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The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Not Rated | | Crime, Mystery, Thriller | 15 April 1935 (USA)
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.

Director:

Alfred Hitchcock

Writers:

Charles Bennett (by), D.B. Wyndham-Lewis (by) (as D.B. Wyndham Lewis) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Leslie Banks ... Bob Lawrence
Edna Best ... Jill Lawrence
Peter Lorre ... Abbott
Frank Vosper ... Ramon Levine
Hugh Wakefield ... Clive
Nova Pilbeam ... Betty Lawrence
Pierre Fresnay ... Louis Bernard
Cicely Oates ... Nurse Agnes
D.A. Clarke-Smith D.A. Clarke-Smith ... Binstead (as D.A. Clarke Smith)
George Curzon 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:

Public Enemy No. 1 of all the world... See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German | Italian | French

Release Date:

15 April 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El hombre que sabía demasiado See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£40,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (British Acoustic Film Full Range Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Apart from the opening and end credits, there is only source music in this film, i.e., music that can be heard by the characters, such as dance music in Switzerland and Wapping and the Benjamin cantata (with the rest of the concert on the radio). There is no underscoring music at all. See more »

Goofs

When the two police officers are preparing to shoot out the window, the blind suddenly goes up even though neither man had touched it. See more »

Quotes

Abbott: The arm of the English law needed help in taking our friend to the station - very, very reluctantly. I've given him in charge.
Nurse Agnes: For disorderly conduct in a sacred edifice.
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

Original v. Remake?
14 July 2006 | by malvernpSee all my reviews

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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