Tuesday, February 1, 2011

REVIEW: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

The Man Who Knew Too Much. (1956) Dir: Alfred Hitchcock. Starring: James Stewart, Doris Day. PG. DVD. IMDB.

Awhile back, my husband and I lined up a bunch of Hitchcock films on our Netflix queue with an eye to making a project of watching a bunch of them as a kind of mini film class. It's been fun, and we're about halfway through our list. The Man Who Knew Too Much isn't my favorite, and it isn't my least favorite; the story of a couple whose child is abducted in Morocco as part of a plot to assassinate a nearly anonymous political figure seemed pretty by-the-numbers for me.

Stewart and Day are fun as the McKennas, a fractious married couple on vacation, he a respected Midwestern doctor and she a retired New York stage star. Their marriage has some issues; she longs for a return to New York while he complains that that would be awfully far for his patients to travel from Indianapolis.  They meet a friendly Frenchman on a bus, who, like many Europeans in Hitchcock films, has a hidden agenda. I wonder sometimes if American anti-European attitudes weren't in part influenced by the stream of shady accented men presented in his films, but that's another topic for another day. Anyway they meet the Draytons, another European couple at their hotel who are also in on the plot. The action moves to London as the McKennas pursue their son's kidnappers.

I think what I enjoyed most about The Man Who Knew Too Much were the little bits of comedy- the repartee between Stewart and Day, their clueless London friends and the silly final scene. And Day's singing, which is funny even though it's probably not supposed to be. The suspense is as light as the comedy. The contrast between the two couples is interesting; the McKennas are often at odds, bickering and even splitting up at different points in the movie but they come together in the end. The Draytons, on the other hand, function almost as a single unit but fall apart when push comes to shove.  On balance I'd say The Man Who Knew Too Much was a fine evening's viewing but probably a minor Hitchcock overall.

Rating: RENT

1 comment:

  1. I love Hitchcock movies!! This one is where Doris Day's song, "Que Sera, Sera" is first heard!! I love movie marathon's like this on Netflix! I love having access to these GREAT older movies!! On my list is a James Garner marathon!!

    So which Hitchcock movies was your favorite?? Im still a big Dial M for Murder fan!! and second would be Rear Window!!