on July 15, 2004
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Studio: Universal Studios
Video Release Date: August 3, 1999
James Stewart ... Dr. Ben McKenna
Doris Day ... Jo McKenna
Brenda De Banzie ... Lucy Drayton
Bernard Miles ... Edward Drayton
Ralph Truman ... Buchanan
Daniel Gélin ... Louis Bernard
Mogens Wieth ... Ambassador
Alan Mowbray ... Val Parnell
Hillary Brooke ... Jan Peterson
Christopher Olsen ... Hank McKenna
Reggie Nalder ... The assassin
Richard Wattis ... Assistant manager
Noel Willman ... Woburn
Alix Talton ... Helen Parnell
Yves Brainville ... Police inspector
Carolyn Jones ... Cindy Fontaine
Harry Fine ... Edington
Alex Frazer ... Man
Wolf Frees ... Aide to the foreign Prime Minister
Milton Frome ... Guard
Leo Gordon ... Chauffer
Walter Gotell ... Guard
Frank Atkinson ... Taxidermist
Bernard Herrmann ... Himself (conductor)
Alfred Hitchcock ... Man in Morocco marketplace
George Howe ... Ambrose Chappell Sr
Harold Kasket ... Butler
Barry Keegan ... Patterson
Lou Krugman ... Arab
Lloyd Lamble ... General manager of Albert Hall
Donald Lawton ... Desk clerk
Mayne Lynton ... Taxidermist
John Barrard ... Taxidermist
Edward Manouk ... French waiter
Richard Marner ... Aide to the foreign Prime Minister
John Marshall ... Butler
Lewis Martin ... Detective
Louis Mercier ... French policeman
Ralph Neff ... Henchman
Leslie Newport ... Inspector at Albert Hall
John O'Malley ... Uniformed attendant
Liddell Peddieson ... Taxidermist
Arthur Ridley ... Ticket collector
Patrick Aherne ... Handyman
Eric Snowden ... Special Branch officer
Alexi Bobrinskoy ... Foreign Prime Minister
Guy Verney ... Footman
Anthony Warde ... French policewoman
Patrick Whyte ... Special Branch officer
Peter Williams ... Police sergeant
Richard Wordsworth ... Ambrose Chappell Jr
Allen Zeidman ... Assistant manager
Clifford Buckton ... Sir Kenneth Clarke
Peter Camlin ... Headwaiter
Abdelhaq Chraibi ... Arab
Gladys Holland ... Bernard's girlfriend
Barbara Howitt ... Soloist in Albert Hall sequence
Enid Lindsey ... Lady Clarke
Janet Macfarlane ... Lady in audience
Betty Bascomb ... Edna
Elsa Palmer ... Cook
Mahin S. Shahrivar ... Arab woman
Alma Taylor ... Box office woman
Janet Bruce ... Box office woman
Naida Buckingham ... Lady in audience
Barbara Burke ... Assassin's girlfriend
Pauline Farr ... Ambassador's wife
Bess Flowers ... Woman in Hotel Lobby
On vacation in Marrakech, Morocco, Dr. Ben McKenna (James Stewart), his wife Jo (Doris Day) and their son Hank (Chrisopher Olson), meet a secret agent, Louis Bernard (Daniel Gélin) who is killed because he is in possession of a secret: a statesman is about to be assassinated in London. Before he dies, he confides in McKenna some of the details. To keep the doctor quiet, the
bad guys grab his son, Hank, and threaten his life.
This is the story as it unfolds. Hitchcock does his usual fine job of keeping up the tension, and of course Stewart and Day do their usual excellent job of acting. This is a superb thriller, and endlessly entertaining.
Joseph (Joe) Pierre
author of Handguns and Freedom...their care and maintenance
and other books
on June 25, 2004
Alfred Hitchcock did a wonderful job on this 1935 remake of The Man Who Know Too Much. Dr. Ben McKenna, played by James Stewart, his wife, Jo (Doris Day), and their son are vacationing in French Morocco. They meet up with many suspicious charaters, but they befriend one man, played by Daniel Gelin. Their friend was a detective and was shot in front of many people while in the midst of trying to solve a case. Then the McKenna's son is kidnapped by some other "friends". The police aren't helping with the case so Ben decides to figure out who the kidnappers are by himself. This is the only Alfred Hitchcock film in which a song is sung. The song "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" won an Acadamey Award. Doris Day's acting is brilliant. She really got me to feel like I was her. That my son had just been kidnapped and I could not go on living. The movie was so good that I cried because I was deeply affected by the charaters feelings and emotions. This is one of my favorite Alfred Hitchcock thirllers and one of my favorite Doris Day films.
on May 13, 2004
Alfred Hitchcock remade his own 1934 motion picture. The black & white 75 minute version was good. But now we have this glorious Technicolor 1956 version with a new cast and is 2 hours long. Doris Day and James Stewart are traveling to Marrakech with their son, Hank (Christopher Olsen). Aboard the bus, their son accidentially had removed the black veil (absolutly forbidden) of a native woman. A Mr. Louis Bernard (Daniel Gelin) steps in to save the boy and his parents from disaster. Mr. Bernard turns out to be a kind man from France and helps the family on their vacation. There first stop is in Morocco. Doris is very suspicious of Mr. Bernard because he asks so many questions. Her husband assures his wife it's just small conversation. While the couple goes to dinner without Mr. Bernard, who had a sudden matter to attend to, they meet a couple at dinner who befriends them and helps with dinner etiquette and shopping at the Trade
Market Place. Ultimatly, the couple gets involved in a murder mystery.
