A French intelligence agent becomes embroiled in the Cold War politics first with uncovering the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis, and then back to France to break up an international Russian spy ring.
While attending a medical conference in Paris, American physician Dr. Ben McKenna, his wife, retired musical theater actress and singer Jo McKenna née Conway, and their adolescent son Hank McKenna decide to take a side trip to among other places Marrekesh, French Morocco. With a knife plunged into his back, Frenchman Louis Bernard, who the family met earlier in their bus ride into Marrakesh and who is now masquerading as an Arab, approaches Ben, cryptically whispering into Ben's ears that there will be an attempted assassination in London of a statesman, this news whispered just before Bernard dies. Ben is reluctant to provide any information of this news to the authorities because concurrently Hank is kidnapped by British couple, Edward and Lucy Drayton, who also befriended the McKennas in Marrakesh and who probably have taken Hank out of the country back to England. Whoever the unknown people the Draytons are working for have threatened to kill Hank if Ben divulges any information ... Written by
The plot calls for a man (Daniel Gélin in the role of Louis Bernard) to be discovered as "not Moroccan" because he was wearing black makeup. The makeup artists couldn't find a black substance that would come off easily, and so they painted the fingers of the other man (James Stewart) white, so that he would leave pale streaks on the other man's skin (according to Patricia Hitchcock, this idea was suggested by Daniel Gélin). See more »
When the McKennas are riding to their hotel in the horse-drawn wagon after getting off the bus, the shadows are mismatched between the foreground and the back-projected scene. In the foreground, the shadows are on the left of the characters, as if the sun is on the right of the frame; in the back-projection, the shadows are on the right of the cars, as if the sun is on the left of the frame. See more »
Both versions of Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much" have their strong points, and are well worth watching. This 1950's remake is carried mostly by its star power, with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day being convincing and very sympathetic as the parents of the kidnapped child. It also has more lavish settings and better (not just because it is color) photography than the earlier version. On the other hand, it lacks the wittiness of the British version, and moves more slowly.
The remake spends much more time setting up the story than the original did, with the family spending a lot of time on their vacation in Morocco before the crisis occurs. It makes possible some colorful scenery and settings, and allows you to get to know the family a bit more, although the quicker pace in the original established more tension and kept your attention throughout. The Albert Hall sequence works well in both films, with this one having the added bonus of allowing the audience to see Bernard Herrmann, who wrote so many great scores for Hitchcock's films, conducting the orchestra.
Despite having essentially the same story, the two versions of "The Man Who Knew Too Much" have a much different feel. Which one you prefer is largely a matter of taste - while neither is usually considered among Hitchcock's very best, they are both good movies with a lot of strong points. Take a look at both if you have the chance.
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