December 10th, 2008

THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1935) **

A husband and wife are in Switzerland to do a little skeet shooting with their young daughter and get caught up in an assassination attempt.  The slimy, scar faced bad guy (Peter Lorre, who is excellent in his first English speaking role) kidnaps their kid so they won’t blab to the police.  Eventually the couple takes matters into their own hands and tries to get their kid back.

 

The Man Who Knew Too Much is an OK early Alfred Hitchcock movie that has a solid enough premise yet lacks the punch of a true Hitchcock classic.  Hitch also felt that this flick was somewhat lacking as he would go on to remake it three decades later.  While both films aren’t all that great, I prefer the original.  Whereas the remake was slick, this one has a rawness to it that suits the material a lot better.

 

The film’s set piece is the Royal Albert Hall sequence where the assassination attempt takes place during a concert.  Although this scene is kinda suspenseful, things quickly go to pot afterwards.  I know that Alfred Hitchcock is The Master of Suspense and all, but honestly, the final shootout is pretty awful.  I realize police shootouts in movies were a new thing in the 30’s and they hadn’t really gotten the knack of filming them, but c’mon Hitch, you can do better than that.

 

Lorre later went on to star in Hitch’s Secret Agent.