Knife in the Water (1962)

Knife in the Water (1962), directed by Roman Polanski.

A somewhat brittle couple on vacation pick up a young hitchhiker and take him out for a day on their sailboat. The husband is playing some sort of masculine dominance game with him; is that wise? The wife doesn't seem interested in the contest -- at first. Erotic tension: of course.

Polanski's first film seems like it will be a absurd social comedy like his Cul-De-Sac (1966) but soon turns more ominous, like a precursor to Dead Calm (1989). Small budget and technically difficult: three actors on a small boat with nowhere to put the camera or film crew. How did they manage the shadows?

We get more than the usual amount of sailboat operations. It is all direct photography, no effects that I can see. I presume all the audio was done after the photography, like an Italian film.

Jazz sax score. Jerzy Skolimowski, one of the writers, later directed Deep End (1970).

Available on DVD from Criterion. Polish language with English subtitles.