Back Add a Comment Share:
Facebook Button
The Man Who Knew Too Much, starring James Stewart and Doris Day, is the 1955 remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s own 1934 version of the same movie. Hitchcock himself preferred the later version, and it certainly makes for an entertaining two hours of viewing.

Man Who Knew Too Much, The
Movie
Ben and Jo MacKenna (Stewart and Day) are tourists from the United States who are caught up, along with their son, in dangerous events when they visit Morocco and stumble onto a deadly plot. The Man Who Knew Too Much keeps the viewer interested and intrigued throughout. Who is the man who whispers a secret to Stewart in the marketplace? Are the friendly older couple who they seem? Who can be trusted?

The conventional terms of “suspense” or “thriller” seem to fall short of conveying what The Man Who Knew Too Much is like. The movie can be most accurately described as an “adventure story.” Probably the best comparison, though on paper instead of on film, are Hergé’s Adventures of Tintin. It’s this “adventure story” atmosphere that makes the movie feel different from many modern films. The viewer is taken through the events of the movie from the perspective of the characters, finding out how the story unfolds as the characters do, from early suspicions to complications to finally putting the pieces together. Hitchcock doesn’t limit the film entirely to the point of view of Ben and Jo MacKenna, but he does stay with them nearly all the time, and it’s with these characters that the viewer identifies.

The Man Who Knew Too Much is a good example of how a movie can be exciting and suspenseful without resorting to pointless violence and action scenes. The comic elements (such as the MacKennas attempting to follow Moroccan table manners in a restaurant) add an occasional light touch without being overdone. The story is engaging and fast-paced without being hurried, and both Stewart and Day turn in convincing performances as the worried tourist parents caught up in events beyond their experience. Stewart in particular is perfect as the slightly harried, small-town husband and father; Day’s performance as the singer who has given up her career adds a subtle note of tragedy to the otherwise picture-perfect family.

Man Who Knew Too Much, The
The DVD back-cover copy calls attention to the inclusion of the song “Que Sera, Sera,” which won an Academy Award, but this is one element that has not aged as well as the rest of the movie. It was evidently a hit in 1956, but now seems less impressive and appears to be a somewhat forced element. To Hitchcock’s credit, though, he does come up with a fairly reasonable plot purpose for the song in the end.

Video
The recent releases of Hitchcock’s films such as North by Northwest, Rear Window, and The Man Who Knew Too Much demonstrate the importance of professional film restoration. Like the others, The Man Who Knew Too Much has obviously benefited from a first-class restoration job; the transfer here is superior to many DVD transfers of movies made twenty or thirty years later. The anamorphic 1.85:1 image is sharp, with crisp edges and good colors.

Audio
The audio is supplied on a Dolby 2.0 mono track. It’s a bit of a disappointment when one has gotten used to Dolby 5.1, but it’s fine for what it is. The movie doesn’t have any spectacular sound effects that would benefit from surround sound; and most importantly, the dialogue is clear.

Man Who Knew Too Much, The
Extras
The documentary is excellent. It’s informative and well-made, with interview material from many of the different people involved with making the film. The documentary focuses on the process of making the film, touching on elements such as Hitchcock’s decision to remake the earlier version, and what was changed, and the choice of music for the film. The disc also includes production photographs, production notes, theatrical trailers, and information on cast and filmmakers.

Overall
Overall, this is a movie that’s definitely worth watching, and re-watching. It’s an entertaining movie with a refreshingly different feel than many modern films, and the excellent image quality makes it a pleasant viewing experience.


Links: