Homage To Hitchcock - The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
As promised, a return to chronological order for my Homage to Hitchcock’s Top Twenty Films.
The Man Who Knew Too Much is a true rarity in cinema history. Not only is it a remake of the 1934 film of the same name, it is also a remake by the SAME DIRECTOR. That’s right, Hitchcock remade his own movie. Much of his motivation stemmed from the improvements in the technical capabilities of filmmaking. Given Peter Lorre’s star turn in the 1934 version, Hitch might have been happy with the performances of the actors in the older iteration.
But getting the opportunity to move the locales to Morocco and London, and snagging Jimmy Stewart to play the male lead, put the proverbial icing on the cliche-heavy cake.
However, Grace Kelly had alighted for Monaco by this time and Hitch, for the first time in many years found himself short on ice-cool blondes. There was some mention of Vera Miles, but Ms. Miles never found herself on the good side of Sir Alfred.
Enter Doris Day, a woman most men find attractive, but given her status on the pedestal, cannot imagine naked. In defense of Ms. Day’s lack of sex appeal, she more than makes up for it with an emotional performance of a mother heart-broken over the disappearance and subsequent extortion attempts via her precious child’s life.
The plot centers around an assassination attempt on some Ambassador of East Nowhere’s life. The bad guys, led by the serpentine Reggie Nalder, believe Jimmy knows of the plan. To silence him, and his wife, Ms. Day, the boy is taken from them and held for ransom.
The chase, from North Africa to England has the usual twists and turns. In the famous climax, which takes place in Albert Hall, there is a scream and a shot and a cymbal crash and blood and a head first dive, etcetera.
And, spoiler alert, a happy ending because . . . well, it is Doris Day.
Side note to The Man Who Knew Too Much.
My wife and I had an eight month odyssey of a failed courtship, beginning in August of 1983. A combination of no date, a bad date, a change in geography and general bad timing. However, our first really good date was a showing of The Man Who Knew Too Much in New York City in April of 1984.
We’ve been together ever since.
Next up. Vertigo (1958), which I was NOT going to include, but Kim Novak is just waaaaaaaaayyyyyy too sexy to not write about.