A man in London tries to help a counter-espionage Agent. But when the Agent is killed, and the man stands accused, he must go on the run to save himself and stop a spy ring which is trying to steal top secret information.
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
There is a long-standing tradition in film for someone to come along at a later time and feel moved to remake a movie now considered a classic.
In many cases, the remake is really nothing more than an homage to the earlier version----perhaps updated to reflect the use of color and employment of some subsequent technical advances---but with little else to offer. "Prisoner of Zenda" (1952) and the recent "Psycho" come to mind as examples of such productions.
Occasionally, the creator of the earlier film feels inspired to try to improve upon it himself. This by no means ensures success. Compare Frank Capra's "Lady for a Day" (1934) with his "Pocketful of Miracles." ((1951) On the other hand, many believe that DeMille's "Ten Commandments" (1956) is better in its story telling than his silent version made in 1923.
So much has been written about the two versions of "Man Who Knew Too Much" that there is very little one can add that hasn't been said before. Having seen them recently back-to-back, my personal opinion is that they are both flawed---but in different ways. The earlier film is quaintly primitive---particularly in matters involving continuity, use of sound, editing and other technical issues. On the other hand, the later version seems excessively padded with much extraneous material, has a male juvenile actor who is quite inferior to Nova Pilbeam in the original and has villains who lack the unique menace of Peter Lorre---with his rare combination of subtle humor, wit and terror.
In the end, the viewer is left with a sort of Hobson's Choice. Hitchcock himself said that the earlier work was that of a skilled amateur while the latter was the effort of a seasoned professional. No doubt in many ways he is right.
But there is something to be said about the sheer originality and power of a first effort----flawed though it may be. "Citizen Kane" was also the product of a skilled amateur. Could a more mature Orson Welles have improved upon it even with its flaws?
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