09/08/2013

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Film: The Man Who Knew Too Much
Release: 1956, Theatrical
Starring: James Stewart, Doris Day, Daniel Gélin
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
IMDB page: Link opens in a new window
Description: A small American family from Indianapolis is visiting Marrekesh, Morocco. By chance, they are thrown into international political intrigue, a kidnapping, and the knowledge to stop a murder.

Hans' thoughts:  

When you first watch this movie, it seems like a typical Hitchcock movie - A small unassuming family is vacationing in Morocco. Everything seems fairly simple - if a bit slow. However, do not get disheartened, because while the first part of the movie is slow - probably for the sake of character development, Everything suddenly picks up when our main character Doctor McKennan is relied the details of an international murder plot. Thus becoming, you guessed it, The Man Who Knew Too Much!  

This movie is actually quite suspenseful, although it knows when it needs to give the audience a break to catch their breaths. Littered with small humorous moments and red herrings to keep you guessing. On the road we learn more about our characters, as they at the same time might just learn a little about themselves. Our main character, played by James Stewart, starts out as an unassuming naive everyday man. He's on vacation, so he's more trustful than he would've been at home. Taking his wife's worries at a distance, reassuring her at every turn. At the same time, when the movie starts becoming more about the mystery he tries to deal with everything himself. Even keeping his wife out of the loop. Unfortunately, Stewart seems to be playing the same character he's played in other Hitchcock movies, which is becoming sort of Old Hat for me by now. He's good at what he's doing, but he seems very typecast. I miss energy in his performance. He was way too laid back, his eyes seeming empty in some scenes.

The wife is a famous singer, fittingly played by the real-life singer Doris Day. This incidentally is the movie where she sang the hit song: Que Sera, Sera (Whatever will be, will be) that won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 1957. The song is introduced in the beginning of the movie and returns later as a nice little break from the drama. She's also surprisingly good at acting, carrying one or two scenes in stride.

I'd like to tell you that the movie follows fit with being just as good as the song. Unfortunately, that's not the case. We have a lot of really nice twists, some funny moments, good musical arrangement and a few imaginative shots. Unfortunately, it just seems like this movie wasn't made with as much care as others. Falling just short of being great. I'd say my feelings about this movie are lukewarm at best, though I do not hate it or dislike it, it just didn't do anything for me. I miss some information from the main plot, why did they want this man killed? Who were they? Information was sparse at best. The movies representation of law enforcement officials weren't exactly flattering either, making them seem like someone that just stands in the corner, gently nudging the bad guys to stop what they're doing and giving up at the first bump on the road.

So yeah, this is one of those movies that will entertain you while you're watching it, but when you start thinking about it you start finding a lot of problems with it. So is it good? Well, considering it drives your suspension of disbelief enough to make you oversee all the problems, I'd say it does it's job. Which is all anyone can ask for.
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