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Directed by Melvin Frank + Norman Panama
USA
1954

 

The film casts Danny Kaye as a neurotic American ventriloquist performing in Europe. In a parody of the 1946 thriller Dead of Night, Kaye is unable to control the words coming out of his dummy, resulting in a near-nervous breakdown. His manager and best friend (David Burns) orders him to see a famous psychiatrist in Zurich. What follows is a zany adventure involving secret weapons, international spies and the beautiful Mai Zetterling. This classic Danny Kaye comedy was written, produced and directed by the great team of Norman Panama and Melvin Frank (The Court Jester).

****

That bit in the pub, with him staggering among a chorus of lush Hibernians and bawling his long-bowsprited head off to a song called "Monahan O'Han" is a darling exercise in high-class kidding; and the way he demonstrates a low-slung car with a mess of mechanical accessories is top-quality sight-gag burlesque, considering the combination with it of his parody of a Britisher's poise.

But the purely fortuitous tangle of the fleeing ventriloquist with the ballet in an item full of Slavic turmoil finds Mr. Kaye at his best. Costumed in droopy drawers and fur cap to look like a scarecrow of the steppes and shivering with fear and desperation in the spotlight's piercing glare, he does a hilarious routine of fumbling and faking a dance. It is farce on the old Chaplin level—deliberately, satirically grotesque. Diana Adams as a ballerina plays straight to it beautifully.

Naturally, all is not brilliance in this pleasantly Technicolored film. The authors-directors-producers take a long time to get it off the ground. For a while, it appears they were undecided whether to make it a comedy-romance about a neurotic dummy-jockey and a lady psychiatrist. And in this phase of the picture, the going is rather slow, despite the refined cooperation of Mai Zeitterling, a lovely young Swedish actress who is making her debut in American films.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: April 6th, 1954

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Comparison:

Olive Films - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Olive Films - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Olive Films- Region 1 - NTSC LEFT
2) Olive Film - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT
 
Box Covers

Distribution Olive Films - Region 1 - NTSC Olive Films - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:43:48  1:43:50.224 
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.46 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s   
1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 20,527,442,217 bytes

Feature: 20,331,546,624 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 23.97 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0)  DTS-HD Master Audio English 860 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 860 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
Subtitles None None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Olive Films

Aspect Ratio:
1.78;1
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• none 

DVD Release Date: September 28th, 2010

Keep Case
Chapters: 8

Release Information:
Studio: Olive Films

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 20,527,442,217 bytes

Feature: 20,331,546,624 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 23.97 Mbps

Edition Details:

• none

Blu-ray Release Date: August 20th, 201
3
Standard Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 8

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Olive Films - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - August 13': The same print is used - same marks (see bottom of review) and color anomalies - but it is brighter and looks cleaner to me. The 1080P shows a shade more information and is smoother with less noise. On my system I can notice an upgrade but toggling back and forth I wouldn't say it was dramatic. But the lossless sound is notable in the musical numbers - still authentically flat but with a touch of depth. Still no subtitles or extras but a super fun film.

***

ON THE DVD: Olive Films is handling another 50`s Paramount release. This appears to be a continuing trend - I enjoyed the three Noir films they released - Appointment With Danger, William Dieterle's Dark City and Rudolph Mate's Union Station as well as the enjoyable Hammer-esque sci-fi Crack in the World from the mid 60`s.

Like previous Olive Film DVDs this is both dual-layered, progressive and bare-bones. Knock on Wood is anamorphically transferred in the original 1.85 aspect ratio (actually 4% cropped for widescreen at 1.78). It looks grainy with some noise and there is some minor dirt showing. I had an unexplainable anomaly occur with, usually rectangular, blue flashes appearing (you can see less prominent examples in the 6th and 7th captures below). Being almost exclusively frame specific they weren't overly noticeable and I can't be sure they aren't solely on my DVD screener disc - but I have contacted Olive Films and informed them - so I would expect if it was a strange transfer defect it will be resolved before public release. I did obtain and post two samples of light scratches at the bottom of this review.  

The unremarkable audio is flat mono but everything is consistent and dialogue clear. As stated there are no extras - not even a trailer or any subtitles.

Like most film fans I love the talented Danny Kaye. I frequently revisit The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - which is a favorite. I have never had the opportunity to see Knock on Wood before and it is similarly fabulous fun. He truly is a pioneer as a everyman clown in the vein of Dick van Dyke and, much later, Jim Carrey. Aside from the blue-flash anomaly the transfer is strong but there are no extras. If you are keen on the film you may find solid value in the enjoyable presentation - which, I believe, has never been offered on disc before.    

Gary W. Tooze

 


Menus

1) Olive Films- Region 1 - NTSC LEFT
2) Olive Film - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT


 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Olive Films- Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Olive Films- Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Olive Films- Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Olive Films- Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Olive Films- Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

1) Olive Films- Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

1) Olive Films- Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Olive Films- Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 

Damage

 

1) Olive Films- Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 
1) Olive Films- Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Olive Film - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Box Covers

Distribution Olive Films - Region 1 - NTSC Olive Films - Region 'A' - Blu-ray



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