Knack… and How to Get It, The (1965)

“If you ask me, they’re a new breed of characters altogether…”

Knack Poster

Synopsis:
An insecure teacher (Michael Crawford) who desires his womanizing tenant’s (Ray Brooks) “knack” with women thinks getting a bigger bed might help his luck; while at the dump with his new housemate (Donal Donnelly), he meets a naive young girl from the country (Rita Tushingham), who Brooks immediately puts the moves on — with unexpected consequences.

Genres:

Review:
In between his two feature hits with The Beatles (A Hard Day’s Night and Help!), Richard Lester helmed this dated, irritating sex farce, based on a 1962 play by Ann Jellicoe. Michael Crawford (future star of “Phantom of the Opera”) is annoyingly high-strung as the film’s simpering protagonist, and the script isn’t any better: the sexual double-entendres (Crawford is convinced his “bed” is too small) are juvenile at best, while Lester’s humorous treatment of imagined rape in the final section of the film is extremely discomfiting. Only the appealing Tushingham — with her thickly-lined eyes and gapped teeth — and zany non-conformist Donnelly (a refreshingly nonsexualized counterpoint to Crawford and Brooks) make the story bearable. The Knack… is primarily known today for showcasing Lester’s unique cinematic style — including faux fantasy sequences, over-dubbing, jump-cut editing, and zany slapstick — but these innovations ultimately come across as tedious rather than energizing; you’re better off (re)watching A Hard Day’s Night instead.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Rita Tushingham as Nancy
    Knack Rita Tushingham
  • Tushingham, Crawford, and Donnelly shamelessly rolling a bed across the streets of London
    Bed Knack

Must See?
No. While it holds historical importance as winner of the Golden Palm at Cannes, this tedious comedy is best avoided altogether.

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One Response to “Knack… and How to Get It, The (1965)”

  1. Not at all a must; in complete agreement with the assessment, except for one thing: tho both Tushingham and Donnelly have interesting qualities, they used them more to their advantage elsewhere; neither of them can make this mind-numbing tedium “bearable”.

    I will give the film this: the opening fantasy sequence during the credits – countless women in white waiting in line to enter Brooks’ bedroom – is clever and completely milked. It’s almost like watching Michelangelo Antonioni (an art-house favorite at the time) realizing his comic potential.

    From there, it’s a

    n
    o
    s
    e
    d
    i
    v
    e.

    I know I saw the whole thing years ago. I made it halfway this time and decided to spare myself the misery of continuing. Winner of the Golden Palm at Cannes?! Words fail me.

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