This is an excellent Alfred Hitchcock motion picture. Very serious. Doris Day ofers a fine dramatic performance. She also debuts the tune, "Que Sera Sera", which plays a very key role in the film. Christopher Olsen was also in "I'll See You In My Dreams" (1951) and is the brother of Susan Olsen of "The Brady Bunch" tv series.
on December 27, 2003
The McKenna's are on vacation in Europe and they have decided on visiting the lively north African country Morocco where Dr. Ben McKenna (James Stewart) once was stationed during World War II. On the trip to the city of Marrakech the family meets Louis Bernard through an accident caused by Hank, their son. Louis seems to be very interested in the who they are and what do. Jo (Doris Day), Bens wife, thinks it seems odd that a man wants to know so much, but do not disclose anything about himself. Later on the McKenna's meet another British couple who they spend the day with, and during the day in a large marketplace Louis appears dying from a stab wound. Before Louis dies he reveals for Ben through a whisper that a murder is about to take place in London. However, someone kidnaps Hank, so Ben and Jo have to approach the dangerous situation with caution. The Man Who Knew Too Much provides suspense that is built up slowly, but done so with shrewd awareness of what the audience expects. This leaves the audience with a noteworthy cinematic experience, however, the film is still far from Hitchcock's best creations.
on May 19, 2003
This is a very fine film. OK --we know this is definitely from the 50's and we can tell Stewart and Day are sitting in a studio wagon surrounded by artificial backgrounds etc. etc. But the drama is palpable and characters are great, all the acting fine from the leads down to just about every character actor.
Jimmy Stewart is his usual believable, natural self as an ordinary American tourist typical of that era (rather well off but, as usual, the everyman).
Don't believe that Doris Day doesn't do a wonderful job too. So it's annoyinig that she is weepy -- how would YOU react if spies (or today's terms -- international terrorists) kidnapped your only child? I find it far, far more unbelievable when movie heroes (and heroines) react as if they are not human, only slightly stressed, never faultering, never too emotional, never fumbling or irrational in the middle of incredibly extreme situations. I found her entirely believable and normal.
Judging the scene where she is at the back of the hall (Royal Albert Hall) but doesn't run to tell someone, consider the situation -- anything she did could have repercussions against her son. You are frozen with fear and horror, and there is no clear-minded, cool solution that would also guarantee your son's life. The scream is a simple reaction of horror to something she did not know how to stop.
The person who commented about the actor portraying Mr. Drayton was spot-on, too. He seems to transform himself throughout the movie. I also like the humor that manages to assert itself here and there. My only reservation is with the end -- it is unsettling. You have been along for the long suspenseful ride and then are thrown out of the car. Seems rather quirky. ...
on October 24, 2002
It isn't often that directors have the chance to remake/update a film that they themselves made. Such is the case with Alfred Hitchcock's THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. The director first made the film in 1934. Some 21 years later, he decided to make it again, because he was never fully satisfied with the way the original turned out...
The film is very typical for a Hitchcock motion picture. There's humor, suspense, and a solid script by screenwriter John Michael Hayes. Stewart and Day give fine performances. Doris Day not only gets to test her acting skills in a dramatic role, she also sings one of her signature tunes, "Que, Sera, Sera", for the first time as well. The climax of the film is a shot for shot recreation of the 1934 film and remains a classic. Hitchcock preferred this version, over the original, saying that "the first film was made by an amatuer, while the remake was made by a professional"
The DVD has a great retrospective documentary that looks at the film with crew interviews. There's a publicity and production photo gallery, production notes, cast and crew bios, and vintage theatrical trailers, the make up the extras on the disc. A must for any Hitchcock fan. The film may not be as talked about as some of the other movies by the director, but it's still a good flick
on July 19, 2002
Alfred Hitchcock's remake of his own "The Man Who Knew Too Much" has much to recommend it. Although some may miss the swift pacing of the 1934 original, this version provides the viewer with the leisure to absorb the gorgeous Moroccan locations, and the opportunity to get further inside the lives of the desperate parents. Although Stewart gives a strong performance, Doris Day dominates the picture. Abandoning all her quirky, comic mannerisms, Day turns in startlingly grounded performance as the frightened mother. She never gave a stronger performance.
