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: Conductor plays himself on-screen. Walking to the Albert Hall, Josephine McKann passes by a billboard naming the conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, and the mezzo-soprano soloist Barbara Howitt of the Covent Garden Opera Chorus. Both are in opening credits for the "Cantata Storm Clouds". This movie may be the only surviving movie of the (uncredited) Orchestra's Leader, violinist George Stratton, and Principal Cello Dennis Nisbett. See more »
When the McKennas are riding to their hotel in the horse-drawn wagon after getting off the bus, the shadows are mismatched between the foreground and the back-projected scene. In the foreground, the shadows are on the left of the characters, as if the sun is on the right of the frame; in the back-projection, the shadows are on the right of the cars, as if the sun is on the left of the frame. See more »
Dr. Ben McKenna:
[after the inspector grills the Mckennas with questions based on his own assumptions]
Boy! You not only ask the questions, you answer them too. Don't you?
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Partly because the rights to this film were acquired from Paramount by Universal, the Paramount VistaVision fanfare is played over the opening Universal logo. This is the way it is currently (2005) shown on television in the re-release version (1984). See more »
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 »
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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