Movie Club: The Man Who Knew Too Much

Discussion in 'Introductions & Off Topic' started by LiamABC, May 18, 2019.

  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    WELCOME EVERYBODY TO THE LATEST DISCUSSION THREAD OF THE NEW MOVIE CLUB. A big thanks to everyone that are joining us through all of this.

    This week we're paying tribute to Doris Day who passed away a few days ago, with The Man Who Knew Too Much. The 1956 colour remake, she wasn't in the black & white version in 1934!

    Remember any ideas for films to discuss are most welcome, and should be made on the Movie Club Introduction thread (the sticky one), and anyone is welcome to add their thoughts about movies already discussed on their respective threads.

    Just a friendly reminder to everyone that, whilst fans are obviously welcome to passionately discuss and give their views on these movies, please remember to keep things on a friendly footing and respect your fellow posters.
    Also, please do not post where or how to find the full movie online. And do not post asking others to PM it to you. You are however allowed to watch the movie in whatever manner you want.
  2. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    A truly great Hitchcock film.
    The plot is very interesting with them trying to free their son.
    The film does start a little slow but once it gets started it is a very captivating film.
    The cast all do exceedingly well with their parts.
    The late Doris Day was perfect for her part sense it involved her getting to showcase her singing ability.
    Does his usual great job as Hitchcock's leading man.
    The film really builds perfectly towards the ending.
    It's really hard to pick a favourite scene from this movie but I think it would have to be the ending when they free their son.
    I still haven't watched the original of this film. It would be interesting to compare the two, but this is the iconic version everyone knows of when they here the name of the film.
  3. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    This film was the only time Hitchcock remade one of his own films, he originally made it in black & white in 1934. I've still never seen that version, must do so at some point. Hitchcock himself described his original as being done by "a gifted amateur" and the remake as being done by "a professional". Certainly this remake is fantastic, it has everything you'd expect and want to see in a Hitchcock movie.

    The everyman getting caught up in a major situation like that is a staple of his movies as far back as the original version of this movie, as well as many others of his, including The 39 Steps, Strangers On A Train and North By Northwest. We've done the latter on here, we should cover the others at some point. Certainly the "everyman" here is embodied beautifully by James Stewart. It's the specific quality that Hitchcock liked about Stewart, who had starred in two prior Hitchcock movies, Rear Window (which we covered last year) and Rope, Hitchcock's first film in colour back in 1948. James Stewart was described as the sort of film star who had that "everyman" quality to him, where men could go and see his movies and picture themselves in his place, in a good way. He would go on to star in one final Hitchcock movie a couple of years later, Vertigo.

    The late Doris Day as his wife is also excellent - she's not someone you naturally think of for a part like this, she's not known for dramatic roles, but it worked. The producers demanded a song for this movie because of her involvement, and this is where "Que Sera Sera" first appeared - it's become such a cliched song over the years that it's easy to forget it had to come from somewhere, and this was the somewhere. It was written for this film and indeed won an Oscar.

    The storyline is intriguing, too. When the McKennas first meet Bernard, it feels like there's something sinister about him and that he's going to have a big part to play in the later events - which he does, but not the way anyone was expecting, as he gets killed about half an hour in. In a way this was a precursor to Psycho and the shower scene that completely surprised the audience. And it's Bernard's death here that is the real trigger for all that follows. The McKennas have to do what he was supposed to do, namely prevent the assassination. With the added complication of their son being held hostage.

    If I had one quibble about this film, it's the bits at the start explaining the local culture on the bus and in the restaurant, it could have been done a little more briefly and discreetly. But I suppose they wanted to make it clear that they were in an exotic foreign country and back in 1956, that was a big deal to the audiences in America. And it's not like it's a major problem that affects the whole fundamental premise of the movie (yes Stage Fright I am looking at you!).

    All in all this is a classic. Definitely in the top ten films that Hitchcock made (as are the other four of his we've covered here already).
    The Drifter likes this.
  4. The Drifter

    The Drifter Berbill

    I recently re-watched both the 1934 & 1956 version(s) of The Man Who Knew Too Much back to back, both on Blu-ray. These were both excellent films.

    The 1956 film is definitely the more iconic & well-known of the two, and I'm sure it made the song Que Sera, Sera extremely famous. Great song - I will admit I was somewhat unfamiliar with this prior to seeing the movie (for the first time) back in the 200X's. I can't imagine anyone other than Doris Day singing this ;)

    The film's storyline is interesting, disturbing, and compelling: I.e., a mild-mannered, law-abiding family is travelling in a foreign country - and, through no fault of their own - are caught up in international intrigue/espionage, kidnapping, etc. This just goes along with a big theme in Hitch's films - i.e., ordinary people who are inadvertently caught up in unusual (and in many cases bizarre) situations beyond their control.

    The scene when Jimmy Stewart mistakenly goes to the taxidermist's shop to look for his son was unintentionally amusing. I.e., it was funny how the employees of the business made sure to remove the stuffed animals from the area as Stewart was struggling with them; they obviously didn't want their expensive "merchandise" damaged - LOL. Also, this scene had shades of the later Psycho - i.e., Norman Bates was a amateur taxidermist in this film.

    Some notes re: the 1934 version - no big SPOILERS here, since I know not everyone has seen this yet:

    -I had seen both versions of the film for the first time back in the mid-200X's (on DVD), and when I thought back on the '56 version, I could swear that Doris Day was singing Que Sera, Sera to her young daughter, not young son. However, in this case I was obviously confusing the first film with the second; in the '34 version, the couple's young pre-teen daughter is kidnapped.

    -Peter Lorre played a great, sleazy villain in this film - he was obviously known for these types of roles.

    -I liked how the mother took an active role in her daughter's rescue at the end of the film, and appreciated how this tied into a scene in the beginning of the film. Well-done continuity here.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
    Mark M and LiamABC like this.

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