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You get Frank Spencer and Mr Benn for your money!
on 28 July 2011
That it was originally a play (by Ann Jellicoe) is obvious from the way some of the dialogue is presented, that it is a 60s romp is also very quickly established. It is incredibly similar to Lesters 'Hard Days Night' in its lack of genre, mix of madcap and apparently pointless dialogue/ monologues. I prefer it to Hard Days Night, probably because as much as I loved The Beatles actors they were not.
The plot, such as it is, is about the Brooks character (a seductive lounge lizard of the highest order) teaching the Crawford character how to get The Knack. The Knack is of course how to have sex with a LOT of women, and this is illustrated ad nauseam, beginning with a scene in the house where an endless stream of nubile and identically dressed young women are hanging about everywhere for the privilege of being chosen by the total sleazebag. Brooks is extremely well cast in this role as he is very good looking, but his voice is the real clincher - I can see why women would have had a problem saying no! But seriously, for any person who has a scrap of awareness it does come across as manipulative to the point of pathology, and the scene where Tushinghams character goes around saying 'rape' illustrates for me what happened with men and women in this world. My interpretation is that it is about the regret of consent, realising that you have been 'played' and if you had known his genuine intentions beforehand you would never have said yes. Therefore it is not that that scene makes light of rape as such, it is simply that whilst it cannot be technically or legally held as rape a woman can feel she has been raped when after she is thrown out with the rubbish.
I feel that this serious point is lost, inevitably, as the film is a madcap 60s romp. There is also some fairly pretentious (and dull) twaddle in the dialogue (eg in the Tom characters white room) which does make this an odd mongrel of a film - no real plot, no linear progression of anyone or anything. It is not so intentionally funny as to be called a comedy, and it is definitely not a drama. I do like this film, and will be buying a R2 as I only have a R1 copy, but my favourite 60s film coming from the same culture and time is Georgy girl, a very different animal.