The Man Who Knew Too Much (1935)
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Critic Reviews for The Man Who Knew Too Much
The story is told in sharp, abbreviated sequences gathering speed steadily toward their explosive climax, makes The Man Who Knew Too Much one of the neatest melodramas of the year.
Although the film is fast and consistently clever, it is more deeply flawed than any other Hitchcock film of the period, failing to find a thematic connection between its imaginative set pieces.
An unusually fine dramatic story handled excellently from a production standpoint.
Directed with a fascinating staccato violence by Alfred Hitchcock, it is the swiftest screen melodrama this column can recall.
Vintage Hitchcock, with sheer wit and verve masking an implausible plot.
Audience Reviews for The Man Who Knew Too Much
Thoroughly English in DNA and execution, this early Hitchcock presents a unusual couple who find themselves embroiled into some kind of mysterious and insidious spy plot. Peter Lorre is our Germanic bad guy whose politeness comes and goes erratically and is truly menacing for that. The set-up for the action involved is as questionable as it comes, but the payoff, a gunfight in downtown London, is worth the price of admission alone. As well, this work, along with Jamaica Inn, cements my growing suspicion that Hitch's best was his earlier stuff.
Hitchcock was still learning his craft and improving his directing skills when he made this unimpressive and thematically flawed film that even he disliked - and the humor eliminates most of the tension while the weak script has villains whose motivations are never really clear.
This is basically the film that really saw Hitchcock's film career take off and become something grand. It has his real breakout hit, and even had the distinction of being remade (by Hitchh imself), in a version that a number of people say is far superior. I haven't seen that one yet, but I plan to. The plot concerns a man who, after learning of some dire news concerning an upcoming assassination, finds his daughter kidnapped by some people who witnessed him learning of their diabolical plot. The film then shifts to him trying ot rescue his daughter on his own as well as to stop the planned killing from taking pace. This is fast paced and familiar Hitch, but it all a lot of fun, and pretty well done. For what it's worth, it also features the English language debut of Peter Lorre, and he does quite a decent job here. All in all, this is a pretty decent way to spend 75 minutes, and there's a lot of good set pieces and moments that amp up the suspense and entertainment value. Give it a go.
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