I Saw a Film

Here’s one of those films that I always find charming at the outset. A pair of young British lads, one a lady-killer, the other a pitiable, clumsy, loveless mug reside in a claustrophobic tri-level apartment complex where the ladies line up on the stairs to get a throw with suave Tolen. The roommate laments his awful luck with the ladies and herein lies the familiar theme, how to get our doofus a girlfriend?

Soon enough, a young lady arrives looking for a room. She quickly takes her place as the somewhat bizarre lass called Nancy, who, after a few amusing hijinx, including a sequence obviously lifted by the later Monkees TV show of a four-poster bed rolled through city streets, suddenly starts crying “Rape!” for about twenty minutes of the movie. It’s hard to imagine what the filmmakers were after with this extended odd joke as it doesn’t age well. At first I thought she was just establishing a proper space, and at one point, as if to emphasize this effort the fellows are literally projected moving backwards. But Rape! she continues to yell, on pounded doors, and up and down streets to the entire world’s bafflement. This sequence ends with the young lady in Tolen’s bedroom stripping and tossing records out windows. The fellows are then convinced she actually wants some congress, but when Nancy emerges from the room, she’s more interested in our luckless dork, Colin. Incomprehensible at best.

The film was directed by the Beatles’ A Hard Days Night director and The Knack was apparently a stage play first. These films, consider Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, and Tall Story, as well as countless others, are generally meant to play on sweet naivete while being titillating for the more adult of us trying to persevere through the romance. Generally, I find the things either too sweet (Dobie Gillis direct to marriage obsessiveness), or in place of actual sexuality something that comes across as mentally unstable—in this instance the entire “rape” yelling sequence, which is akin to the clumsy beauty trope used in countless Bollywood stories as well as Tall Story, and several Barbara Streisand cuteness exercises a couple of years later. The silliness is confusing and forces one to wonder what actual romantic interest would look like, in these films it occurs as a sort of immature obsession leading to stalking and other largely pathetic behaviors. Though, when two people do connect almost anything goes. The rough part is when connection doesn’t happen, the behaviors are embarrassing at minimum, criminal at worst.

And so give it a try, once again on prime for 4 bucks, and it’s at least interesting for a few well done jokes about Tolen’s skills and the incredible fashions.

One thought on “The Knack . . . and how to get it (1965)

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