The Man Who Knew Too Much is a strange film as it is one that was made twice by Hitchcock (I know right?). This version being made in Britain in 1934 is the first attempt and is a very interesting watch; from the outset you can see the potential in this film and it is clear to see why Hitch decided to remake me 22 years of later. 

WHAT HAPPENED?

The films premise is very interesting. A family are on a skiing holiday in the Alps when a friend of theirs is murdered. After discovering he was a spy trying to prevent the assassination of a high-ranked politician in London the husband (Leslie Banks) and his wife (Edna Best) find that their daughter has been kidnapped by a master villain (Peter Lorre) in an attempt to blackmail them. Back in London the husband takes law into his own hands and hunts for his daughter whilst his wife attempts to stop the assassination in a climatic sequence at the Albert Hall.

THE GOOD

The entire premise of the film is great and gives Hithcock the room for plenty of tension. The idea of a man trying to save his kidnapped daughter may not seem entirely original now but at the time I’m sure it was something, which audiences had rarely (if ever) seen before – on film anyway.

The film shows off the Hitchcockian feature of balancing comedy with tension perfectly as the film showcases fantastic moments of both. The former coming through the spoken jokes of a British man trying to speak German; he does the typically British thing of speaking English in a German accent saying lines such as ‘Du British Du Consul?’ which is quite frankly hilarious.

The tension at points in the film is also nearly perfectly done the aforementioned climax at the Albert Hall (Hitchcockian use of a landmark) is a perfect example of such. Live bands are performing as the woman searches the crowd for both the politician and the murderer. As the music gets louder and faster the cuts match and the tension becomes almost unbearable at points, it is simply fantastic filmmaking.

Image

Probably my personal favourite part of the film was seeing Peter Lorre in what was his first British role. I am a huge fan of Peter Lorre with appearing in my Top Ten films so it is always nice to see him play his usual villain role.

Image

 

THE BAD

Moments of the film are generally tedious there is a lot of pointless dialogue in between the action sequences which is really not needed however I guess this is there because the film is only 75 minutes so cutting parts would probably have made issues in terms of cinematic release at the time.

The finale of the film is also stupidly long; after the brilliant scene at the Albert hall we are forced to sit through a ten minute police shootout in which not much happens (it felt like it was there just too tie up loose ends); the end of the shoot out is good but before that it really lack tension or drama.

CAMEO O’CLOCK

There is a Hitchcock cameo in this film with Alfred playing a gentleman in a trench coat standing on the corner of a road. However there is some debate as to whether this is actually him or just an extra (I’m fairly certain it is him though)

Image

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

The film is reasonable and shows glimpses of brilliance without being brilliant as a whole. The potential in the story is clear and you can see why Hitchcock would want to remake it when a bigger budget and better technology was available to him. This version is ok but I am looking forward to seeing the remake in a few weeks time.

3 Hitchs.

Image Image Image