The Man Who Knew Too Much


The Man Who Knew Too Much

Critics Consensus

Remaking his own 1934 film, Hitchcock imbues The Man Who Knew Too Much with picturesque locales and international intrigue, and is helped by a brilliantly befuddled performance from James Stewart.



Total Count: 33


Audience Score

User Ratings: 33,956
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The Man Who Knew Too Much Photos

Movie Info

The debate still rages as to whether Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much is superior to his own original 1934 version. This two-hour remake (45 minutes longer than the first film) features more stars, a lusher budget, and the plaintive music of Bernard Herrmann (who appears on-camera, typecast as a symphony conductor). Though the locale of the opening scenes shifts from Switzerland to French Morocco in the newer version, the basic plot remains the same. American tourists James Stewart and Doris Day are witness to the street killing of a Frenchman (Daniel Gelin) they've recently befriended. Before breathing his last, the murder victim whispers a secret to Stewart (the Cinemascope lens turns this standard closeup into a truly grotesque vignette). Stewart knows that a political assassination will occur during a concert at London's Albert Hall, but is unable to tell the police: his son (a daughter in the original) has been kidnapped by foreign agents to insure Stewart's silence. The original script for Man Who Knew too Much was expanded and updated by John Michael Hayes and Angus McPhail. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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James Stewart
as Dr. Benjamin 'Ben' McKenna
Doris Day
as Josephine Conway 'Jo' McKenna
Brenda De Banzie
as Lucy Drayton
Bernard Miles
as Edward Drayton
Ralph Truman
as Inspector Buchanan
Daniel Gélin
as Louis Bernard
Mogens Wieth
as Ambassador
Alan Mowbray
as Val Parnell
Hillary Brooke
as Jan Peterson
Christopher Olsen
as Hank McKenna
Reggie Nalder
as Rien the assassin
Richard Wattis
as Assistant Manager
Alix Talton
as Helen Parnell
Yves Brainville
as Police Inspector
Carolyn Jones
as Cindy Fontaine
Leo Gordon
as Chauffeur
Pat Aherne
as English Handyman
Louis Mercier
as French Police
Anthony Warde
as French Police
Lewis Martin
as Detective
Gladys Holland
as Bernard's Girlfriend
John O'Malley
as Uniformed Attendant
Peter Camlin
as Headwaiter
Albert Carrier
as French Policeman
Ralph Heff
as Henchman
Eric Snowden
as Special Branch Officer
Edward Manouk
as French Waiter
Donald Lawton
as Desk Clerk
Patrick Whyte
as Special Branch Officer
Allen Zeidman
as Assistant Manager
Frank Atkinson
as Workmen in Taxidermist Shop
Liddell Peddieson
as Workmen in Taxidermist Shop
Mayne Lynton
as Workmen in Taxidermist Shop
Patrick Aherne
as English Handyman
John Barrard
as Workmen in Taxidermist Shop
Alexis Bobrinskoy
as Foreign Prime Minister
Janet Bruce
as Box Office Woman
Naida Buckingham
as Lady in the Audience
Clifford Buckton
as Sir Kenneth Clarke
Barbara Burke
as Girlfriend of the Assassin
Pauline Farr
as Ambassador's Wife
Harry Fine
as Edington
Wolfgang Preiss
as Aide to Foreign Prime Minister
Bernard Herrmann
as The Orchestra Conductor
George Howe
as Ambrose Chappell Sr.
Barry Keegan
as Patterson
Lloyd Lamble
as General Manager of Albert Hall
Enid Lindsey
as Lady Clarke
Janet Macfarlane
as Lady in Audience
Leslie Newport
as Inspector at Albert Hall
Elsa Palmer
as Woman Cook
Arthur Ridley
as Ticket Collector
Alma Taylor
as Box Office Woman
Guy Verney
as Footman
Peter Williams
as Police Sergeant
Richard Wordsworth
as Ambrose Chappell Jr.
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Critic Reviews for The Man Who Knew Too Much

All Critics (33) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for The Man Who Knew Too Much

