Brittany Runs a Marathon
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It’s enjoyable for the most part
Peter Lorre is amazing in amazing in everything he's in and this is no exception. This is probably Alfred Hitchock's earliest masterpirece and one of his greatest casting choice.
Almost right from the beginning, The Man Who Knew Too Much throws you into a world of suspense and danger. It's a compelling story, and Hitchcock directs it in a way that keeps you on the edge of your seat. The climactic finale doesn't quite live up to the rest of the movie, but it's one of the great films of its time.
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.
Good, but not great, early Htichcock. Some what dated and clunky at times, but the suspense is well measured and all round decent performances from the cast. Lorre is somewhat understated, though still deliveries the usual creepy menace. As others noted, there is a element of flippancy throughout that at times is amusing and at others is rather discordant with the events transpiring. Worth watching if you have the interest.
Albeit a bit frantic at the start and clumsily overdrawn at its conclusion, Hitch's visual imagination is in top form throughout, and once the story gets moving (and before the principle drama comes to an end), the tension remains high and the pacing thrilling.
I can see why Hitchcock wanted to have another run at this many years later, because it's a good concept that doesn't get properly served here: the performances are superstiff and it all feels very rushed and disjointed. Interesting though to see some early Hitch shots, and the chair fight is fun.
Lacks character depth, and too much vague storytelling not to mention odd use of humour for which was supposed to be a serious film.
While it may be worth noting that the remake is superior, the original The Man Who Knew Too Much is nonetheless an excellent exercise in suspense and tension and features what may be the most unrestrained finale in Hitchcock's exceptional filmography.
8.5 out of 10:
It may be short and slow, but it's still well acted and well shot, and some impressive sets as well.