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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 »
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4,640 ( 989)
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 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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Alfred Hitchcock strikes the highest note of suspense the screen has yet achieved! 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

Show more on IMDbPro »

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

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

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?
See more »

Crazy Credits

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 »

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 'Torn Curtain' Rising (2000) See more »

Soundtracks

Whatever Will Be
(1956)
by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
Performed by Doris Day (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Perfect.
18 December 2002 | by sibisi73See all my reviews

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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