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The Knack… and How to Get It – 1965 Lester
- I forget Richard Lester is from Philly— between this here, The Knack… and How to Get It, and A Hard Day’s Night from the year before- the most 1960’s swinging-London films of all-time (along with maybe Blow-Up– also made by a non-British director).
- The knack is really “mojo”- or sex
- Filled with playful visual gags, great imagery (the women all in white sweaters on the stairwell waiting to audition, the painted white room), an active camera, thoughtful editing (low average shot length, freeze frame work, jump cuts)
- Jazzy score by the great John Barry (Bond movies, Out of Africa, Dances With Wolves)
- I do think the narrative probably influenced 1967’s Bedazzled. Another British sex comedy with the suave mentor and virgin mentee trying to get women
- Lester is very inventive- comically obvious English subtitles (in an English language film), repeating certain sequences, fast motion photography, reverse photography
- Certainly influenced by the French New Wave- that sort of ironic friskiness – Schlesinger’s Darling feels like a cousin (also from 1965)
- It isn’t just the visual gags—there is creativity in the sound design. In one scene the line goes “when the bomb drops” and we get a cut to a cracking egg (with the sound of the bomb getting dropped continuing). You also get a busy layer (matching the visuals) in the sound design of the older generation sometimes seen (in what seems like doc footage of them on the streets in interviews) and sometimes unseen. They are criticizing the youth. You even get an older lady saying “I never breaststroked before I went to sea”- haha.
- Silent comedy sketches like a cat and mouse chase that has been parodied by like Austin Powers
- Pitch black ongoing rape joke
- Jacqueline Bisset in her debut in a cameo, and Charlotte Rampling here as well in her second film, another cameo after appearing in A Hard Day’s Night from Lester the year before
- The girl from Doctor Zhivago (in the same year Rita Tushingham who plays the daughter of Christie and Sharif) and the guy from Hello, Dolly! (Michael Crawford)
- Flawed- this isn’t a perfect film- Lester is throwing the kitchen sink out there stylistically to see what sticks. But I’ll forgive the clutter for the utter resourcefulness on display
- Recommend but not in the top 10 of 1965