Alex P. (x3iv) from PEMBROKE, VA Reviewed on 1/30/2009...
One of the best Hitchcock movies going. This reviewer's favorite, actually. Jimmy Stewart and Hitchcock had a perfect formula going, Doris Day bring just enough bubble-gum pop stardom to the picture to make it feel almost ironic. Not that she doesn't act the part well; the characters needed to seem out of their element. A movie that would set the standard for many to come, should be seen by anybody who thinks Hitchcock's best and only work was "Psycho."
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HITCHCOCK'S "MAN" A "MASTER"PIECE
Paul Brogan | Portsmouth, NH United States | 10/30/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The "Master of Suspense", Alfred Hitchcock, hits another bullseye with his 1956 production of "The Man Who Knew Too Much". Purists have been known to complain that they prefer Hitchcock's original 1934 version of the story to the lavish, widescreen, color version starring James Stewart and Doris Day, but if viewed side by side, both films stand on their own as classic Hitchcock.The 1956 "Man" unfolds like a beautiful book, methodically, deliberately, and compellingly. Stewart plays an American doctor and Day is his wife, a retired singer. They are vacationing with their young son, Hank, in Morocco, when they become embroiled in an International incident involving a planned assasination. Their son is kidnapped and taken to London. Day and Stewart follow, where they attempt to get some answers and to locate their son, on their own, without the help offered by Scotland Yard. The film reaches it's exciting climax during a concert at Albert Hall in which Day suddenly realizes what is about to occur.Without giving away some of the intricate plot twists and turns, "The Man Who Knew Too Much" is like a breathtaking ride on a state of the art rollercoaster. You cannot help but get caught up in the plight of Stewart and Day.James Stewart and Doris Day seem like a real married couple, so easy and comfortable is their onscreen chemistry. They banter and interact convincingly but there is also a strong indication that there may be some tensions lurking beneath the outer veneer. Both actors play their roles with expertise and Day, in particular, shows range and versatility in her performance, being especially memorable in the justly celebrated Albert Hall scene and in an earlier scene when Stewart informs her that their son has been kidnapped. The growing realization as to what he is telling her is reflected in Day's facial reactions.Hitchcock has once again assembled a first-rate cast of supporting players including his long time musical collaborator, Bernard Herrmann, who appears onscreen for the first time, playing himself while conducting an original piece of music during the Albert Hall sequence. The team of Livingston and Evans composed a song for Day to sing to her son as part of the plot. The tune, "Whatever Will Be, Will Be"(Que Sera, Sera), became a megahit, selling millions of records, winning an Oscar as best song and becoming one of Day's signature tunes. It plays an intricate role in the storyline, being introduced naturally and being reprised as part of the picture's denouement.The queues that formed at box-offices all over the world when "The Man Who Knew Too Much" opened in the summer of 1956, were a tribute to the talents of Hitchcock, Day, and Stewart, and to the public's continuing fascination with quality entertainment. To this day, the film remains one of Hitchcock's best films from his 1950's period. A movie that is well worth viewing."
Edward Correll | Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Alfred Hitchcock's second version of one of his favorite stories is one of the best, most dramatic suspense films of all. It stars James Stewart and Doris Day as an American couple vacationing in Morocco whose young son is kidnapped to insure their silence when they discover an assassination plot. Moving his film from Africa to England, Hitchcock dazzles American eyes with beautiful and exotic locales while employing his trademark policy of allowing the viewers to know more than the characters know in order to keep suspense at its height. Boy, does that work! I have seen the film more than a dozen times and still can't stay off the edge of the seat. One of the greatest casting coups in Hitchcock history has Doris Day playing the anguished mother and wife of the man who knew too much, and although the story's title names the man, it is the wife's story all the way. She is the emotional center of the story; it is her intuitions, her suspicions, her deductions that propel the narrative, and Doris Day plays the part to a fare-thee-well offering a performance which sizzles through a gamut of emotions from the lighthearted fun of dueting with her little boy (to the by now standard, "Whatever Will Be Will Be") to the anguish of having to decide to try to stop the assassination even though it may cost her son's life. Day never makes a false move; her hysteria on learning of her son's kidnapping is a masterpiece of acting control and her anguish during the concert in the Albert Hall where the assassination is to take place is palpable to the viewer even though it is communicated only visually. This film is perfect Hitchcock and an extraordinary revelation of Doris Day to those who know her only as a comedienne. I might add that when Queen Elizabeth knighted Sir Alfred, he chose the Albert Hall sequence from this film to be the capstone of the film excerpts presented at the ceremony."
