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The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Mystery, Thriller  |  15 April 1935 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 11,234 users  
Reviews: 94 user | 68 critic

A man and his wife receive a clue to an imminent assassination attempt, only to learn that their daughter has been kidnapped to keep them quiet.

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(by), (by) (as D.B.Wyndham Lewis) , 3 more credits »
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Title: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Leslie Banks ...
Edna Best ...
...
Frank Vosper ...
Ramon
Hugh Wakefield ...
Clive
Nova Pilbeam ...
Betty Lawrence
Pierre Fresnay ...
Cicely Oates ...
Nurse Agnes
D.A. Clarke-Smith ...
Binstead (as D.A.Clarke Smith)
George Curzon ...
Gibson
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Storyline

While holidaying in Switzerland, Lawrence and his wife Jill are asked by a dying friend, Louis Bernard, to get information hidden in his room to the British Consulate. They get the information, but when they deny having it, their daughter Betty is kidnapped. It turns out that Louis was a Foreign Office spy and the information has to do with the assassination of a foreign dignitary. Having managed to trace his daughter's kidnappers back to London, Lawrence learns that the assassination will take place during a concert at the Albert Hall. It is left to Jill, however, to stop the assassination. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Lord High Minister of Everything Sinister! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

15 April 1935 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El hombre que sabía demasiado  »

Box Office

Budget:

£40,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(British Acoustic Film Full Range Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Peter Lorre arrived in Great Britain, his first meeting with a British director was with Alfred Hitchcock. By smiling and laughing as Hitchcock talked, the director was unaware that Lorre, a Hungarian, had a limited command of the English language. Hitchcock subsequently decided to cast Lorre in The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), and the young thespian learned much of his part phonetically. See more »

Goofs

When Mr. Lawrence is waiting for the woman to bring in Betty, his hand with the cigarette switches positions in between shots. See more »

Quotes

Abbott: Tell her they may soon be leaving us. Leaving us for a long, long journey. How is it that Shakespeare says? "From which no traveler returns." Great poet.
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Foul Play (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Storm Clouds Cantata
(1934) (uncredited)
Music by Arthur Benjamin
Words by D.B. Wyndham-Lewis
Performed by London Symphony Orchestra
Under the direction of H. Wynn Reeves
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Interesting idea, not the best execution
6 August 2007 | by (Vulcan) – See all my reviews

Hitccock's first major release in the USA and Peter Lorre's first English-speaking role are two firsts scored by this 1934 thriller. This is, of course, also Hitchcock's first attempt to to make this film. His second, released in the mid-50s was more successful and better funded. This very British and relatively pithy film retains most of the character of Hitchcock's earlier efforts, but is lean and economical, with less camera play and simpler cinematography and pacing.

The acting is generally very good. Of the main cast, Nova Pilbeam, who plays the kidnapped daughter of Leslie Banks and Edna Best, is the only survivor today, at the age of 87. Most of the action centers on Banks,and he is fine, but (and I tend to think this is Hitchcock's doing) very emotionally compressed throughout the film. Banks' Bob Lawrence has a loving, flirty, wife (Best) and a delightful young daughter (Pilbeam). They are away on holiday in the alps when a new friend of their is shot dead while dancing with Best. As he dies, he passes along some information which creates the family's predicament. Lorre and his people kidnap young Pilbeam in exchange for Banks' silence, and he must then decide what to do. It seems that no matter what he does, his daughter is likely to die.

It is remarkable that Lorre did not even know what he was saying throughout most of this performance. The legendary actor, as usual, dominates all of his scenes and gives the film a creepy, psychotic feeling that would have been difficult to achieve without him.

The plot is a bit light on logic, but brisk, satisfyingly convoluted and entertaining. The script is OK, but often maintains too stiff an upper lip. A few opportunities for elaboration were missed - probably a limitation inherent in the original Wyndham Lewis story. I think it would have been interesting (and more credible) if the authorities had followed up on their knowledge that Banks knew something and trailed him throughout the film. This could have added an extra layer of potential suspense, mystery and obfuscation, since Best's heightened paranoia might have lead him to suspect all sorts of things about anybody keeping tabs on him.

Hitchcock definitely knew he had a potential gem here, and it is a credit to him that he revitalized the film with Jimmy Stewart in the 1950s - after establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with.

Worth seeing for Hitchcock fans and those interested in early British film as well as fans of the 1950s version. O/w only very mildly recommended.


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