Monday, May 21, 2007

The Man Who Knew Too Much

The Man Who Knew Too Much; Thriller, USA, 1956; D: Alfred Hitchcock, S: James Stewart, Doris Day, Christopher Olsen, Daniel Gelin, Brenda De Banzie

Doctor Ben is together with his wife and son Hank traveling in a bus through Morocco as a tourist. Hank gets scorned by an Arab for taking the veil of a woman, but the situation gets de-escalated by the French Bernard. In a hotel they become friends but the next morning Bernard, masked as an Arab, dies in front of Ben due to an assassination and manages to mention a planned assassination in London and Ambros Chapel. Ben wants to say that information to the police, but an anonymous callers warns him to keep quiet because his son has been kidnapped. In London Ben finds a certain man called Ambros Chapel but he soon realizes Bernard meant a real chapel. He there discovers criminals disguised as priests who kidnapped his son and who plan to kill a minister inside an opera. During the opera, the minister gets only wounded, while Ben manages to free his son and push the priest down the stairs.

With "The Man Who Knew Too Much" Alfred Hitchcock made a remake of his very own film with the same title from 1934 and proved to be his own match. The exposition is manifesting itself like almost every Hitchcock film: with calm mood. There the master by the way portrays a few interesting details from Morocco, like the meat that is traditionally eaten with the right hand and with only three fingers, causing the main hero Ben a lot of problems. Of course, with the murder of the French charter Bernard the mood suddenly transforms into a thriller and slowly raises the tension - in one scene the police chief is interrogating Ben if he knows the victim and immediately adds: "Of course you knew him!", which causes Ben to reply with: "You're not only asking the questions, you're also responding to them at the same time!" Hitchcock also added a few satirical stabs (Ben's son is kidnapped by a criminal disguised as a priest) and the 9 minute long sequence in the finale, that plays out in the opera where the killer is waiting to shoot the minister at the end of the act, created suspense by simply showing and following the music notes. A rather skillful thriller-drama about abduction, full of rhythm, the famous song "Que Sera, Sera" won an Oscar while the movie itself was even nominated for a Golden Palm in Cannes.


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