The Man Who Knew Too Much appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was an impressive transfer.
Overall sharpness seemed positive. I noticed occasional soft shots, as some elements appeared slightly ill-defined. Those instances were exceptions, though, as the majority of the flick was tight and nicely delineated. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering marred the presentation, and I noticed no edge haloes.
Print flaws were a minor nuisance at worst. Some dirt cropped up around the edges of the frame, and I witnessed the occasional thin line on the side, but the movie usually came across as clean. Light grain appeared through the film.
I thought a few shots came across as too bright, but most of them showed good contrast. Blacks were dark and firm, while shadows seemed positive. A couple of low-light shots were a tad dense, but those were exceptions. The presentation seemed quite strong given its age.
I also was pleased with the more than adequate monaural soundtrack of Man. Like most films of the era, speech sounded somewhat thin, but the lines always remained easily intelligible, and they lacked edginess; they came across as reasonably warm for their age. Effects were also without much range, but they seemed fairly concise and didn’t suffer from significant distortion.
Music appeared as source elements – the film lacked a score – and sounded reasonably strong; as expected, these components failed to deliver much punch, but they seemed clear enough. Some light background noise cropped up through the movie, but not to a distracting degree. I felt the audio worked fine for its age.
With that we head to the Blu-ray’s extras and start with an audio commentary from film historian Philip Kemp. He provides a running, screen-specific look at Hitchcock’s career and the film’s place in it, cast and performances, various production details, changes from the shooting script, comparisons between the 1934 and 1956 versions, and a few others areas.
Kempy provides a crisp, concise commentary. He delves into an appropriate mix of topics and does so with clarity. This ends up as a consistently enjoyable and informative piece.
Next comes an interview with filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro. In this 17-minute, 40-second reel, the director discusses aspects of Hitchcock’s career, the film’s production and thoughts about its method/motifs, and comparisons between the two versions of Man. Del Toro gives us a smart, insightful take on Hitchcock and this movie.
The Illustrated Hitchcock delivers a 49-minute, 48-second 1972 TV program. We see Hitchcock interviewed (separately) by Ingrid Bergman’s daughter Pia Lindstrom and film historian William K. Everson. Hitchcock chats about why he likes to make scary movies, working with actors, themes in his films, aspects of his early career, and some other thoughts connected to his work. Hitchcock was always a delightful, engaging subject, and this turns into an enjoyable program.
Under Hitchcock/Truffaut, we get an excerpt from director Francois Truffaut’s extensive 1962 interviews with Hitchcock. The 22-minute and 56-second reel presents those audio elements while we watch art, footage and stills related to Man. Hitchcock covers his career status in the early 30s, the origins of Man, story concepts, production elements, and related material. As always, the constant English/French and French/English translation makes the format somewhat clunky, but the information adds a lot of good observations.
A Restoration Demonstration occupies five minutes, 12 seconds and shows the methods used to create the Blu-ray’s transfer. This isn’t a fascinating reel, but it delivers some decent facts.
Finally, the package includes a 20-page booklet. It features an essay from classic film journalist Farran Smith Nehme that gives us an appreciation of the movie. While not one of Criterion’s more expansive booklets, it adds some value.
Hitchcock fans will always debate whether the 1934 original or the 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much works better. I’d argue “neither”, as both seem mediocre to me. The film has merits at its core – and I like the performance from Peter Lorre as the villain – but this just seems to be a nut Hitchcock never satisfactorily cracked. The Blu-ray delivers very strong picture along with good audio and a positive collection of supplements. Though the film itself is best left to Hitchcock diehards, at least I feel very pleased with its presentation here.