The Knack ...and How to Get It

The Knack …and How to Get It

Theatrical poster
Directed by Richard Lester
Produced by Oscar Lewenstein
Written by Charles Wood
Starring Rita Tushingham
Ray Brooks
Michael Crawford
Donal Donnelly
Music by John Barry
Cinematography David Watkin
Edited by Antony Gibbs
Distributed by United Artists Corporation
Release dates
3 June 1965 (1965-06-03)
Running time
85 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $364,000[1][2]
Box office $2.5 million (US)[1]

The Knack …and How to Get It is a 1965 British comedy film directed by Richard Lester based on the play by Ann Jellicoe. It won the Palme d'Or at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival[3] and was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival. It received the Grand Prix of the Belgian Film Critics Association.


The film depicts the sexual competition among three roommates — the aggressive, womanizing drummer Tolen (Ray Brooks), the shy, paranoid schoolteacher Colin (Michael Crawford), and the artist Tom (Donal Donnelly) — when a young woman from out of town, Nancy (Rita Tushingham), enters their London world.


History and reputation

Making the film immediately after working with The Beatles on A Hard Day's Night and just before Help!, Lester made major changes to the play, adding his own touch through direct address, unexpected oddly-edited sequences, humorous subtitles, and a Greek chorus of disapproving members of "the older generation." Talking about the film in the 1980s, actor Ray Brooks said:

He’s a very visual man...They reckon that you could take any frame from Help, The Knack, and A Hard Day’s Night and you could put it on the cover of Time/Life. Everything was so beautifully shot."[4]

Lester himself makes a brief cameo as an annoyed bystander. John Barry contributed the jazzy score, which features a memorable organ solo by Alan Haven. Jane Birkin, Charlotte Rampling, and Jacqueline Bisset all made their first cinematic appearances in the film as extras, together with Top of the Pops disc girl Samantha Juste.


  1. 1 2 Michael Deeley, Blade Runners, Deer Hunters and Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: My Life in Cult Movies, Pegasus Books, 2009 p 31
  2. Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p. 245
  3. "Festival de Cannes: The Knack …and How to Get It". Retrieved 2009-03-04.
  4. Ray Brooks interview by Chris Hunt
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