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Alfred Hitchcock
James Stewart, Doris Day, Brenda De Banzie, Bernard Miles, Ralph Truman, Daniel Gélin, Mogens Wieth
Writing Credits:
John Michael Hayes

A family vacationing in Morocco accidentally stumble on to an assassination plot and the conspirators are determined to prevent them from interfering.

Rated PG

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
French DTS Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 120 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 8/6/13

• “The Making of The Man Who Knew Too Much” Documentary
• Production Photographs
• Production Notes
• Trailers


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


The Man Who Knew Too Much [Blu-Ray] (1956)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 21, 2016)

Not too many directors remake their own flicks, but Alfred Hitchcock took that step via 1956’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. A reworking of his 1934 film of the same title, Man introduces us to the McKenna family: Ben (James Stewart), wife Jo (Doris Day) and son Hank (Christopher Olsen). During a trip to Europe, they decide to stop in Morocco for a few days.

On a bus ride, Hank accidentally removes a veil from a Muslim woman. Her husband goes ballistic but a helpful Frenchman named Louis Bernard (Daniel Gelin) intervenes and halts the trouble.

Grateful, Ben talks with Louis and invites him to dinner. He expects no trouble, but Jo grows suspicious of Bernard, especially when she sees him chat with the veiled woman’s husband in what appears to be a friendly manner.

Jo’s suspicions prove correct. A weird police chase ends in the stabbing of Bernard – oddly, while the Frenchman is made up as a Moroccan. Before Bernard expires, he whispers a secret to Ben that an unnamed statesman will soon be assassinated in London.

When questioned by police, Ben learns that Bernard was an intelligence agent. He also receives an ominous call that warns him not to spill the beans or something bad will happen to Hank, who we soon find out has been kidnapped. The film follows Ben’s attempts to rescue his son and deal with this disturbing situation.

When I watched all the James Bond movies, I noted that even a lackluster 007 effort still has reasonable entertainment value. I feel the same about Hitchcock’s work, as even his weaker efforts manage to provide something to occupy me.

I mention this because I find Man to provide decidedly ordinary Hitchcock. It follows themes found in many of the director’s releases, as Hitch loved the idea of the average man in extraordinary circumstances, and Man exemplifies that.

Actually, it broadens a bit to include the average man and woman, as both Ben and Jo essentially act as equals here. That’s an unusual touch, and one that adds a little life to the film.

But not enough. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about Man just leaves me cold. The film just seems off, as it never prompts the usual levels of intrigue and tension.

Indeed, Man strikes me as dull much of the time, again for reasons I can’t quite explain. The plot boasts the requisite twists and intrigue, but it just never really comes together. The movie strikes me as one with all the right parts - they simply fail to connect in a satisfying manner.

I can’t help but feel that Doris Day is miscast here. She may be a blonde, but otherwise she never strikes me as a real “Hitchcock woman”. Granted, since Jo’s a mother, Man offers an unusual part for its leading lady when compared to female leads in the director’s other works.

Nonetheless, I think someone less wholesome would make more sense. On the surface, Day makes sense as the wife of a Midwest doctor, but she never fits in the Hitchcock world. She’s also supposed to be more sophisticated than her “country doctor” husband but that doesn’t come across via Day’s performance.

Of course, Stewart feels right at home in these surroundings, but even he doesn’t bring much to the material. It seems like he’s on cruise control throughout the movie, as it rarely appears to really occupy him.

Perhaps the tale’s split focus on Ben and Jo creates some problems, since it lacks one true central figure. There’s no reason Man can’t pull off that bifurcation, but it doesn’t. The dual focus is awkward and doesn’t integrate in a strong manner.

Man does manage to entertain at times, and a few sequences work quite well. I rather like a bit in a taxidermy shop, and the climax in the Royal Albert Hall reminds us of why Hitchcock was such a special director.

In the end, though, the whole feels like less than the sum of its parts. This is an ordinary Hitchcock offering that just doesn’t do much for me.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

The Man Who Knew Too Much appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was an inconsistent presentation.

My main complaints related to print flaws, as a fair number of specks and marks showed up throughout the film. Some shots appeared a little flickery, and a few other issues like smudges and lines. The film could’ve been dirtier, but it also could – and should – have been cleaner.

Colors could be inconsistent. At times, the hues looked vibrant, but they also could seem a bit pale, and some fluctuations occurred; for instance, at times the sky could take on a light yellow tint, and skin tones could seem off. A few scenes “strobed” as well with semi-flickering colors; this was especially noticeable in the taxidermy shop sequence. Even with these issues, though, I thought colors usually were good.

Blacks worked fine, and shadows showed reasonable clarity. Sharpness was also mostly strong; except for a few minor soft spots, the image seemed pretty concise. I saw no shimmering or jaggies, but light edge haloes crept into the image at times. The many print flaws became a distraction, but otherwise much of the movie looked fairly positive.

The DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Man seemed fine for its age. Dialogue suffered from some iffy dubbing,, but the lines remained intelligible and showed no serious concerns. Effects also were thin, but these seemed typical of the period and presented no significant problems.

Music showed reasonable range. The score wasn’t especially dynamic, but it offered positive clarity and reproduction.. Ultimately, the soundtrack was more than acceptable given the film’s vintage.

How does the Blu-ray compare to the last DVD from 2005? Audio seemed smoother and clearer, while visuals demonstrated improved definition and color reproduction. The presence of so many print flaws and other issues remained a negative, but the Blu-ray still worked better than the severely problematic DVD.

The Blu-ray offers most of the extras from the DVD, and we start with The Making of The Man Who Knew Too Much, a 34-minute and 20-second documentary. We get notes from director’s daughter Pat Hitchcock O’Connell, associate producer Herbert Coleman, screenwriter John Michael Hayes, production designer Henry Bumstead, and Bernard Herrmann biographer Steven C. Smith.

“Making” looks at the original 1934 version of the film and its adaptation in the 1950s. It also examines locations and related challenges, cast and performances, set design, music, thoughts about the flick, and a few scene specifics. I’ve enjoyed all the other Hitchcock documentaries, and this one is another good one. I might’ve liked to see more comparisons between the two versions of the movie, but I still think the show works well.

Two theatrical trailers show up here; one is for the original 1956 release, while the other comes from a re-release in the 1980s, I believe. The 1956 one is fun to see due to some unique footage – including a scene from the movie that introduces Doris Day by her name, not in character – but it ends rather abruptly, so I expect it’s missing some footage. The re-release ad actually covers five Hitchcock flicks, so it’s not unique to Man. Then-new narration from James Stewart makes it moderately interesting.

Some stillframe materials finish the set. Production Photographs presents a running reel with behind the scenes images, publicity shots and some advertisements. It runs four minutes, 14 seconds and includes some good stuff; I especially like the fact it boasts a few posters for the 1934 Man.

I like Alfred Hitchcock’s work enough to find some merit in The Man Who Knew Too Much, but I nonetheless don’t regard it as a particularly interesting offering. It moves slowly and rarely becomes as involving and intriguing as expected. The Blu-ray offers inconsistent picture, acceptable audio and some useful bonus materials. I find Man to be lower-tier Hitchcock, and this ends up as an erratic release of it.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH

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