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The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

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An American physician and his wife take matters into their own hands after assassins planning to execute a foreign Prime Minister kidnap their son.

Director:

Alfred Hitchcock

Writers:

John Michael Hayes (screenplay), Charles Bennett (based on a story by) | 1 more credit »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Stewart ... Dr. Benjamin McKenna
Doris Day ... Josephine Conway McKenna
Brenda de Banzie ... Lucy Drayton
Bernard Miles ... Edward Drayton
Ralph Truman Ralph Truman ... Inspector Buchanan, Special Branch
Daniel Gélin ... Louis Bernard
Mogens Wieth Mogens Wieth ... Ambassador
Alan Mowbray ... Val Parnell
Hillary Brooke ... Jan Peterson
Christopher Olsen ... Hank McKenna
Reggie Nalder ... French Marksman
Richard Wattis ... Albert Hall Assistant Manager
Noel Willman ... Woburn, Special Branch
Alix Talton ... Helen Parnell
Yves Brainville Yves Brainville ... French Police Inspector
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Storyline

While in London, for a medical convention, Dr Ben McKenna, his wife, Jo, a former singer, and their teenage son, Hank decide to take a quick trip to Marrakesh. Whilst there, hanks kidnapped by a British couple. A man, who the McKenna's had met the same day, is stabbed, in front of them, but before he dies, he tells Ben there's a plan to assassinate on a politician. Fearing for his son's safety, the McKenna's don't tell this to the police. As the he clock grows ever closer - to the l both the speed time of the assassination, and to dealt find Hank, the tension ratches up. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A little knowledge can be a deadly thing! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Arabic | French

Release Date:

1 June 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,500,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$8,190
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Albert Hall sequence lasts twelve minutes without a single word of dialogue, and consists of one hundred twenty-four shots. See more »

Goofs

The English police/Scotland Yard have an excellent reputation, but in this movie they act like they have no experience. More to the point, they didn't seem to recognize the expediency of a situation involving an international conspiracy to assassinate their Prime Minister and the related kidnapping of an American couple's child. Mr. Buchanan's assistant, in particular acted like it was his first day on the job. See more »

Quotes

Louis Bernard: [dying] A man... a statesman... is to be killed... assassinated in London. Soon... very soon. Tell them in London... tell them to try Ambrose Chapel...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: A single crash of Cymbals and how it rocked the lives of an American family. See more »

Alternate Versions

The original film opened with the Paramount logo followed by their patented wide screen process, Vista Vision. In the 80's, Universal re-issued the film with their logo, and dropped the reference to Vista Vision. The Blu-Ray edition retains the Paramount/Vista Vision logos at the start, but carries the 80's Universal logo at the end. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Les mercredis de l'histoire: Dark Side of the Moon (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Storm Cloud Cantata
(1934)
by Arthur Benjamin and D.B. Wyndham-Lewis
Performed by London Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by Bernard Herrmann
Orchestrated by Bernard Herrmann (uncredited)
Covent Garden Chorus and Barbara Howitt, soloist
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Remake Is Entertaining, But Not Deep
31 May 2011 | by slokesSee all my reviews

Alfred Hitchcock saw this remake of his 1934 film as a more professional job, and thus an improvement. It's certainly more polished, and pitched for maximum audience engagement, yet also a tad off the high standard the Master was setting for himself by the 1950s.

Dr. McKenna (James Stewart) and his wife Jo (Doris Day) are vacationing with their boy in Marrakesh when they become witnesses both to a murder and to a secret so dangerous their boy is kidnapped to secure their silence. Can they save their child by themselves? And will they be able to prevent the crime from happening without costing their son his life?

It's tough to discuss this movie, since so much that happens in it is better seen for the first time with minimal foreknowledge. Rest assured that there are some fine setpieces on display, and that Hitchcock is indeed very clever with his camera and his way of building suspense.

Yet the film seems less than completely successful. For one thing, there's an unusually slow build-up, almost a Hitchcock loyalty test, in the first thirty minutes of the film, with some particularly strained bits of comedy around a Moroccan restaurant. There are more than the usual number of plot holes and improbable coincidences on display here.

The biggest problem I have are with the two leads. While Day shows us she can be more than a perky comedienne in her more demanding scenes, both she and Stewart seem uncomfortable in their roles. The McKennas appear at times to be a singularly unhappy couple: he a domineering type who doesn't like the fact his wife was a famous singer known by something other than his last name; she a paranoid hysteric prone to winding her husband up unnecessarily. The idea of their domestic misery is gently presented ("Ben, are we about to have our monthly fight?") and then just as quickly abandoned, ironically after a scene where he arguably pulls a rather cruel stunt to keep her in line.

I'm not sure if this George-and-Martha-type film would have been better than the one I actually saw, but it would give us more of a rooting interest in the McKennas getting their act together while saving their son. Here, in the main, they are played so squarely they seem more likely to hail from Disneyland than Indianapolis.

But give the second hour credit for being one of Hitchcock's best. It could have used a bit more humor, but there's ample misdirection and a mischievous spirit guiding the proceedings. Add to that one of the great climaxes of any suspense film here, ironically not a climax here but a set up for another which is almost as good. The villains are appropriately seedy, if lacking the menacing charm of Peter Lorre in the 1934 version.

If you are a fan of Doris Day or her hit song "Que Sera, Sera," you may enjoy this film even more than I did. As a Hitchcock enthusiast, I was entertained enough not to mind the feeling of shallowness. Hitchcock was a master of surfaces as well as depth; you get a riveting example of the former here.


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