Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock
Written By: John Michael Hayes
Staring: James Stewart, Doris Day, Brenda De Banzie, Bernard Miles, Ralph Truman, and Daniel Gelin
If you ever get hungry, our garden back home is full of snails. We tried everything to get rid of them. We never thought of a Frenchman! -Hank McKenna
The Man Who Knew Too Much staring James Stewart and Doris Day, in a film by Alfred Hitchcock is a mystery suspense film that predicts to have it’s audience biting it’s nails in constant apprehension. Unfortunately, it isn’t the thriller I had anticipated and certainly not Hitchcock’s best but still a suspenseful and eerie tale. There is some charismatic performances by our leads that enhance the story and make the film much more compelling.
The man who knows too much is American doctor Ben McKenna played by Jimmy Stewart. He and his famous wife Jo, played by Doris Day, and their eight year old son Hank take a vacation in Morocco. By a series of seemingly unrelated events McKenna witnesses a murder in a market and becomes a pawn to a plot of political assassination. Being set up by people that seemed to be friends on their vacation, they become locked in the situation by blackmail and kidnapping.
Stewart and Day are great as a couple caught in the midst of some scheme but normal people involved in this kind of espionage makes it interesting. The fact that they are a victim of circumstance and their amazing ability to play into the mystery of the situation heightens each scene. Day’s initial suspicious curiosity about their new friend makes the viewer pay attention and watch each scene with apprehension knowing that a twist is inevitable, but it’s clever construction that builds with each side, sideswipes you even though the audience is already watching with pristine attention. It takes real genius to be able to so openly deceive your audience and Hitchcock is a genius for it.
There were moments that some of the built suspense either broke or lacked for me. Some of Day’s and Stewart’s reactions were a little underplayed. Considering the situation and being essentially put in the predicament they were placed in I expected more turmoil. It was difficult to connect in some of the climatic moments simply because I felt a disconnect from the characters. It didn’t ruin the entire film, but it did create less intensity. It also feels a bit long and some of the “almost” endings get carried away. I usually enjoy the drawn out dramatic suspense in Hitchcock films, but in this one it just didn’t always work.
Without a doubt The Man Who Knew Too Much is a clever addition to the work of Alfred Hitchcock, even though there was the occasional hiccup, the film still entertains and offers some exciting performances from Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day teamed together as a married couple caught in a series of events that involve them by a case of mistaken identity. Like all Hitchcock tales, nothing is ever what it seems and you are on your toes enough to be engaged throughout. The final scene ends in a moment of dark comedy, and leaves that sense of urge to watch another Hitchcock film. It was a fun film worth every second of my time.