Knock on Wood (1954)

Academy Awards

Nominated for an Oscar for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay (Norman Panama and Melvin Frank)

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Movie Trivia

This is the first film produced by Dena Productions, Danny and Sylvia's production company. As a result, Danny was his own producer and was able to give himself a lot of leeway with ad-libs, though I am unsure how many ad-libs remained in the film or what they may be. This film was also an attempt to let Danny's personality filter through the movie, unlike many of his pervious films with other studios. Perhaps it was only because I knew that bit of information ahead of time, but watching the movie, I felt I could sense that personality, as opposed to many of his other roles. In any case, Knock on Wood was a well-received film. Kurt Singer, author of The Danny Kaye Story, considered it the funniest of Danny's movies, even above that of The Court Jester. Martin Gottfried, author of Nobody's Fool, on the other hand, thought this movie was mediocre at best.
I, for one, loved this movie! It was written, directed, and produced by the same people responsible for
The Court Jester, Norman Panama and Melvin Frank. While I don't think any film can top The Court Jester, Knock on Wood is certainly a hilarious movie with an interesting plot. Danny Kaye and David Burns carry some brilliantly funny dialogues. And Danny's romance with Mai Zetterling's character is a serious one, more so than the earlier Goldwyn films ever brought across. For instance, there's a wonderful, slow dance between them as Danny sings a soft, romantic song. This movie is full of wonderful scenes: the plane ride where Danny's character tries to prevent his friend from getting airsick, groggily walking into the hotel room of Mai Zetterling's character by mistake, ending up in the woman's shower room...again by mistake, pretending to be a car salesman, singing with a group of Irishmen in a bar, and winding up in a ballet dance while trying to escape the police.

Film Information

Filmed: June 1 - July 10, July 20, Aug. 12-19, Aug. 24, Nov. 14, 1953

Released: April 14, 1954
(Koenig, David.
Danny Kaye: King of Jesters, pg 160)

Filmed in England

First movie produced by Dena Productions, the company formed by Danny and Sylvia along with the help of Norman Panama and Melvin Frank

Because this film was produced by Danny and Sylvia’s production company, Danny was given more freedom with ad-libs and his screen-presence

“[...] For the first time in my career I can be pretty much myself on the screen and can get the real Kaye personality over. I’ve always liked personal appearances, such as my vaudeville act, better than movie-making , because on the theater stage I can be spontaneous while producers have always made me stick to the script in movies. But in Knock on Wood I’m my own producer and I let my own ad libs stay in the film.” (The Danny Kaye Story pg 195)


“Knock on Wood, Kaye Says, Entombment Over” - article written by Danny about his movies and television; Sept. 1954

“Injuries Often Bench Film Stars Who Try Too Hard for Realism” - brief section from an article about Danny’s injuries from Up in Arms and Knock on Wood; Mar. 1954

“Zany Actor, Danny Kaye, Back Again” - interview with Norman Panama and Melvin Frank regarding Knock on Wood; Aug. 1953

“Hollywood Happenings” - brief article about a complicated line of dialogue from Knock on Wood; May 1953

“Kaye’s Next By Unique Duo That Operates Three Ways” - article about Norman Panama and Melvin Frank regarding Knock on Wood; Apr. 1953

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