Classic Review: The Man Who Knew Too Much (Remake)

Stars:  *** out of Four

Summary:  Wound up tight, Hitchcock’s remake of his own work delivers heart-wrenching tension, with a spectacular cast.

They're shocked that you haven't seen this movie.

They are shocked that you have not seen this movie.

Review:  Like Hitchcock’s other hits, it’s massively influential.  How could Hitchcock make something that wasn’t influential?  It’s a nigh impossibility.  Hitchcock is so awesome that, apparently, he could take his earlier works and remake them so they are awesomer.

So what’s so awesome about this?

Hitchcock had a way with simplicity.  There’s not very much plot.  If you stuck the same details in a ‘Bourne’ or ‘Bond’ movie, you’d probably get about 30 minutes out of it.  That’s not to say the plot is thin, it’s just adequate.  What keeps you involved is Hitchcock’s attention-arresting techniques, and it carries the whole movie, allowing you to ignore moments that don’t necessarily make logical sense (dubbed “icebox moments” or Fridge Logic) and creating a sense of uncertainty.  The lead roles all do a spectacular job.  Every character has more depth than they let on. Oh, and Doris Day is insanely attractive.  And she can sing.

The plot is not something I’d like to spoil, so I’ll just leave that out.  More important to know is this: The movie earns its happy ending.  There’s no sudden plot holes to force a satisfying conclusion, it just works.

Artistically, it’s pretty strong as well.  Bernard Herrmann gets to appear on screen in a remarkably deliberate cameo as a conductor, but both on and off screen his music does its job well, but is unobtrusive.  The cinematography begs for a wide screen television — or a silver screen.  Especially the sequence with Herrmann conducting an orchestra.

Not the most spectacular Hitchcock film, I felt.  But definitely one of the better thrillers ever produced.

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