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The Man Who Knew Too Much, released in 1956, is Hitchcock's remake of his own earlier 1934 film. The previous film was made in black and white, while the remake starred James Stewart and Doris Day and was filmed in colour on a bigger budget.
The film is about Ben, Jo and Hank McKenna, American tourists in Morocco who inadvertently discover secrets about an assassination plot. When Hank is kidnapped, his parents are torn between whether to reveal all or keep quiet in the hope of saving him. The film's exciting plot never lets up and leads to some great sequences including the scenes in Jemma El Fna, the square in Marrakech, the church in London and the conclusion in the Royal Albert Hall. I've seen the original version and prefer this one - both are good but this one is more exciting and memorable, with tension and steady pacing.
James Stewart, a regular in Hitchcock films of this era, is as usual excellent in the role as the worried father Ben McKenna. The real surprise is Doris Day. Before this film I only knew of her as a singer (and she does sing in this film, a rather famous song called Que Sera, Sera) but her performance is very good, especially in the scene in which she first discovers her little boy's kidnapping, which could easily have been over the top or otherwise unconvincing.
I was hooked by the film and surprised by the plot twists the first time I saw it, but the acting, pacing, scenes and fine directing mean that the film repays repeated viewing. One of my favourite Hitchcock efforts.
The film is rated PG, which I feel is appropriate.
For me, The Man who Knew too Much was a film that could have been a lot better. This is actually a remake of Hitchcock's own original film years before (1934, to be exact), but it still lacks the tension that it should have, and James Stewart doesn't ever really seem comfortable in the role. That said, this is still Hitchcock, and it's still better that most films.
Dr Ben McKenna (Stewart) is on holiday with his wife Jo (Doris Day) and his son Hank. Whilst on a bus, they meet a man called Louis Bernard who they talk to. Ben gets on well with him, but his wife Jo thinks that there is something wrong. Bernard offers to take them out to dinner later that evening, but they end up declining.
Later that evening at their hotel, they meet another couple who are on holiday and befriend them. They are the Draytons (acted by Bernard Miles and Brenda De Banzie). Louis Bernard also enters the restaurant, and Jo is uncomfortable once more.
The next day, Jo's fears are realized when Louis Bernard is murdered. Just before he dies, he is able to say something to Ben. The Draytons offer to take their son Hank away as Ben and Jo go to the police. But things take a very dark turn when their son disappears. Ben and Jo must then go after their son, leading to a few tense moments and one particularly brilliant moment in an auditorium.
Sadly, this doesn't really hit the mark. The actual plot is a clever and worthy one. But this isn't neat and leaves too many questions unanswered, and lacks the tension that is present in other Hitchcock films. It's certainly not bad, and is well worth watching. But it's a bit of a let down when you've seen Hitchcock at his best with Rear Window and Strangers on a Train. James Stewart never seems to take to the role, and at times is a little wooden. And the villains are never characterized as much as they should have been.
A good attempt, but not the greatest.
Although I'm a confessedly big fan of Hitchcock, The Man Who Knew Too Much is not one of my favourites of his, I must admit. In fact, it's my least favourite, and although Hitchcock clearly sees it as a vast improvement professionally on his 1934 original, I'm not so sure I like it anyway.
Dr. Ben McKenna (James Stewart), his wife Jo (Doris Day), and their son Hank (Christopher Olsen) are holidaying in Morocco when they become embroilled in a political intrigue plot, beginning as they meet a man who is then subsequently assassinated. They learn that a further assassination is to occur at the Royal Albert Hall, just as the big cymbal crash occurs at the end of an orchestral piece, resulting in a large and involved set piece at the climax of the film. Sadly, though, it's more a means of promoting Bernard Hermann's soundtrack than anything else - he even appears in the film in rather self ingratiating fashion, although the finale with the assassin about to pick off a rather important man is fairly suspenseful, even if it does drag on too long. Also, the epilogue following this final set piece is again far too long, and distends an already overlong film even further. It's a shame because Hitchcock's films are normally quite brisk and to the point.
Surely among Hitchcock's worst films, The Man Who Knew Too Much presents interesting ideas of race and nationality yet never expands upon them. James Stewart's presence is always welcome, yet his involvement here is mostly pedestrian. The finale is indulgent and serves as overlong posturing to Bernard Herrmann, whilst the sequences that follow the climax are further bloated.
