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Knives Out [2019] (1 disc)

Director:Rian Johnson
Writer:Rian Johnson
Composer:Nathan Johnson
Length:131 minutes
(2 hours 11 minutes)
MPAA Rating:PG-13
Sorting Category:Mystery
IMDB Rating:7.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating:97%
Amazon Rating:4.5/5 stars
User rating sites like above
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  • Mystery
  • Drama
  • Action
  • Dark Comedy
  • Family
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Synopsis: A detective investigates the death of a patriarch of an eccentric, combative family.

Reaction: Great film, fun mystery, and stylized direction. It stands up well to multiple watches and hearkens back to classic mysteries like Agatha Christie.

Personal Rating: 9/10

Rian Johnson => Director / Writer
Nathan Johnson => Composer
Ana de Armas => Marta Cabrera
Chris Evans => Ransom Drysdale
Christopher Plummer => Harlan Thrombey
Daniel Craig => Benoit Blanc
Don Johnson => Richard Drysdale
Frank Oz => Alan Stevens
Jaeden Martell => Jacob Thrombey
Jamie Lee Curtis => Linda Drysdale
Joseph Gordon-Levitt => Detective Hardrock (voice)
K Callan => Greatnana Wanetta
Katherine Langford => Meg Thrombey
LaKeith Stanfield => Lieutenant Elliott
M. Emmet Walsh => Mr. Proofroc
Marlene Forte => Marta's Mom
Michael Shannon => Walt Thrombey
Noah Segan => Trooper Wagner
Riki Lindhome => Donna Thrombey
Shyrley Rodriguez => Alicia
Toni Collette => Joni Thrombey

Random Trivia For This Title:

