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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 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:

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)

Gross USA:

$10,250,000
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

The Albert Hall sequence drew some inspiration from Henry Mayo Bateman's comic "The One-Note Man", which followed the daily life of a musician who only plays one note in a symphony, similar to the cymbal player in this movie. See more »

Goofs

When Ben is looking at the sleeping Jo, his shadow can be seen clearly on the wall. There would have to be a strong light source behind him for this, but there is none - only the bedside table lamps. 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 Victim of Love (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

We'll Love Again
(1956)
by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans
Performed by Doris Day (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The master of thrills delivers another thrilling masterwork....almost
9 December 2004 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

Alfred Hitchcock's more assured telling of a film he made twenty-one years earlier is infinitely superior to the original. Hitchcock said himself that his first version was the work of an amateur, and although it certainly isn't a bad film, he does appear to be right. That being said, this remake, although definitely better, still isn't among Hitchcock's best work. That's certainly not to say that it isn't good, it's just more than a little overindulgent, and that drags it down. Hitchcock seems all too keen to drag certain elements out, and these are parts of the film that aren't entirely relevant to the plot, which can become annoying. Some of these dragged out sequences, such as the one that sees James Stewart and Doris Day eating in a Moroccan restaurant are good because it helps establish the different culture that our American protagonists have found themselves in, but for every restaurant scene, there's an opera sequence and it's the latter that make the film worse.

The plot follows a middle-aged doctor and his wife that go to Morocco for a holiday with their young son. While there, they meet a French man on the bus and another middle-aged couple in a restaurant. However, things go awry when the French man dies from a knife in the back, shortly after whispering something to the doctor. The holiday then turns into a full blown nightmare when the couple's son is kidnapped, which causes them to cut it short and go to London in order to try and find him. The film has a very potent degree of paranoia about it, and it manages to hold this all the way through. In fact, I would even go as far as to say that this is the most paranoid film that Hitchcock ever made. Like most of Hitchcock's films, this one is very thrilling and keeps you on the edge of your seat for almost the entire duration, with only the aforementioned opera sequence standing out as a moment in which the tension is diffused. There is also more than a little humour in the movie, which gives lighthearted relief to the morbid goings on, and actually works quite well.

The original version of this story was lent excellent support by the fantastic Peter Lorre. This film doesn't benefit from his presence, unfortunately, but that is made up for by performances from the amazing James Stewart, and Doris Day. James Stewart is a man that is always going to be a contender for the 'greatest actor of all time' crown. His collaborations with Hitchcock all feature mesmerising performances from him, and this one is no different. (Although his best performance remains the one in Mr Smith Goes to Washington). Stewart conveys all the courage, conviction and heartbreak of a man that has lost his child and would do anything to get him back brilliantly. In fact, that's one of the best things about this film; you are really able to feel for the couple's loss throughout and that serves in making it all the more thrilling. Doris Day, on the other hand, is a rather strange casting choice for this movie. She's definitely a good actress, but she's more associated with musicals and seeing her in a thriller is rather odd (even if she does get to flex her vocal chords a little).

As I've mentioned; this is not Hitchcock's best film, but there's much to enjoy about it and although I'd recommend many Hitchcock films before recommending this one, I'll definitely give it two thumbs up as well.


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