The Man Who Knew Too Much

The Man Who Knew Too Much ★★★★

Don't you realize that Americans dislike having their children stolen?

This was my first time viewing Alfred Hitchcock's American remake of his own 1934 British film of the same name. I like the original a great deal. It features Peter Lorre in his first English film and has some brilliant sequences even though it was a very early sound film for Hitch. I wasn't sure if my fondness for the original was going to effect my enjoyment of the remake.

Even today I find the remakes I enjoy the most are the ones that actually do something different from the original. Hitchcock might have been thinking the same thing as he told screenwriter John Michael Hayes that he didn't want him to see the original film, or read the original script. Hitchcock gave him some plot details he wanted in the film and set him off to work on the screenplay with nothing else. The result is an excellent film that builds on what the original attempted, but has enough original material to stand on it's own.

This would mark James Stewart third film with Hitchcock in a role that was tailor made for him. The studio liked the consistency of Stewart but for the female lead they were pushing for the likes of Grace Kelly or Kim Novak while Hitch wanted Doris Day. Now I would pick Kelly over Day in a heartbeat, but Hitchcock won out and it's hard to argue that she wasn't right for the role. It's also this film where she introduces the world to the song Que Sera Sera.

It is a brilliant remake that manages to be better then the original while taking nothing away from it. The Albert Hall sequence, while an ingenious idea in the 1934 version, is brilliantly pulled off here. While this is not one of Hitchcock's masterpieces, even a lesser Hitchcock film ends up being a brilliant film.

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