- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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Two Very Different Films
- David H.
Although one is generally considered a remake of the other, I think the 1934 and 1956 versions of "The Man Who Knew Too Much" are two very different films. Certainly, the basic plot is the same in both including the climatic scene at Alert Hall. However, there are three main differences. They end differently with a firefight between police and the bad guys in the earlier film film while the later version has the beleaguered couple trying to rescue their child at a foreign embassy. In the 1956 film James Stewart conveys mostly the desperation of a father whose child has been kidnapped while in the 1934 version Leslie Banks is able to keep his cool much of the time. There is also considerably more humor in the earlier film. I think the earlier version is better because sometimes the story seems to be dragged out in the later film.
The Man Who Knew Too Much
- Laurie Brown
This remake of "The Man Who Knew Too Much" was a much more polished version than it's predecessor, very much a Hitchcock film of that era. He returns to the familiar theme of the unsuspecting man thrust into extraordinary circumstances by forces beyond his control, probably more famously explored in "Rear Window" and "North by Northwest". He also returns to familiar collaborator Jimmy Stewart, who never disappoints, especially when working with Hitch. He sticks his neck out a bit by casting Doris Day as Stewart's wife, but the two of them share a believable rapport as husband and wife, and she displays a more impressive range than in some of the fluffy romantic comedies she is more generally associated with. The assassination attempt at the Royal Albert Hall is one of Hitchcock's more celebrated scenes, and rightly so, the decision to forego any dialogue increases the tension, as Stewart, Day and the assassin play a game of cat and mouse while we, as the audience, wait breathlessly for the inevitable and ominous cymbal crash. Unfortunately, the film drags at moments, especially in those scenes between the vacation in Morocco and the Royal Albert Hall scene. After that thrilling sequence, the finale also seems a bit anti-climactic. Not in the same league as some of his certified masterpieces, but still a fine film worthy of three and a half stars. As for the debate as to which of his two versions is better, this one is certainly a more professional production, but there's a certain manic enthusiasm to the British version that is tough to beat, and I thought that Peter Lorre gives the best performance in either film, so I'd have to give my vote to the 1934 version.
Most Under-rated Hirchcock Movie
- Joe Carlton
For various reasons, both the critics and much of the Hitch fan base does not seem to rate this movie much above average. However, for this movie fan who has seen nearly all of the Hitch repertoire, this is one of his stand-out best productions. Many critics often proclaim the first version of this movie which Hitch directed while residing in England in the 1930s as the better of the the two; again, I disagree. Though the first version (which begins at a European ski resort instead of mysterious Morocco as was the setting in the second version) has its taut moments, the movie is lacking the grand scale found in the 1956 version. The first time I saw this movie about 16 years ago, my then 8 year old son watched it with me. Surprisingly, he was riveted by the movie, perhaps because the kidnapped victim was a young boy like himself. (In the first version, the kidnap victim is a young girl.) Most young people have no interest in old movies, but my son became an exception when he saw this one with me. I think one reason modern viewers don't rate this movie all that great is that the notion of a large gathering of people to hear a symphony orchestra perform seems quaint; most people under the age of 50 would prefer a rock concert or hip-hop party for the back-drop setting, much to my chagrin. Over the last 16 years, I have seen this movie several times, and I put it in the top 1% of the greatest movies ever...and among Hitchcock movies, I would put it right up there just behind North by Northwest, Rear Window, Strangers on a Train, and Vertigo....and slightly ahead of such great Hitch classics as Psycho, the Birds, Dial M for Murder, the 39 Steps and Notorious. By the way, two other under-rated Hitch movies I would recommend are Saboteur (1942) and Marnie (1964). Saboteur seems ahead of its time in its focus on foreign enemies plotting the destruction of US infrastructure. Marnie is a psychological thriller as good or better than the Best Picture winner Rebecca.
three stars for Day and Stewart fans
- Robert Mann
In my opinion, especially for Stewart and Day fans, this movie is at least three stars. Yes, flat in some places, but in this era of bombast and overstatement it comes as a refreshing change. rm
The Man Who Knew Too Much
- Michael Whitty
Hitchcock's adventure from Africa to London of an American couple- James Stewart and Doris Day- who have their son kidnapped and they have to go find him with regards to a symphony night at Albert Hall. While this doesn't rate with the best of Hitchcock it still amounts to a good suspenser with Doris singing "Que Sera Sera". The final 15 minutes in getting the boy back are somewhat thrilling as this finishes as a decent Hitchcock plot. The intrigue of London comes out well as the parents get frantic at times to find their son.