I am a great lover of Alfred Hitchcock, anybody who says their a movie critic should have a resume wiith a review on one of Hitchcock's pictures whether it be his classic "Psycho" with Anthony Perkins, or "The Birds" or the all time classic movie about voyeurism "Rear Window" with Jimmy Stewart. Jimmy Stewart, all time great actor of the "Golden Era" of Hollywood (he was in a It's a Wonderful Life which is shown every year) was actually a Hitchcock regular appearing in at least four of his films: "Vertigo" , "Rope", "Rear Window" and this rarely shown classic "The Man Who Knew too Much". The movie was remade several years later into a comedy with Bill Murray called "The Man Who Knew Too Little". This film is a cliassic because it blends in several areas of topics that made a Hitchcock movie, a Hitchcock movie. It is a great psychological and action thriller in the tradition of "North By Northwest" thatblends conspiracy issues, and political issues into one movie. Hitchcock like always outdid himself with all his movies and this movie is no exception. James Stewart and Doris Day star in this very entertaining and suspenseful thriller from Alfred Hitchcock that is a remake of his 1934 film with Peter Lorre. James Stewart plays Ben MacKenna, a Doctor from Indianapolis and Doris plays Jo Mackenna who are on vacation on Marrakech ,Morocco after spending a special Doctor's meeting in London. They have a boy called Hank MacKenna ,played by Christopher Olsen who for a young age, acts pretty well in the movie. They take a bus to Marrakech, when by accident ,their son Hank accidentaly removes the veil of a Muslim woman whose husband is very upset. As you may know Muslim woman wear veils on their faces because they don't have as much rights as they do men, and they are seen as mostly servants in these co
untries. An arabic man called Louis Bernard who sees the situation, intervenes and explains to the man that it was an accident. As a sign of gratitude, Ben and Jo invite Mr. Bernard for dinner and become friends with him. On their vacation of Marrakech, Ben and Jo meet an elderly couple called the Drayton's who seem like nice people. Afterwards they offer to babysit Hank while Ben and Jo go to the outdoor markets. As Ben and JO are on the outdoor markets, they witness a crime in progress. A man stabbed in the back comes to Ben and as Ben looks closer at this man , he says that it is his good friend Louis Bernard!!!. Before Louis dies, he whispers into Ben's ear "A stateman's shall be killed, you must go to London to Ambrose Chappel". As Ben and Jo go home they learn that the Drayton's have left their hotel and Hank is nowhere to be found. As Ben becomes worried (who wouldn't be after their son gets kidnapped) he gets a phone call from the Drayton's saying that Hank is ok,but that he should keep his mouth shut if he ever wants to see his son again. As a double blow, McKenna's uncover startling new information about their friend Louis and how his death might be related to the kidnapping of their son!! Instead of telling the police about these turn of events Ben and Jo go to London and try to find out where they're son is on they're on. What they will find is a big conspiracy lying in wait for them, and some dangerous people along the way trying to stop Ben and Jo from exposing what they find out about their son's captors. Without giving the good parts of the movie away (there is plenty), Hitchcock being the "Master of Suspense", provides so many twists and turns that you never know what's going to happen until the end of the film. At first the movie sounds like a
simple kidnapping but it's not and no I am not giving too much away here, there lots more things I didn't discuss in the review, keeping other twists including the ending a big surprise for people who haven't seen it. The movie itself is best well known for Doris Day's singing of "Que Sera, Sera" which won the Academy Award for best song in this picture and elevated Doris Day into not only a good actress but a good singer as well. The DVD is full of bonuses: Biographies of Doris Day, James Stewart and Alfred Hitchcock. Trailers for other Hitchcock classics like "The Birds", "Rope", "Rear Window" and many more in widescreen format. The great thing about these trailers is that some of the them are introduced by the genius himself Alfred Hitchcock!!! What separated Hitchcock from many directors of his time (and present time) is that he liked to pitch his own movies to the audiences. If you watch any of the above movies I mentioned on DVD, youll see rare footage of Hitchcock himself talking about the success of his movies, and how basically jhe pitched the movies himself to his studio company, Universal (Hitchcock brought in big money to Universal). On the dvd as mentioned, youll get a long documentary on the making of the movie, again with rare footage and behind the scenes features with Hitchcock himself. *Youll also get personal production photographs during the making of the film, accompanied by tunes of the film. *There is even a DVD Rom section for PC's that have DVD rom capabilities include more bonuses including sound clips and more interactive menus. All the Hitchcock movies Ive watched on DVD are Top Quality, and unlike other studio companies that shell out poor dvd for classic movies, Universal does a good job with the Hitchcock collection, and youll definitely get the m ost bang for
your buck with them. A nicely done DVD by Universal Pictures. If you don't have a DVD, watch the VHS version because this is a very good movie.
Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 remake of his own 1934 spy thriller is an exciting event in its own right, with several justifiably famous sequences. James Stewart and Doris Day play American tourists who discover more than they wanted to know about an assassination plot. When their son is kidnapped to keep them quiet, they are caught between concern for him and the terrible secret they hold. When asked about the difference between this version of the story and the one he made 22 years earlier, Hitchcock always said the first was the work of a talented amateur while the second was the act of a seasoned professional. Indeed, several extraordinary moments in this update represent consummate film-making, particularly a relentlessly exciting Albert Hall scene, with a blaring symphony, an assassin's gun, and Doris Day's scream. Along with Hitchcock's other films from the mid-1950s to 1960 (including Vertigo, Rear Window, and Psycho), The Man Who Knew Too Much is the work of a master in his prime. --Tom Keogh, Amazon.com