The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

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9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

One of my favorite Hitchcocks

Not as flashy as some of his other films

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Man Who Knew Too Much

Studio:  Filwite Productions, Inc.

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  June 1, 1956

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

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Oh…blackface? You’re an offensive spy!

Indianapolis doctor Ben McKenna (James Stewart), his famous singer wife Jo (Doris Day), and their son Hank (Christopher Olsen) are traveling in Africa when they encounter a man named Louis Bernard (Daniel Gélin).  In the crowded marketplace, Bernard is killed…whispering a secret in the ear of Ben involving an assassination attempt in London.  When Hank is kidnapped by the assassins, Ben and Jo find they must discover a way to rescue their son and stop an international incident before it is too late!

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, The Man Who Knew Too Much is a remake of Hitchcock’s earlier 1934 version of the film and followed The Trouble with Harry in 1955.  The movie was part of Hitchcock’s legendary “lost films” (which included Vertigo, Rope, The Trouble with Harry, and Rear Window) that were owned by Hitchcock and taken out of circulation for thirty years until bought and released by Universal in 1984.  The film won an Oscar for Best Original Song for “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)”.

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He’s gunning for you!

I have to say that this is one of my favorite Hitchcock films.  To me it encapsulates a lot of what made Hitchcock great and also features a fun and different story.  The debate on which version is better does rage, but each version of the film has its merits…it is rare to get to see a director “fix” his films and unlike George Lucas with Star Wars, Hitchcock did it without ruining the memories of the original film.

The plot is rather daring at points because often the tension is odd because the characters are hiding in plain sight.  It is obvious to the police that Ben and Jo know something, but aren’t saying it…and aren’t trying very hard to hide what they are doing from the police or the kidnappers.  Instead, the characters have to work within the confines of being seen and find a way to resolve the kidnapping and assassination attempt by using their visibility.

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It’s Hitch! (and why did we all stop to watch a movie?)

The movie is also loaded with a lot of humor.  Be it the awkward dinner at the Moroccan restaurant, the confrontation at the church, or the most awkward and loud singing of “Que Sera, Sera” at the embassy, the movie has a lot of tongue-in-cheek moments that Hitchcock always played up well.  This aspect is a bit different form the original version which had a more serious approach, and more in line with Hitchcock’s later films so I find it a nice blending of old and new.

Jimmy Stewart was a perfect “everyman” and Hitchcock and others recognized it.  He emits a sense of honesty and urgency that is necessary for the story.  Doris Day, like many female actresses, grappled with Hitchcock more and didn’t want to even sing “Que Sera, Sera” which became her biggest hit.  The film also led her to her lifelong philanthropy work on the ethical treatment of animals (she didn’t like what she saw in Morocco).  Their son was played by child actor Christopher Olsen whose sister is Susan Olsen who played Cindy on The Brady Bunch.

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Sing it, Doris!

The movie isn’t as visually stunning as some of Hitchcock movies, but it does have some great visual moments.  The scene at the Albert Hall manages to have tension and suspense with no dialogue and Doris Day really shows her struggle of deciding between a man’s life and her child’s life.  Scenes like this would be done with dialogue today, but here, all you hear is the performance.

The Man Who Knew Too Much is a great film.  Hitchcock did make better movies, but this is one of my favorite films of his because it is pretty indicative of his work as a whole.  Hitchcock followed up The Man Who Knew Too Much with The Wrong Man in 1956.

Related Links:

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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