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 film finished production thirty-seven days behind schedule, including six shutdown days. Paramount internal memos show that the film went well over its original budget, costing $1,834,000, exclusive of the stars' and director's salaries. See more »
When Hank is being taken by his kidnappers from the chapel to the embassy, the group gets in a left-hand drive large 1953 Humber Mark IV Super Snipe on a Hollywood sound stage. The pretend driver enters on the right, but the supposed front seat passenger can be seen releasing the handbrake, and holding the steering wheel. The car's exhaust sound also does not match the Humber. In the second scene later, the same car enters the embassy rear gate, also on a Hollywood sound stage, and the car can be seen as having red seats. In the next cut, the car pulls up at the rear of the embassy, and Hank and the kidnappers exit. The car has now become a smaller and earlier 1951 Humber Mark IV Hawk, with tan seats, filmed on location in London, although both cars show the same registration number. See more »
Remember, you will only have time for just one shot. If you need another, the risk is yours.
I don't take risks.
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Opening credits prologue: A single crash of Cymbals and how it rocked the lives of an American family. See more »
All the trademark Hitchcock elements are in place yet again, for a wonderful example of crowd-pleasing from the man who knew better than anyone just how to work an audience. James Stewart, everyone's perfect everyman returns to familiar ground, with the perfect wife (Doris Day, perfect casting), and perfect family. Into this chocolate box world is thrown some dangerous information, and a downward spiral of kidnap and murder.
As usual, there are the elaborately staged set-pieces, and the intimate psychoanalysis that you would expect. Here, the assassination sequence in the Royal Albert Hall provides the former - a beautifully choreographed blend of music and images building to the pivotal crash of cymbals, and the scenes in Morocco the latter, as our couple become obliviously embroiled in international espionage. It is hard to find fault with any of Hitchcock's contrivances (using the Oscar-winning 'Whatever Will Be' as a plot device to get Doris singing is almost too much, but forgivable), and the the whole cast are superb, giving incredibly naturalistic performances - see the scene in the Moroccan restaurant, which almost seems ad-libbed.
One of Hitchcock's best.
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