Most parents of toddlers know and give fervent thanks for the hypnotic combination of Julia Donaldson’s tumultuous stories and rhythmic rhymes on young ears, and the perfect complement provided by Axel Scheffler’s bright and characterful drawings. This gorgeous animated version of their most beloved work, with James Corden voicing the intrepid Mouse and Robbie Coltrane the eponymous, much-feared monster, was watched by 9.8 million people on its TV premiere on Christmas Day 2009. A Scots Gaelic version – An Gruffalo – aired a year later, with Bill Paterson in the title role. (HM)

 

The Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency (2008-09)

TV series adapted from The Ladies' No. 1 Detective Agency novels by Alexander McCall Smith

IMDB rating: 8.3

The BBC and HBO teamed up to bring Alexander McCall Smith’s much-loved books to screen in this flagship adaptation. Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Jill Scott took up the role of Mama Ramotswe and Anthony Mingella, Richard Curtis and Harvey Weinstein were all attached to the project. Filmed on location in Botswana, the series only lasted for one season and received a mixed critical response, with one critic dubbing it ‘Heartbeat… relocated to Botswana’. Nevertheless, it's warm-hearted charm makes it worth a winter re-watch. (DS)

 

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)     

Film adapted from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

Directed by: Ronald Neame        

IMDB rating: 7.7

Though the film, based on Jay Presson Allen’s stage play, takes considerable liberties with the content of Muriel Spark’s novel, Maggie Smith remains for many the definitive embodiment of the lofty schoolmistress with the pithy epigrams and the impermeable self-regard. Smith won an Oscar for her performance; her back-up cast here includes her husband Robert Stephens, Gordon Jackson, Celia Johnson, and horror queen Pamela Franklin in an early role as precocious, perceptive schoolgirl Sandy. (HM)

 

The Vital Spark (1959-74)

TV series adapted from Para Handy and Other Tales by Neil Munro

IMDB rating: 8.6

Set in the Western Isles in the 1930s and based on the books by Neil Munro, The Vital Spark is still treasured by all who watched it. Sadly, only some of the episodes remain of "Scotland’s first-ever sitcom," but those that do are well worth seeking out. Of course, fans of Munro’s tales can also enjoy The Tales of Parahandy from the mid-nineties, starring Gregor Fisher and Rikki Fulton. For a quick insight into the original series, watch this 3-minute BBC tribute to the show. (DS)

 

Trainspotting (1995)

Film adapted from Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

Directed by: Danny Boyle

IMDB rating: 8.3

Its frenetic energy, foul mouth and pell-mell energy have been an inspiration to youth-orientated cinema ever since. Its entire main cast stayed stars, its soundtrack is a classic and even its poster concept remains an instantly recognisable touchstone. Few films carry as much cultural baggage and yet transcend their moment with such flair. The sequel is coming next year – and yes, Irvine Welsh will contribute another of his inimitable cameos. (HM)

 

Treasure Island (1950)   

Film adapted from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Directed by: Byron Haskin

IMDB rating: 7.0

In this Disney adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel, young Jim Hawkins (Bobby Driscoll) finds a map that outlines the route to the coveted treasure of the notorious pirate Captain Flint. With an all-male cast on screen for only 96 minutes, this adaptation omits quite a lot from the original Stevenson tale. Nonetheless, it’s an enjoyable, fast-paced, swashbuckling retelling and is captured in glorious technicolour. (MM)

 

Tunes of Glory (1960)

Film adapted from Tunes of Glory by James Kennaway

IMDB rating: 7.7

This is the story of a conflict between two senior officers in the cloistered environment of a Scottish military regiment. Major Jock Sinclair (Alec Guinness) has been the acting Colonel of the Regiment for long time and is admired by all those in his regiment. However, his nose is put out of place when the title of Commanding Officer goes to Colonel Basil Barrow (John Mills), and not him. Director Ronald Neame, who went on to direct The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, captures the conflict, competiveness and, often, admiration between the two characters, perfectly. (MM)

 

Under the Skin (2013)

