#268 The Knack… And How to Get It

Watched: April 24 2020

Director: Richard Lester

Starring: Rita Tushingham, Ray Brooks, Michael Crawford, Donal Donnelly

Year: 1965

Runtime: 1h 25min

First off, we do apologize for the sporadic posting – it’s partly to stall for time until we can get our hands on the next movies on the list (apparently, some are on their way!), but also partly because working from home actually turned out to be more time consuming than going into work, so we’re sort of a bit swamped… We will do our best though, and hope you all can be patient with us in these strange times.

Now, for The Knack… And How to Get It.

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Basically, an incel (Crawford) and a sleezy philanderer (and potential rapist) (Brooks) live in the same building, the former being driven a bit cray-cray by the latter’s long line of conquests. And also by the young girls in the school he works in who play netball in short skirts. The harlots!

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Philanderer sure has a type. And a sweet ride and a sweet tie. But nothing else to recommend him. Well, maybe the cool hair.

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Things change when artist Tom (Donnelly) moves into their spare room, and Female Character/Object Nancy (Tushingham) arrives in town. Tom and Colin (incel-dude) meet Nancy while she’s looking for the YWCA and bring her home to be victimized by Tolan (rapey-dude). However, after some really weird stuff goes down, she decides she’s attracted to Colin instead.

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Personally, we would have left them all way behind! Well, Tom seems sort of alright. Apart from his obsession with painting everything white. OK, you have a problem with brown, but white??? You can do better, Tom!

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Don’t get us wrong, there were things about this which we liked. The bed moving sequence is epic, we loved all the gags with doors opening and closing, and we really enjoyed to pace of the dialogue and the Greek choir of judgy people in the background commenting on everything that happened.

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Very Jules et Jim, with hints of Bande À Part

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We also kind of have a little sort of girl crush on Rita Tushingham. But we were a bit let down by her character. When she was first introduced, we thought she might be at least slightly sharp – the way she saw through the shop clerk and mocked his insincere flattery. However, once she started actually falling for Tolan’s crap even after she was CLEARLY very uncomfortable with his attention, we gave up. She wasn’t a person after all.

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And we had such high hopes for you and your crazy eyes!

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That being said, the scene with them in the white room was very good, if only because the interaction between Nancy and Tolan was so very, very uncomfortable and rapey. Not that Colin is much better. Tolan and Colin are just misogynistic in different ways – none of them seemed to see women as people, just objects to be desired and earned.

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Note to all: this is not the expression of someone who enjoys your attention. And if that’s not evident, you might want to work on your people skills.

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Overall, this gave the impression of being set in some weird fantasy world, the rules of which we were not informed. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing – we tend to enjoy being thrown into those worlds. It’s just that this one didn’t engage us. There are good gags and a good pace, but otherwise this struck us as a bit rapey, incely, and dated. Is it possible we misread it? Of course! But we’re still not sold…

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Lots of good gags involving doors (or lack thereof) though.

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What we learned: Mods and rockers. Also, why don’t “friends” call douches like Tolan on their crap??? “No one is raped unless they want it” my ass!

Next time: Batman (1966) if the postal gods are merciful. Or possibly a bonus: Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (1965). Time (and the postal service) will tell.

#204 A Taste of Honey

Watched: October 30 2018

Director: Tony Richardson

Starring: Rita Tushingham, Dora Bryan, Murray Melvin, Robert Stephens, Paul Danquah

Year: 1961

Runtime: 1h 41min

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Jo (Tushingham) is an artistic sixteen-year old girl who’s neglected by her mother Helen (Bryan) and tired of the way her life is going. Following the girl’s short romance with black sailor Jimmy (Danquah), Jo is kicked out from her home when her mother marries a disaster of a man, Peter (Stephens).

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Strangely, it wasn’t the affair that dissuaded Peter from taking her on as his new daughter. It was her resting-weird-face which freaked him out.

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Jo moves out, gets a flat and a job in a shoe shop, as well as a new gay best friend in Geoff (Melvin). In short, she’s pretty much living the outcast girl’s dream. There’s one problem though – her romance with Jimmy left her pregnant.

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No inexperienced teenager would have stood a chance with this guy…

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Like Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, A Taste of Honey was familiar to the extremely sophisticated Sister the Oldest from her literature studies, but only in writing. The film version of Shelagh Delaney’s play was no disappointment and we both enjoyed it a lot.

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On the question of favourite character we’re torn between both these two

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We can imagine that this one would have been at least a tiny bit controversial upon release with its depictions of sexuality (both young girls and homosexuals should keep that to themselves, thank-you-very-much!), interracial relationships and horrible parenting.

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Helen may look caring and worried, but only as long as Jo’s needs don’t interfere  with her own

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Despite the somewhat bleak subject matter, A Taste of Honey is not as depressing as it could easily have become. The dialogue is funny and witty, and the characters are interesting – especially the women and Geoff.

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Peter’s just your run-of-the-mill misogynist bastard though

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We loved Jo – she’s awkward, insolent, insecure, independent, stubborn, sharp and fabulous, partly thanks to Tushingham’s performance. This movie is a great little slice of kitchen sink drama with a fantastic cast and a strange but interesting peep show scene set in Blackpool. Not sure why we point that out that in particular, but it seemed worth mentioning. Definitely recommended.

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What we learned: Life doesn’t always go the way you plan it. And sometimes you make the same mistakes as your mother.

Next time: Lola (1961)