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Restless Natives (1985)

Young Edinburgh lads Will (Vincent Friell) and Ronnie (Joe Mullaney) are perpetually down on their luck – Ronnie works in a joke shop and lives in a bedsit with his pet hamster while Will – who still lives with his parents – is (briefly) a corporation street sweeper. But they both dream of bigger things.

Deciding that the only way to make any serious money is to steal it, and – since tourism is the mainstay of the local economy – they hit on the idea of holding up tourist coaches loaded with wealthy Americans.

Armed with toy guns from the joke shop (loaded with sneezing powder, curry powder and athletes foot powder) and wearing clown and werewolf masks, they rob the coaches in remote areas of the Scottish Highlands and make their getaway on Ronnie’s Suzuki motorbike.

Several buses later, the pair of inept but charming highwaymen have become national heroes with a knock-on effect to Scotland’s tourist industry as floods of American tourists are flocking to coach trips in the hope of being robbed by the friendly masked folk heroes.

While the local police stick pins in a map and seem completely unable to catch the bandits, a vacationing agent from the Central Intelligence Bureau of America (Ned Beatty) becomes involved when he is robbed on one of the coaches – hurting his macho pride – and makes it his personal crusade to apprehend them.

Meanwhile, Will falls for pretty tour guide Margot (Teri Lally) and confesses all to her, while Will’s father (Bernard Hill of Boys From The Blackstuff fame) wishes his feckless son showed some of the bandits’ enterprise and only Will’s obnoxious younger sister – and all her pals – guesses his true identity.

Restless Natives features some of the most magnificent Highland scenery, beautifully shot and accompanied by a stirring original soundtrack by Big Country whose unique brand of guitar-driven Celtic rock is perfect for this film.

Watch out for a guest appearance by the late great Mel Smith as an East End gangster mentoring the hapless Ronnie, and advising him on the lucrative life of crime that potentially awaits.

Vincent Friell
Joe Mullaney
Teri Lally
Ned Beatty
Robert Urquhart
Will’s Father
Bernard Hill
Will’s Mother
Ann Scott-Jones
Rachel Boyd
Iain McColl
Mel Smith
Dave Anderson
Mary Harrison
Laura Smith
Angus Paterson
Robin Brown
Mrs Paterson
Irene Sunters

Michael Hoffman