  • Working out the mechanism by which to handle and explain Marta's switching up the drugs is the script element that kept Rian Johnson frustrated the longest. "I need something where both she and the audience crucially need to believe that she has messed up, and through her error has killed him, but it needs to be something that I can effectively undo at the end of the movie." He says he went through lots of overly complicated variations before settling on the finished element.
  • At one point, a baseball on Harlan's desk is picked up and thrown out the window of his office. Roughly around the same time in the movie, Benoit Blanc states "the game is afoot" referencing the old Sherlock Holmes' phrase meaning the search continues. The baseball then continues to pass from character to character in one way or another. The baseball represents the "game being in play" and when the mystery is finally solved the ball goes back onto the desk symbolizing the end of the game/search. This is also a metaphor for Harlan's love of games and his one last hurrah.
  • Harlan Thrombey asks Marta how she always beats him at Go, she responds "you're playing to win, I'm playing to make a pretty pattern." This nicely foreshadows Marta's arc; while the Thrombey family members try to lie, cheat, and manipulate their way inheriting Harlan's estate, Marta is the only person who repeatedly attempts to do the right thing even at her own expense. She ends up inheriting everything, thus, she "wins." They call it Go, but even though there are only a few shots of the game in progress, they are enough to identify that they are actually playing Gomoku (5-in-a-row), a game played with the same board and stones, but much less complex than Go.
  • The message Harlan leaves for Linda in the envelope written with invisible ink (which Richard merely saw as a blank sheet of paper when he found it): "My heart, It's time to cut the dead wood. He's cheating on you. I have proof. I know you don't need to see. Untether yourself. It's time - Dad."
  • The first time Marta is seen at the Thrombey house, she is looking upwards at the house and members of the family from the driveway. In the last scene, the surviving members of the Thrombey family are all standing in the same spot in the driveway, looking up at Marta on the balcony, nicely signifying that the roles have been reversed.
  • The Man Who Would Be King (1975) is one of Rian Johnson's favorite movies, so between takes he would try to get Christopher Plummer to talk about working with the legendary John Huston.
  • The beats with Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) playing a piano key periodically were originally written with him sitting behind Lt. Elliott's (LaKeith Stanfield) chair and tapping it with his foot. Once they were on location, though, Rian Johnson realized that the geography of the room afforded him the better option of the piano.
  • The coin Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig) flips is a 1901 US Morgan silver dollar. 90% silver, these coins were recalled during WWI to help fund the war and are therefore very hard to find. In good condition they can fetch more than $3000.
  • Rian Johnson acknowledges that despite numerous edits and attempts to shave it down, the script's opening interrogation sequence (complete with flashbacks edited in) was "always a really tough read." He would have people read it and adds that "I never didn't get the note that 'boy those first thirty pages are rough, and then it kicks into gear.'"
  • They had to digitally paint out some of the blood they used on set for that first appearance of Harlan Thrombey's (Christopher Plummer) dead body, in order to secure a PG-13 rating.
  • Patton Oswalt contacted Rian Johnson after the film opened to ask if the needle drop of [?] Gordon Lightfoot's {"Sundown"} at (1:21:47) was an intentional reference. Apparently the song is (possibly) about a groupie Lightfoot had experience with named [?] Cathy Smith who's best known for being the one who gave [?] John Belushi a fatal injection of heroin and cocaine in 1982. "And Patton, who is brilliant in his thinking in terms of 3D chess is like 'was that a crazy reference to Marta?'"
  • Jacob Thrombey (Jaeden Martell), the preppy grandson in the film who's always on his phone, was a character influenced by those that voiced their criticisms online over writer/director Rian Johnson's previous film, Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi (2017), who he continues to characterize as "trolls" and "manbabies."
  • The song Benoit Blanc sings while waiting in the car is {"Losing My Mind"} from the Stephen Sondheim musical "Follies". Oddly, the show was originally conceived by Sondheim and playwright [?] James Goldman as a murder mystery. Daniel is a massive Liza Minnelli fan and insisted on using her version of this song from her collaboration with The Pet Shop Boys.
  • "I had written into the script that Blanc speaks with a subtle Southern accent," says Rian Johnson, and after they all finish laughing he explains that Daniel Craig researched accents and became attached to historian [?] Shelby Foote's cadence and drawl. "So it's kind of that, it's a little Foghorn Leghorn, and it's also a little Harlan Pepper which is Christopher Guest's character in Best in Show, which is funny because Christopher Guest is Jamie Lee Curtis' husband." Johnson added.
  • At least two character names appear to be homages to "Who Killed Harlowe Thrombey?", an early entry in the popular Choose Your Own Adventure children's book series of the 1970s and 80s: The film's deceased patriarch, Harlan Thrombey, and elderly groundskeeper Proofroc (an inept detective named Prufrock is a secondary character in the book). The book, like the film, centers around the death of a wealthy man whose extended family are all potential suspects in his demise.
  • The portrait of Harlan Thrombey was digitally added in post production. (The painting of Harlan wasn't finished until after filming wrapped.) The last glimpse of the portrait (at 2:04) is tweaked a little "leaving everything feeling okay." He's now smiling.
  • It was Don Johnson's idea for his character to hand his empty plate to Marta as if she was the maid during the immigration conversation.
  • Noah Segan recalls the scene where his character grabs Chris Evans' upper arm "and I could not find purchase his arm muscle was much larger than my hand."
  • Daniel Craig based Benoit Blanc's speech style on Southern historian [?] Shelby Foote.
  • M. Emmet Walsh replaced Ricky Jay, who died on November 24, 2018, during production. A photo of Jay is visible for a few seconds just before Walsh first appears on camera.
  • Harlan dies on his 85th birthday. This is a reference to [?] Agatha Christie who died at the age of 85. Knives Out is a tribute to Christie's writing style and stories
  • Several characters refer to a fictional Hallmark movie starring Danica McKellar titled "Deadly by Surprise." Though McKellar was not asked if her name could be used, she was delighted that it was included, and she shared her love for this film on Instagram. She later sent director Rian Johnson a knife with the words "Deadly by Surprise" engraved on it.
  • Jacob's line "You had sex with my grandpa, you dirty anchor baby!" was ad-libbed by Jaeden Martell, but it was lost in the scene as multiple characters were talking and yelling. Michael Shannon noticed that and approached Rian Johnson, telling him that Martell had a killer line, so they made sure to go back and capture it.
  • When Ransom tells his family at the will reading to 'eat $#!&', he originally was supposed to tell them 'F^@& you'. This was changed to keep the film PG-13.
  • When Benoit Blanc is first seen by the audience, he is sitting in the study listening to Lieutenant Elliot question the Thrombey family members, playing the same note on the piano at seemingly random intervals. This was not random at all; after Blanc hits the piano key Lieutenant Elliot always asks the same question; "What time did you arrive at the house?" The piano key was Blanc's signal to Elliot to ask the question.
  • Rian Johnson contemplated cutting Blanc's doughnut speech, but Craig convinced him that it was good. Watching the actor deliver it sold him on keeping the entire thing.
  • The police detective heard on the television series Marta's sister is watching is voiced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, billed in the film's credits as playing Detective Hardrock. Gordon-Levitt has appeared in five of the films Rian Johnson has directed.
  • Despite playing his mother in the film, K Callan is six years younger than Christopher Plummer.
  • (At 30 mins.) They had to re-shoot the shot of Walt Thrombey (Michael Shannon) smoking his cigar on the porch because the character in the window behind him was too clear -- it's later revealed that it's Marta, so they further obfuscated it by having Craig's stand-in don the robe instead.
  • Apple agreed to have their products used in the film, on the condition that no Apple products could be used by the killer. Notably, Marta does not use any Apple products, further enforcing the idea that she was responsible for Harlan's death until the final reveal.