In all fairness, the film runs too long, and although the tension mounts and subsides at all the proper moments, the family's plight never fully engages the viewer. The famous Albert Hall sequence provides more than enough suspense, but, until the day I die, I will never accept that any theatre would allow a ticketless woman displaying severe signs of mental disturbance to stand in the rear of the auditorium during any performance- let alone one attended by a head of State.
on July 17, 2002
1956'S THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is Hitchcock's effective remake of his own 1934 version. An American couple (James Stewart and Doris Day) visiting Morocco have their young son kidnapped as part of an international murder plot which they can not help but be drawn into. Doris Day's performance is brilliant as the mother whose son has been taken from her. Her initial reaction to the news is almost unbearable to watch. This film is very suspenseful and disturbing, as the odds against the family regaining their boy seem insurmountable as the film progresses. This is reinforced by Bernard Herrmann's almost minimal score, which adds an undercurrent of discomfort to the psyche of the viewer. There are some very memorable scenes such as when James Stewart is followed by echoing footsteps in the empty London streets on his way to finding Ambrose Chappell. The suspenseful Albert Hall assassination scenes are brilliantly filmed and edited. The face of Reggie Nalder as Rien the Assassin is unforgettable. Brenda de Banzie turns in a complex performance as Mrs. Drayton. Bernard Miles as Mr. Drayton also gives an effective performance through the various identities he goes through. And that is one of the strengths of this film: people and places are not exactly as they seem. Characters constantly evolve. Some grow in strength while others are mere shadows of virtue.
on July 13, 2002
This film is great fun. It sets up its exotic North African locale effectively from the beginning, and Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day (as Dr. and Mrs. McKenna) have a strong rapport as a couple traveling with their young son. The movie quickly puts you on edge, as you sense that things are not as they seem and that this family is getting embroiled into some unknown but sinister events. As the plot unfolds and their predicament becomes clearer, the suspense ratchets up in a series of great, anguished scenes in the police office (as Stewart nervously flips the pages of a book while listening to a phone conversation about his endangered son) and the hotel (with Doris Day's pitch-perfect scene in which she finds out that their son has been kidnapped). As the story shifts to London, we have the wonderful "Chappell's Taxidermy" scene and other gems that lead to the justly famous climax at Albert's Hall. There Hitchcock effectively uses dramatic music and acting to let the suspense SLOWLY build to a fever pitch. Part of what makes this scene so stunning is the stillness that prevails during most of it. We know what is coming, but nobody seems able to stop it. Most directors today would try to throw in a bunch of gunplay, explosions, and chases but would end up with something that would not be in the least bit suspenseful.
Although the last part of the film still is entertaining, it seems somewhat anti-climactic after the scene in Albert Hall, and the film ends rather abruptly with a scene played for laughs that needs more breathing space to be effective. The plot seems to hang together well except for one glaring exception: how did the three criminals manage to take over the church in London and have a thriving congregation? Also, and this is a minor point, the first scene with "Que Sera Sera" seems rather stagey, as if part of Mary Poppins or the Sound of Music somehow got mistakenly inserted into this film. Finally, the colors are rather garish. Let's hope that a remastering will take place soon.
All carping aside, this is a gripping film. Doris Day offers a heartfelt, emotional performance and Jimmy Stewart is wonderful as always.
on July 4, 2002
With Hitchcock at the helm, no film can be truly awful, but despite some fine sequences, this offering is a little disappointing. The first section of the movie is played like a marital comedy, with some light banter between Stewart and Day, and a musical number thrown in to showcase Day's singing talents. It is mostly banal, though little by little, a few cracks begin to appear as we see that there are tensions in their marriage. Soon, however, an opportunity arises for Stewart to resolve the tensions by proving his virility: like the true man he feels he ought to be, he sets off in search of kidnapped son, Hank, after the pair find themselves entangled in international espionage and an assassination plot. It is here that the awaited suspense and thrills begin after a rather slow and humdrum start.
The middle section of the film is the most successful, exhibiting all the flair we have come to expect from Hitchcock. The twenty or so minutes either side of the suspense, however, are merely tedious. The last reel prolongs the film unnecessarily, far beyond what seems like the natural climax (the Albert Hall sequence). By then we are anxiously tapping our feet, waiting for it all to be over.
Nevertheless, the REAL finale (appearing some twenty minutes before the end) is one of Hitchcock's finest and most glorious moments. Filmed on location at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the suspense is palpable, and the effect, quite breathtaking. The entire sequence is a brilliantly articulate combination of editing (George Tomasini), camerawork (Robert Burks) and music (from the 1934 version by Arthur Benjamin, though conducted live on film by Bernard Herrmann, who composed the rest of the score, in a unique cameo). Even the dreadfully miscast Doris Day's overacting does not reduce the overall impact.
How can I not recommend this film? It is not all it could be, but it is certainly worth watching the whole for a few stretches of style between the moments of mediocrity.