Knife in the Water (1962)
"Nóz w wodzie" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  28 October 1963 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 14,115 users  
Reviews: 84 user | 75 critic

On their way to a sailing trip, an aging husband and wife invite along an emphatic young hitchhiker out of sheer patronization.


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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Leon Niemczyk ...
Young Man


Well off Andrzej and Krystyna's marriage is at a stage where familiarity breeds contempt, that contempt which is outwardly shown only behind closed doors and only when an incident of some sort sets off one or the other. While driving through the countryside on a Sunday on their way to the lake to embark on an overnight sailing excursion, they almost run over a young male hitchhiker. Despite the antagonism between Andrzej and the hitchhiker, Andrzej offers him a ride as far as the marina. By the time they reach the lake, their antagonism has dissipated enough that Andrzej asks if he would like to join them on their sailing trip. The hitchhiker accepts despite knowing nothing about sailing. As the sailing trip progresses, the antagonism between the two men begins to increase again, fueled on both sides as each strives to be the alpha male. Andrzej needs to show his superiority, while the hitchhiker needs to show that his young age and inexperience, not only with sailing but with life in... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | Thriller


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

28 October 1963 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Knife in the Water  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Initially, Polanski wanted to make a criminal story about a couple which takes a young hitchhiker to a boat trip, and at the end the boy dies in mysterious circumstances. In his version the trip was about a week long a involved some other characters. It was Jerzy Skolimowski who proposed to shorten it to one day and limit the number of characters. The final script was created in only three, four days by Polanski, Skolimowski and Jakub Goldberg in Polanski's apartment. While writing the script they were playing the dialogue, changing the roles all the time. See more »


At the end of the movie when Andrzej and Krystyna are driving away from the harbor, the boats in the background change between shots. See more »


[first lines]
Andrzej: [sees the boy for the first time] Hitching at this hour.
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Referenced in The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

Polanski's film has artistic integrity...

In Polanski's feature debut, "Knife in the Water," strange power games were again to the fore, with ridiculous macho rivalries arising when a young looking man hitches a lift with a sportswriter and his attractive wife… Though the plot itself is slim, the film is distinguished by Polanski's precise visuals, which point the shifts in allegiance between the three characters through subtle groupings; impressively, although almost the whole film is situated on a small yacht, the effect is always cinematic rather than theatrical…

Polanski's film is implicit, ingenious, mesmerizing, and has artistic integrity… It is filled with a very different sort of suspense… There is no violence… The suspense is hinted at, suggested, refined tautly, glimpsed, did-he-mean-what-I-think-he-meant?

The rich man's confidence was in his possessions, among which was numbered his attractive wife, lying in bikini, teasing by arousing expectations between them on the deck… The student's confidence, casual, almost unaware, was in his very being... The husband resented the youth, the strength, the "cool," the easy virility of the student and worked out a compulsion to keep challenging them, to try to show his superiority…

Polanski was fair – each had his own strengths and skills; but the one obsessively resented the others…

72 of 81 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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