THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH

(1956)
With James Stewart, Doris Day, Brenda de Banzie, Bernard Miles, Daniel Gelen, Ralph Truman, Christopher Olsen
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Reviewed by JL

"Who wrote Swanee River?... um... Rock Hudson?"     A more effective film than Hitchcock's original 1934 version of (more or less) the same story, this remake of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH may not rank among the director's masterpieces, but it's an excellent work nonetheless.  Hitchcock's growth as a filmmaker in 22 years is evident in terms of cleaner and more compelling storytelling, while the production itself is the more polished product of a veteran filmmaker rather than "a talented amateur," as the director himself said in analyzing his 1934 abilities.  Even more significant are the allegorical implications that provide an underlying thematic unity that was missing from the first version.  The all-American couple played by James Stewart and Doris Day clearly love one another, but their marriage is tested by clashes of logic vs. emotion.  The kidnapping of their son is almost a Job-like test of their faith in one another.  It is such subtext, however, that lends the film a rather stifling and pious tone, never allowing certain scenes to have the emotional impact it seems they ought to have.  But the film's strengths are many, as Hitchcock adroitly stages effective scenes ranging from the grandiose Albert Hall finale to the quiet desperation of the moment when Stewart tells Day of their son's fate.   - JL

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