The Knack...And How to Get It (1965)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Absurd Comedy, Farce, Romantic Comedy, Sex Comedy  |   Release Date - Jun 29, 1965 (USA)  |   Run Time - 84 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Josh Ralske

Richard Lester's The Knack. . .and How to Get It is thought by many to be a classic black-and-white comedy of sexual mores in swinging 60s London, but the film's value as more than a relic of its time is lessened by its frequently stagy dialogue and lighthearted view of sexual assault. Playfully ripping off everyone from Buster Keaton to Jean-Luc Godard, Lester uses the same offhand, non sequitur humor, jump cutting, and sight gags that made his Beatles film, A Hard Day's Night, such a joy. But while they all have their moments, Michael Crawford, Rita Tushingham, Ray Brooks, and Donal Donnelly are not the Beatles, and only Donnelly, given many of the script's funniest lines, approaches their realm of impudent charm. Lester's use of the voices of older Londoners as a kind of "square" Greek chorus is a hackneyed and sometimes irritating device. There are some funny moments in the film, but a lot of the humor is rooted in obvious Benny Hill-style double entendres (such as Colin's (Crawford) repeated whining about the size of his "bed"). The last third of the film, through which Tushingham runs through London, repeatedly (and wrongfully) crying "rape" was obviously meant to be irreverent, shocking, and funny. Nowadays, it's just discomfiting. The Knack is very watchable as a product of its times, but it doesn't deserve its reputation as a classic of the British cinema.