Film adapted from Under the Skin by Michel Faber

Directed by: Jonathan Glazer

IMDB rating: 6.3

Jonathan Glazer’s hallucinatory adaptation of Michel Faber’s chilling novel deserves to be talked about as one of the finest book-to-film adaptations of the 21st century - Scottish or otherwise. Taking Faber’s novel as inspiration (rather than a verbatim re-telling), Glazer’s film relocates the action from the Highlands to Glasgow during a bleak winter. The city’s streets are seen through the eyes of a human-hunting alien played by Scarlett Johannsson. This adds layers to the alien narrative - a Holywood A-lister driving through Glasgow’s streets in a white transit van interacting, in real-life scenes, with Glaswegian men. Under the Skin is affecting, unsettling art-house filmmaking at its most vivid. You’ll love it or hate it, but you have to watch it - even if it's just for the unforgettable soundtrack from Mica Levi. (DS)

 

Whisky Galore (1949)

Film adapted from Whisky Galore by Compton MacKenzie            

Directed by: Alexander Mackendrick

IMDB rating: 7.3

Based on the 1947 novel by Compton McKenzie, itself inspired by the real-life 1941 wrecking of the SS Politician off the island of Eriskay, this exuberantly boozy island caper helped to define the comedic output of England’s Ealing studios, as well as spoofing in still-piquant style certain clashes between Scottish and English and island and mainland sensibilities. Shooting was on Barra, with a cast including Joan Greenwood, Basil Radford and Gordon Jackson; Compton Mackenzie himself played the role of Captain Buncher. (HM)

 

Wire in the Blood (2002-08)

TV series adapted from the Tony Hill and Carol Jordan novels by Val McDermid

IMDB rating: 8.4              

Wire in the Blood ran from 2002 to 2008 and starred Robson Green as university clinical psychologist, Dr Tony Hill. Hill’s rare ability to tap into his own dark side to get into the twisted minds of serial killers leads him to hitherto impenetrable cases, hunting down killers before they claim another victim. The series, based on Val McDermid’s novels, ran for six seasons, with Hermione Norris playing DCI Carol Jordan from series one to three before Simone Lahbib took the role of DI Alex Fielding in the final three seasons before the show came to an end in 2008. Since then, Val McDermid has penned a further four novels in the series. Surely a return of Dr Tony Hill and DCI Carol Jordan to the small screen is overdue? (DS)

 

Young Adam (2003)

Film adapted from Young Adam by Alexander Trocchi

Directed by: David Mackenzie    

IMDB rating: 6.5

Starring a trio of Scotland’s best-known big screen stars (Ewan McGregor, Tilda Swinton and Peter Mullan), David Mackenzie’s dark and moody adaptation of Alexander Trocchi’s cult novel is  slow-burner that builds to a gripping conclusion. Mackenzie’s second film, Young Adam confirmed his unerring ability to powerfully convey a sense of place, demonstrated again to great effect in his most recent film, Hell or High Water. Here Glasgow’s foreboding canals, and the claustrophobia of life on a barge, are vividly realised in a striking visual parallel to the story’s murky moral byways. (PG)

 

The Panel 

Hannah McGill: Hannah McGill is a writer, arts critic and broadcaster based in Edinburgh. She is a former Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Follow her on Twitter @HannahJMcGill.

Paul Gallagher: Paul is the Marketing Manager at Glasgow Film, encompassing Glasgow Film Theatre and Glasgow Film Festival. Beginning as a single screen cinema over 40 years ago, GFT has become Scotland’s most diverse and best publicly attended independent cinema in Scotland, with Glasgow Film Festival one of the top three film festivals in the UK, heading towards its 13th edition on 15-26 Feb 2017. Follow him on Twitter @paulcgallagher. Follow the GFT @GlasgowFilm.

Prof. Willy Maley: Willy Maley has published widely on Scottish literature and culture, including studies of Alasdair Gray, Janice Galloway, James Kelman, Muriel Spark and Irvine Welsh. In 2005 he edited The List Guide to the 100 Best Scottish Books of All Time with support from Scottish Book Trust. As a playwright, Willy is also a former Fringe First winner and has had work performed at the Arches, Pavilion, Tramway and Tron theatres.

Gow Gibson: Gow is a general manager at G1 Group PLC - owners of the Perth Playhouse, Grosvenor Cinema and other cultural venues across Scotland. Gow's previous roles include positions at Park Circus Ltd and Walt Disney.

Further Contributions: The panel's chair was Danny Scott / @ASimpleDan (author, film writer at The Skinny, and digital marketing manager at Scottish Book Trust), with further contributions made by Miriam Morris / @MaudsGone (film buff, press officer at Scottish Book Trust). 

 

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