Knock On Wood (1954)

MELVIN FRANK, NORMAN PANAMA

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB

USA, 1954Screenplay by , Cinematography by Produced by Melvin Frank, Norman Panama.  Music by Production Design by , Costume Design by Film Editing by Academy Awards 1954

explodes with exuberant fun in this silly comedy of errors with tinges of Cold War intrigue. He plays a ventriloquist with commitment issues who can never close the deal with a woman he’s in love with: any time he gets close to truly declaring his love for a lady, his obsession with communicating through his dummy takes over and he uses it to expresses his fear in the form of insults.  His manager suggests he go to Switzerland for some much needed rest and mental therapy and he does, completely unaware that he’s carrying precious cargo with him: the artisan who repairs Kaye’s dummies is also part of an underground spy network stealing secrets from western governments for nefarious eastern men, and has hidden the stolen plans for a doomsday weapon in the heads of our hero’s two dolls. When Kaye arrives in Zurich, he is at once being treated by a beautiful psychiatrist () that he can’t stop sexually harassing, while unbeknownst to him also narrowly escaping death at the hands of some very dangerous bad guys. All the elements are blended beautifully in this hilarious adventure, treating the villains as actual heavies while allowing the frothy bits of romance and fun to really fly high.  A running gag involving a misunderstanding of the name “Gromeck” is just one of the very funny jokes in this work of absolute delight.

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