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
Bernard Herrmann was given the option of composing a new cantata to be performed during the film's climax. However, he found Arthur Benjamin's cantata Storm Clouds from the original The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) to be so well suited to the film that he declined, although he did expand the orchestration, and insert several repeats to make the sequence longer. Herrmann can be seen conducting the London Symphony Orchestra and singers during the Royal Albert Hall scenes. See more »
On their first morning in London, McKenna leaves a taxi and walks down a quiet residential street and stops at the next corner. Four or five camera shots were taken as he slowly walked down the street. In the first three or four shots the shadow of the buildings along the block extended across the sidewalk to about three feet into the street. But in the final scene at the corner the shadows were gone. See more »
Not one of my favorite Hitchcock movies, but worth seeing.
I'm not sure why I didn't have a more enthusiastic reaction to The Man Who Knew Too Much. Hitchcock is the director that got me interested in classic cinema, and Rear Window, Notorious, Psycho, The Birds, Rebecca, and The Lady Vanishes are all among my favorite movies. It's a globe-trotting adventure with all the tension, intrigue, assassinations, conspiracies, and suspense you could want, but there's something about it that just didn't really catch my interest until the last 30 minutes, or so. The ending is great, but the rest of the movie was just missing something, in my opinion.
The problem certainly wasn't with the two lead actors. James Stewart gave another great performance under Hitchcock's eye (he was my favorite Hitchcock leading man), and Doris Day was charmingly determined and convincing as a confused wife and mother, desperately searching for her son.
The Man Who Knew Too Much certainly isn't a bad movie (is there such a thing as a bad Hitchcock movie?), and I expect that other people might have a more favorable response to it than I did. I suspect this is just one of those times when a good film just doesn't completely "click", with me, for whatever reason. I recommend it to anyone who is interested, though.
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