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Knock on Wood (1954)

Approved | | Comedy | July 1954 (USA)
Ventriloquist Jerry Morgan has to see another love affair fail. The reason: when the relationship reaches the point when it is time to discuss marriage, his doll Clarence becomes mean and ... See full summary »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jerry Morgan / Papa Morgan / Clarence
Dr. Ilse Nordstrom
Godfrey Langston
David Burns ...
Marty Brown
Laslo Gromeck
Maurice Papinek
Car Salesman
Dr. Kreuger
Diana Adams ...
Princess Maya
Patricia Denise ...
Mama Morgan
Audrey Greene
Paul England ...
Chief Inspector Wilton
Johnstone White ...
Langston's Secretary
Second Trenchcoat Man


Ventriloquist Jerry Morgan has to see another love affair fail. The reason: when the relationship reaches the point when it is time to discuss marriage, his doll Clarence becomes mean and jealous. His fiancée Audrey leaves him and Jerry smashes his two dolls, Clarence and Terrence. Morgan's doll maker Papinek is a member of a spy ring who has stolen secret plans to the top secret Lafayette airplane. Since Morgan is leaving for Zurich the same night, Papinek decides to use Morgan's dolls as a mailbox and hides the secret plans in the heads of the dolls. Another secret spy ring also wants to get their hands on Jerry's luggage and they *also* follow him. Eventually, Jerry is chased by both these organizations as well as the police, who suspects him of murder. Written by Mattias Thuresson

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The No. 1 Song-and-Dance Clown at his best!




Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

July 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Agárrame si puedes  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Although set in London, the film was mostly made on Hollywood studio sets. However, a second unit was sent to London to film backgrounds, and in these scenes a double was used for Danny Kaye, mostly filmed from behind or from a distance. The double was in fact a well-known British actor and comedian, Jon Pertwee. This may account for the fact that a character called "Sir Pertwee" appears in Kaye's subsequent film The Court Jester (1955), also made by the team of Melvin Frank and Norman Panama. See more »


Supposedly set in England, all of the cars on the streets of London are left-hand drive. See more »


[as the stage show's end, the ventriloquist's dummy asserts itself]
Jerry Morgan: [speaking of his fiancee] Really, folks, she's a beautiful, wonderful girl. I wish you could see her.
Clarence: Yeah, you should see her. A blonde, blue-eyed, baby-faced purse-snatcher.
Jerry Morgan: Clarence!
Clarence: A peroxide octopus.
Jerry Morgan: Quiet!
Clarence: Fifteen hands and they're all in his pockets.
Jerry Morgan: Clarence! Please!
Clarence: A hundred and ten pounds of well-stacked rattlesnakes!
Jerry Morgan: Clarence!
See more »


Featured in 100 Years of Comedy (1997) See more »


All About You
(1953) (uncredited)
Written by Sylvia Fine
Sung by Danny Kaye and danced by him and Mai Zetterling
See more »

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User Reviews

Two Dummies or Three
21 February 2013 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

The story of the ventriloquist's dummy who develops a personality all its own has been used any number of times. Two times when it was used seriously the ventriloquists were Cliff Robertson on the Twilight Zone and Michael Redgrave in Dead Of Night. But Danny Kaye managed to use it for laughs in Knock On Wood.

Every time Kaye gets close to a girl to start talking seriously of marriage, his second persona through the dummy takes over and cooks the deal for good. Kaye's agent David Burns suggests some consultation with a psychiatrist Steven Geray. And then Geray consults a consultant and the consultant psychiatrist turns out to be Mai Zetterling.

That's how romances start with comics, especially movie comics. But even Zetterling is ready to commit him when all kind of strange things happen. Two parts of the design of a secret weapon get hidden both of Kaye's dummies Clarence and Terrence. And two different sets of spies get a hold of the parts. One is held by Leon Askin and the second held by international man of mystery Torin Thatcher.

Things start happening around Kaye that he and no one else can explain so it's not unnatural for mental health professionals to think he's off his rocker. But so does law enforcement in several countries.

Knock On Wood is not as good as so many of Kaye's films, still his fans should like it. Best is the ballet sequences where in trying to elude the police who want him for a homicide and the spies who just want him dead, Danny fouls up a ballet that his former girlfriend is starring in. What a way to put a coda on a breakup.

Of course Danny was to reach the height of his career with his next two films White Christmas and The Court Jester. Knock On Wood is good, but just an interlude in Danny's career.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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