Everyone always bitches every time someone does a sub-par remake of an Alfred Hitchcock film, but they tend to forget that Hitch’s remake of his own 1934 film, The Man Who Knew Too Much wasn’t all that great either.
James Stewart and Doris Day star as a couple whose son is kidnapped while on vacation in
I don’t claim to have seen all of Hitchcock’s work but out of the two dozen or so films I have seen; The Man Who Knew Too Much is easily his weakest. Stewart is likable as always, but I found Day to be quite blah as the female lead. Day is thoroughly innocuous and pales in comparison next to Hitchcock’s other leading ladies like Eva Marie Saint, Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren. She also gets to belt out her irritating trademark tune, “Que Sera, Sera” TWICE, which further adds to her annoyance factor. Luckily, the supporting cast, including Hillary (The Abbott and Costello Show) Brooke, Reggie (Salem’s Lot) Nalder and Carolyn (Morticia!) Jones is fun to watch.
Usually I don’t like to harp on a film’s running time, but this movie makes for a long two hours. It had no business being this long (the original ran only 75 minutes!) and you literally feel every second of screen time. (It took me two tries to successfully get all the way through the film.) Everything about the film just seems to go on forever. Many scenes play out longer than they should (especially the opening scenes); almost as if Hitch was a bit TOO comfortable with his stature as the Master of Suspense and self indulgently let things run on for far too long.
Hitch was normally adept at his use of editing to create suspense, but even the suspense scenes are stretched out to infinity. Take the highly touted Albert Hall assassination sequence for instance. It goes on for TWELVE whole minutes without dialogue and for all the build-up Hitch puts into the scene, it all ends rather anticlimactically. I mean watching a classical music concert in real time isn’t exactly my idea of suspense. The ending is also abrupt and on the whole, pretty worthless.
Despite fleeting moments of fun (like Day and Stewart’s first meeting with the kidnapping couple), for the most part, The Man Who Knew Too Much is a talky, bloated, bore. Stewart pretty much carries the whole show by himself and the film is at least worth a look if you’re a die hard Hitchcock fan. Otherwise, skip it and watch Psycho.
Hitch did The Wrong Man next.