The Man Who Knew Too Much

The Man Who Knew Too Much ★★★★★

Might not be one of Hitchcock's most exciting films, but I remain very much intrigued by it. There's a constant tension (evident in many of his films, probably, but seldom as clearly defined as here) between the extremely precise, mechanical, almost academic techniques of suspense and the mundane, kind of messy, almost soapy family drama. Hitchcock makes it clear that, while the mechanisms of the thriller plot always need to be airtight, with every part of the machine working perfectly in synch (like the instruments in an orchestra performance), the depiction of private life must allow for some areas of looseness and ambivalence. In the end we only get hints of the reality of Stewart's and Day's marriage - people will fill in the blanks anyway, and always according to their own experience and ideological predisposition.

Today almost no one seems to allow for the possibility of them leading basically a happy, if a bit boring life, or at least one that is very much worth saving. And the film's problem, for today's audiences, might be that the ending only really works when one is able to buy into this anyway. Because, of course, both strands, the public adventure and the private drama, only come together in the final "Que sera sera" scene, and they only do so because Day consciously chooses to transform a public performance into a private one. To sing for her son in order to never having to sing for any other audience ever again.


Letterboxd reviewers, even the ones very dear to me, never cease to amaze me. Hating on "Que sera sera"? On Doris Day? Is there nothing sacred anymore?

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