The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956 – ★★★½

#11 in the Reverse Hitchcock project.

My rewatch of this was initially aborted by picking up an appalling pan and scan version from my collection instead of the proper widescreen version from Sky Movies, and these things matter!

So, with the right version in the DVD player, there’s the overture, the clash of cymbals, and the hint that a family would be rocked by events to come. This film, teaming James Stewart (in his third Hitchcock title), and Doris Day, remakes the 1934 film Hitch made in England with Peter Lorre as the star.

Hitch described the earlier film as the work of ‘a talented amateur’, and this one as the work of a professional, so let’s see.

Not an exact remake, but a re-visioning with some plot aspects in common, this film is certainly more assured and slicker than the version from two decades earlier. Day’s casting was also inspired, not just because she can add songs (namely the much parodied ‘Que Sera Sera’), but because she was a fine actress who had convincing screen chemistry with Stewart.

There’s a kidnapped child, a Royal Albert Hall set piece, an English couple (Bernard Miles and Brenda de Banzie), and some choice location shooting in Marrakesh. The significance of the cymbals is a clever one, Hitch’s cameo is amusing (watching the acrobats), and there is a well-paced sense of tension with the intelligence/assassination plot.

It might be perverse to say that I like this film, but nevertheless prefer the original version, but such is the case. This is that bit too cutesy in places, and too American in feel – still, it is an assured entry in the Master’s catalogue.

Vía Letterboxd – loureviews

About Louise Penn

Writer, reviewer, fan. View all posts by Louise Penn

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