The Woman Who Sang Too Much
- Mr. Blandings
A Hitchcock musical? If any actor could be miscast in a Hitchcock film it's Doris flippin' Day. She and Stewart are the "ugly American tourists" caught up in all kinds of boring "intrigue." If you want tense thrills in a musical, check out The Sound of Music instead.
The Man Who Knew Too Much
Overall-3 1/2 out of 5Lead Performers-3 and 1/2 out of 5Supporting Cast-3/5Director-5/5Score-3/5Titles-3/5Screenplay-3/5Cinematography-3/5Importance-2/5Recommendation for fans of genre-3/5
The Man who Knew too Much
- Dashiell Barnes
Hitchcock's remake of his '34 film is more extravagant, but not as good as the original. It's obvious that Stewart & Day don't have the best chemistry, but their performances are good, as is Miles & De Banzie. More of an entertaining piece makes this a less important work of his, but most famous for the Oscar-winning song "Que Sera Sera." Some powerful scenes are covered by lavishness. I give it a 3/5.
Not classic Hitchcock but fine entertainment
Not classic Hitchcock but by most standards, a fine movie with some gripping scenes, particularly when the action shifts from Morocco to London.The Man Who Knew Too Much is considered lightweight entertainment, coming in the midst of a fertile period for its director Alfred Hitchcock. It is a remake of a movie of the same name, made in the mid-1930's. I am only slightly familiar with the original but to me the remake is superior. The slow pace of the movie in the early stages might be attributable to Hitchcock's love of exotic locales and he takes ample time to photograph Morocco. The all-American couple of Dr. Ben McKenna and his wife Jo Conway, a musical star, are from Minneapolis. They are played by Doris Day and Jimmy Stewart, as innocents abroad with their young son Hank. Not entirely comfortable being away from familiar territory, they become distraught once caught up in an international plot. They befriend a British couple, the Draytons (Brenda de Banzie and Bernard Miles) who feign to be fellow tourists and end up double-crossing them. The McKenna family tries to pursue the conspiracy once they land back in London. This takes them to some backstreets and alleys in the British capital and eventually to the Royal Albert Hall, where the climax of the movie takes place. Along the way they stop at a neighbourhood in London, where we witness some surprise action. The harrowing finale at the Royal Albert Hall comes with the clash of cymbals amidst the grandeur of the great edifice. Interesting trivia: On the billboard outside the Albert Hall, we see the name of the director of the London Symphony, Bernard Hermann, who wrote the music for many of Hitchcock's greatest movies. This is an alert to shrewd Hitchcock fans of his appearance in the finale.
Great use of close-ups for suspense
- Jarrod McDonald
A film professor once said that today's directors over-use the close-up. I think maybe that's a result of television's influence, where we are drawn into the intimacy of characters by focusing on facial expressions so much...it might also be a way to hide the fact that TV set designers haven't put much detail into room decor. But we cannot accuse Hitchcock of over-using the close-up. In fact, he uses it very sparingly...usually for moments created to generate the greatest amount of suspense for viewers. These were the key close-ups I noted: the street scene when Jimmy Stewart leans down and the man whispers in his ear; the scene where we see the gun at the music hall; we also see Doris Day's face close-up when she's screaming to avert the assassination; and we see a close-up when Stewart's character breaks into the room holding his son.
A NEAR-GREAT HITCHCOCK CLASSIC
- Bob C.
While it's not considered one of the TOP FIVE Hitchcock classics (Vertigo, Rear Window, North by Northwest, Pyscho, Rebecca) it sure has got to be #6 or #7, definitely in the Top 10. I love it.Two of my favorite scenes: In Albert Hall when James Stewart has to fill in wife Doris Day on all that he has learned is brilliant. At the last minute Hitchcock decided to forego the dialogue and just let us hear the beautiful music playing in the concert hall (we already know the info anyway). And when Doris Day lets out a bloodcurdling scream at the climatic moment in the symphony, she stops the assassination cold.