Classic Hitchcock touch in well thoughtout thriller
Simon Davis | 04/14/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I always enjoy Alfred Hitchcock's work and when he casts actresses against their normal "type" the results are usually very pleasing. It is never more evident than in his casting "against type" of Doris Day in one of my favourite later films by this legendary director, "The Man Who Knew Too Much". Hitchcock's 1956 remake of his own 1934 feature was a way for him to right some of the supposed short falls that he felt remained in the original which he was never totally happy with. Here he has updated the story and while not his best work it makes an engrossing and thrilling film to watch with its many twists and turns and unexpected red herrings thrown in.The casting of James Stewart and Doris Day in the leads was inspired and while some reviewers have complained about Doris Day being miscast in this role I believe she does an excellent job and in her career had often played women under a great deal of distress as seen in films like "Julie", and "Midnight Lace". "The Man Who Knew Too Much", relates the story of an American couple holidaying in Morocco after the doctor husband has attended a medical conference inParis. Once there they find themselves unknowingly involved in an elaborate assassination attempt to take place at a later date in London. Learning more than they want to about those involved, they find themselves the helpless targets of those wishing them to keep quiet about what they now know which results in their son being kidnapped and taken off to London to ensure the couples silence or else. The story climaxes in London where the two have gone in a desperate effort to uncover where their son is being held. The London sequences build to the climax to the story whereby it is revealed that the assassination attempt will take place during a performance at Royal Albert Hall and it becomes a race against time for the harrassed couple to save the targeted diplomat while still ensuring the safety of their captive son. The climax that takes place during the performance which is performed without any dialogue at all really is riverting Hitchcock at his very best and is one of Doris Day's finest moments as an actress.The chemistry between James Stewart and Doris Day is wonderful and they make a very believable couple both in the beginning when they are ordinary tourists and then when the action shifts to where they find themselves hunting down the kidnappers and trying to foil the assassin. Doris indeed has a field day in the role as the anguished mother not knowing who she can trust, and her signature tune of "Que Sera Sera", also was especially created for this film. It figures importantly in the plot during the sequences when they are rescuing their son. Doris Day originally was very unimpressed with the lyrics of this song and wanted something else used in the story but as she admitted herself in her wonderful autobiography "Doris Day: Her Own Story", she was never more wrong about anything in her life and it not only became her signature tune but went on to win the Academy Award for best song that year.The supporting cast help also to add weight to the dramatic proceedings and first and foremost the mysterious Drayton couple played by Brenda de Banzie and especially Bernard Miles are superb. Miles becomes a master of disguise throughtout the story turning from jovial tourist, to preacher, to accomplise to an assassin to great effect. It succeeds in keeping not only the worried parents but also us as the viewers wondering just who is to be trusted, what is actually real, and what will possibly happen next to surprise us. These twists and turns are the earmarks of a good thriller and here as the action accelerates Hitchcock does not disappoint us. Another strength in this story are the wonderful visuals provided by great on location photography in both Morocco and London. According to reports it was not an easy shoot for any members of the crew in particular during the Morocco sequences. The effort however was worth it as these locations add tremendously to the overall sense of mystery and danger in the story resulting in the interest in what is happening never letting up. This Hitchcock thriller provides a very non-traditional role for Doris Day to tackle but it's one of her more appealing pieces of work in my opinion. Made just prior to her great success in the "bedroom comedies" such as the classic "Pillow Talk" it showed her dramatic talents like no other film has. If you love a good mystery with good acting, strong direction and eye popping locales then you can't go past Alfred Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much"."
The philosopher | Mass. | 07/14/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This film is great fun. It sets up its exotic North African locale effectively from the beginning, and Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day (as Dr. and Mrs. McKenna) have a strong rapport as a couple traveling with their young son. The movie quickly puts you on edge, as you sense that things are not as they seem and that this family is getting embroiled into some unknown but sinister events. As the plot unfolds and their predicament becomes clearer, the suspense ratchets up in a series of great, anguished scenes in the police office (as Stewart nervously flips the pages of a book while listening to a phone conversation about his endangered son) and the hotel (with Doris Day's pitch-perfect scene in which she finds out that their son has been kidnapped). As the story shifts to London, we have the wonderful "Chappell's Taxidermy" scene and other gems that lead to the justly famous climax at Albert's Hall. There Hitchcock effectively uses dramatic music and acting to let the suspense SLOWLY build to a fever pitch. Part of what makes this scene so stunning is the stillness that prevails during most of it. We know what is coming, but nobody seems able to stop it. Most directors today would try to throw in a bunch of gunplay, explosions, and chases but would end up with something that would not be in the least bit suspenseful.Although the last part of the film still is entertaining, it seems somewhat anti-climactic after the scene in Albert Hall, and the film ends rather abruptly with a scene played for laughs that needs more breathing space to be effective. The plot seems to hang together well except for one glaring exception: how did the three criminals manage to take over the church in London and have a thriving congregation? Also, and this is a minor point, the first scene with "Que Sera Sera" seems rather stagey, as if part of Mary Poppins or the Sound of Music somehow got mistakenly inserted into this film. Finally, the colors are rather garish. Let's hope that a remastering will take place soon.All carping aside, this is a gripping film. Doris Day offers a heartfelt, emotional performance and Jimmy Stewart is wonderful as always."