  • Jan 17, 2017
    Has excellent moments but also a few implausible scenes. Nonetheless, performances are super and Hitchcock lovers won't be disappointed.
    Aldo G Super Reviewer
  • Mar 22, 2014
    I'm telling you people, this man just knew way too much... probably because he's already done this before. Yeah, it's not like this happens all that much, but it's trippy something awful whenever a filmmaker does, in fact, remake his own film, especially when it's kind of an inconsequential-seeming remake. I mean, come on, Alfred Hitchcock, you big wimp, when Cecil B. DeMille revisited "The Ten Commandments", he took a silent film and pumped up the budget, length and overall scale overwhelmingly. Granted, this remake really changes up the tone, setting and certain plot points, so it pretty much is overwhelmingly different, but the fact of the matter is that Hitch could have turned this mama into one heck of an epic, and let me tell you right now that it's... probably a good thing that he didn't. Yeah, this is just about a guy getting wrapped up in some murder plot (Jeez, are we sure that this is Hitchcock's only remake of "The Man Who Knew Too Much"?), so I don't know what this remake has to say that the first one didn't... I reckon because I didn't see the original. Yeah, folks, the quality of this film in comparison to its source material is mighty debatable, but if nothing else can be agreed upon, it's that people remember this version better, either because the dirty secret of the film industry is that people really do prefer younger films, or because debuted Doris Day's "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)". Oh, well, it must be the latter, because that song is pretty much more famous than any interpretation of this subject matter, but this film is pretty good, even though it couldn't quite clean up certain problems this time around. It's not talked about much, but with this film, in a lot of areas, Alfred Hitchcock really started to show progress in the evolution of his audacity as a dramatic storyteller, and such effectiveness, not in visceral tension, but in dramatic tension really drives the final product, yet there are those times in which Hitchcock seems to be pulling back, slipping into certain classic Hollywood dramatic superficialities that would be easier to forgive if they didn't mark a certain tonal unevenness. At the very least, the tonal inconsistencies make it a little difficult to buy into the morally pressing and thematically weighty storytelling elements that the dramatic establishes so firmly so often, and it doesn't help that momentum goes shaken by times in which the film jars its focus upon plotting segments of relatively less urgency that overstay their welcome. Yes, the unevenness really thrives on certain segments' sticking around for too long to be easily brushed off by focal shifts, and for this, a lot of blame must be placed on the film's length of exactly two hours, which is reasonable, but still rather questionable, as John Michael Hayes' and Angus MacPhail's script gets to be a touch excessive with its material and filler, much of which is not simply repetitious, but lacking in kick by its own individual right. I wouldn't say that there a lot of natural shortcomings to this film, as this story concept is consistently meaty enough for the final product to be relatively easily interpreted into a consistently meaty drama, but if there a lulls to momentum on paper, then the execution stresses them with moments of limpness to a usually firm grip on tonal and structural tightness. If nothing else places bumps upon this film's dramatic path, it's simply the conventions, because no matter how refreshing this film is in plenty of areas as a drama that could very well have been a fair distance ahead of its time, when it hits tropes, it hits them hard enough to plague the complex narrative with hints of predictability. This familiarity, like the other flaws, does not devastate the full bite of the drama, but also like its fellow shortcomings, it softens teeth enough for you to feel as though some potential goes unfulfilled, occasionally to the point of establishing glimpses into an underwhelming affair. Of course, make no mistake, I really do stress, "occasionally", for although the film has lapses in momentum, it engrosses much more often than it doesn't, and even appeals visually. Though not as reliant on visual style as certain other Alfred Hitchcock dramas of this much thoughtful delicacy, this film is still quite the looker, with frequent Hitchcock collaborator Robert Burks delivering on subtly and handsomely gritty coloration that catches your eyes and the somewhat bleak tone of the thriller, while fine framing helps in immersing you. Aesthetically, the immersion value is particularly worthy, as the film's Morocco setting feels distinguished as visual style brings life to it and firmly catches your attention with style, while substance secures your investment. Even in concept, the film's narrative, heavier and juicier than the story of its source material, engrosses with conflicts surrounding grand conspiracy and intimate mystery which goes anchored by human themes, until you're left with a thoroughly promising dramatic story that John Michael Hayes and Angus MacPhail both shake and do justice with a script that, despite its unevenness, excessiveness and conventions, delivers on clever dialogue and thoughtful, extensive exposition whose layered depth captures a sense of humanity to characterization, and a sense of chilling subtlety to the intricate political conflicts. If no one else sells the weight of this dramatic thriller, it is, of course, Alfred Hitchcock, whose direction has plenty of style, as I said earlier, but is also particularly realized in its utilization of Hitchcock's legendary thoughtful storytelling, which is controlled enough to keep the slower spells adequately entertaining, and inspired enough to make the more dramatically meat moments near-profoundly effective. As I said earlier, there is a certain unevenness to the film's urgency, as Hitchcock cannot completely brush away the usual dramatic limitations of the 1950s, but it is ultimately very refreshing to see just how effective this film gets to be, as an intriguing political thriller and a provocative character study. The film is driven by its attention to the delicacy of humanity and the harshness of certain disturbing mysteries, often of a political nature, so, of course, what can really make or break the effectiveness of this film is the acting, and Hitchcock, realizing this, gets really solid performances out of most everyone, especially the leads, with Doris Day capturing the emotional layers of a respectable woman who must face horrible dangers placed upon her loved ones, while leading man James Stewart showcases his classic and unfortunately under-seen dramatic subtleties to capture the intensity of a good man who may find his morality jeopardized by disconcerting circumstances. Day and Stewart, upon really fleshing out their performances, are utterly powerful and anchor the most effective points in the drama, and yet, they consistently impress, just like the other performances, found on and off of the screen, that make the final product not only rewarding through and through, but possibly one of Hitchcock's relative best films. In conclusion, there are certain dramatic limitations and inconsistencies to focus and pacing that join conventions in thinning a sense of momentum, sustained enough by handsome cinematography and locations, thoughtful writing, effective direction and a pair of powerful performances by Doris Day and James Stewart to secure 1956's "The Man Who Knew Too Much" a thoroughly compelling and often even gripping dramatic thriller that transcends its shortcomings to rank among Alfred Hitchcock's stronger projects, and reward by its own right. 3/5 - Good
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Mar 29, 2013
    Top notch Hitchcock film. Gotta love the Cold War if Dorris Day's in it!
    Christian C Super Reviewer
  • Jun 16, 2012
    Very suspenseful and scary at times, but it's still flawed
    Bram S Super Reviewer

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