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The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Film-Noir, Mystery  |  15 April 1935 (USA)
6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 11,543 users  
Reviews: 95 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
...
Cicely Oates ...
Nurse Agnes
D.A. Clarke-Smith ...
Binstead (as D.A.Clarke Smith)
George Curzon ...
Gibson
Edit

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

The logo for Gaumont British Pictures is located on a scarf worn by Leslie Banks during the opening scene. See more »

Goofs

(at around 21 mins) When Bob Lawrence and his daughter exit the chalet porch to watch the trap shoot, Bob pushes the left door outwards. When the camera cuts to an outside view of their leaving the building, it's the other door that is swinging shut, and it is closing from the inside. 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

Referenced in Monitor: Huw Wheldon Meets Alfred Hitchcock (1964) 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

 
Hitch and the "Anarchist Revolt" of 1911 in London
2 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

In the novel, THE SECRET AGENT, Joseph Conrad had dissected the world of anarchists, double agents and spies, and police in the East End of London of 1894, the year that an attempt to destroy the Greenwich Observatory occurred. Alfred Hitchcock used Conrad's novel for his film SABOTAGE in 1936. But two years earlier he did the film THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. It was the first of two films in which Peter Lorre was directed by him. It was also the only one of his movies that he remade complete with title. But he decided to use the film to film a scene from British criminal history - the January 1911 "Siege of Sidney Street".

There had been an incident in December 1910 when several Russian aliens were involved in a burglary in Houndsditch. The proceeds of their robberies (aside from supporting themselves) helped fund anti-Tsarist activities in Russia. They killed three constables in making their escape from the shop. They were eventually tracked down to a house on Sidney Street, and fired at the police who tried to get them to surrender. The Home Secretary of the day (a politician named Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill) sent out troops, sharp shooters, and artillery. The cannon set the house on fire, and the men found inside were found to be dead. The best account of the event is Donald Rumbelow's THE SIEGE OF SIDNEY STREET called THE HOUNDSDITCH MURDERS in Great Britain.

Here, instead of radicals (called anarchists in 1911) we have foreign conspirators planning an assassination in London of a foreign head of state. Peter Lorre is the leader. Leslie Banks and his family are on vacation to Switzerland. Banks witnesses the murder of a Frenchman (Pierre Fresney, a great French star of the period - this English film is a rarity for him). Fresney reveals the assassination plot to Banks, and Lorre and his associates kidnap his daughter (Nora Pilbeam) to keep his mouth shut. But the police are aware that he heard something from Fresney, and try to pressure him to talk.

So we watch Banks try to track down his daughter (and get captured himself) while his wife goes to the Albert Hall to see what she can do.

The finale of the film is based on the Siege - with some exceptions (one of the bobbies in the Houndsditch tragedy is shot and killed in the start of the movie's version of the incident). But Hitchcock maintains the suspense to the end, when the last villain is taken care of.

It's an interesting film - not a great one. And it is somewhat different from the 1956 remake.


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