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The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] (1934)

Peter Lorre , Alfred Hitchcock  |  NR |  Blu-ray
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)

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The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + The 39 Steps (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] + The Lady Vanishes (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Lorre
  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: January 15, 2013
  • Run Time: 75 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B009RWRIP2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,346 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New audio commentary featuring film historian Philip Kemp
  • New interview with filmmaker Guillermo del Toro
  • The Illustrated Hitchcock, an extensive interview with director Alfred Hitchcock from 1972, conducted by journalist Pia Lindstrom and film historian William Everson
  • Audio excerpts from filmmaker François Truffaut’s legendary 1962 interviews with Hitchcock
  • Restoration demonstration
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme

  • Editorial Reviews

    An ordinary British couple vacationing in Switzerland suddenly find themselves embroiled in a case of international intrigue when their daughter is kidnapped by spies plotting a political assassination. This fleet and gripping early thriller from the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, was the first film the director made after signing to the Gaumont-British Picture Corporation. Besides affirming Hitchcock’s brilliance, it gave the brilliant Peter Lorre (M) his first English-speaking role, as a slithery villain. With its tension and gallows humor, it’s pure Hitchcock, and it set the tone for films like The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Hitchcock's First Five-Star Entry November 26, 2007
    I agree with Alfred Hitchcock in his assessment that his 1956 remake of this 1934 classic was a superior movie. However, that's only when pressed. Really, despite mostly having the same story line and climactic scene at the Royal Albert Hall, they are two different films.

    It's not just because one is in black and white, whereas the other is in color, or that one features British and the other American leads. It's more intangible than that. It has to do with pacing, and that this is a more tongue-in-cheek thriller than the remake. Also, while Hitch never stopped pushing the envelope on visual effects, it's so interesting watching this one, because he was learning as he made it. When Edna Best faints upon learning that her daughter (Nova Pilbeam) has been kidnapped, the camera movement simulates the room spinning round and round. It's a sort of primitive shot, one that Hitch didn't smoothly master until the 1940s. That said, it cannot be denied that Hitchcock's primary visual contribution at this point was in applying the German Expressionist montage sensibility to the British cinema, which was theretofore fledgling.

    The acting is all right from the good guys, but it's the villains who are most impressive in this version. Peter Lorre as Abbott is creepy, and quite a polished actor, whereas the British actors were a little awkward in reciting their lines. Lorre was smooth, confident, volatile and simply a pleasure to watch. Cicily Oates as Abbott's religious sect "front" is simply mesmerizing when she hypnotizes Leslie Bank's comic relief friend, Clive. There are some stark Expressionistic shots of her through a glass lens, and as the light intensifies on her face, so does her perverse concentration. Almost zombie, cultlike.
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    19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars Slow to get started, but a very entertaining film June 25, 2001
    (The DVD version that I am reviewing is the Laserlight release, featuring the introduction by Tony Curtis. All remarks concerning the quality of the disc refer to this edition.)
    I found THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH to be a bit of a mixed bag. The first half appears choppy and uneven. Things happen without much motivation and the cast seems to confused as to what exactly is going on. Some of the more experimental scenes and moments just did not seem to work terribly well. The direction is unsteady and a touch confusing at times - I'm still not sure what happened during the opening ski scene and I couldn't figure out why a skiier, when suddenly confronted with a child running in front of him, would just scream and cover his eyes.
    However, at about the midway point, the film settles down and becomes quite entertaining. There are some masterfully suspenseful sequences such as the assassination attempt during a concert and a long shoot-out with the police. Hitchcock managed to milk the suspense for all it's worth without once taking it a moment too far. Peter Lorre deserves a lot of credit for crafting a role that initially isn't terribly exciting and infusing it with just the right amount of necessary style. His character is a joy to watch and Lorre steals every scene that he is in. He gets all the best lines and manages to create a character that's chilling even while he's laughing hysterically at his henchmen.
    The DVD itself is not bad. The picture seems fine and the audio is quite good. I'm sure that there are better prints available than this, but for the extremely low price, it's a bargain. The bonus footage is a trailer for Alfred Hitchcock's SABOTEUR and is a fairly forgettable extra. And Tony Curtis didn't wear his black, leather gloves for the opening and closing remarks, which is always a good thing.
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    18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
    2.0 out of 5 stars Very poor picture and sound spoil a good film May 23, 2000
    By A Customer
    A very poor transfer of a very good film.Laserlight have done nothing to restore the print.The picture is dark and washed out.The sound is also very poor.The story has some great scenes,such as the finale in the hall where the assassination attempt takes place,but you have to watch a muddy picture with crackling sound.Wait for another version to come out.
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    5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and Atmospheric Early British Hitchcock May 16, 2008
    This entertaining thriller from Hitchcock's British period is proof that bigger budgets don't always mean better pictures. He remade this in America during the 1950's, in color no less, and while it has some fine moments also, first prize still goes to this more charming and fun to watch black and white original.

    This is the film which got Hitchcock noticed and those who haven't seen the original version are urged to do so. Everything is just right in this one, from the script by Charles Bennett and D.B. Wyndham Lewis to the photography of Curt Courant, to the charming atmosphere of early 1930's Switzerland and London. Much like "Sabotage," it may be a tick behind "39 Steps," "The Lady Vanishes" and, my personal favorite, "Young and Innocent," but there isn't a lot to quibble about.

    Lesle Banks and Edna Best are excellent as the carefree couple on vacation in Switzerland with their teenage daughter Betty (Nova Pilbeam). That happy-go-lucky sense of living it up at dinner parties and ski resorts carried over from the 1920's will change suddenly, however, when their pal Louie is killed while dancing with Jill (Edna Best). He will have just enough breath left to give her an urgent message regarding a planned assasination of a politician which could throw the world in turmoil.

    Before she and her husband can relay the message to those who need to know, however, their lively daughter Betty is kidnapped, an insurance policy against their talking. They return to London holding the key to preventing a muder, but must remain silent to save their beloved daughter.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    2.0 out of 5 stars NOT the version to see
    Welp that wasn't any good. Everything felt rushed; rushed performances, rushed story, rushed everything.
    Published 1 month ago by sonofapharmacist
    5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect everything!!! No complaints!
    Perfect everything!!! No complaints!
    Published 1 month ago by Andrew Deyoung
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Great sevice!
    Published 3 months ago by bartleby
    5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
    Great Hitchcock movie that now looks great.
    Published 3 months ago by Michael Huvar
    5.0 out of 5 stars The man who knew to Much
    This movie was Peter Lorre's first English language film. His Character was very evil, but in a subtle way. Read more
    Published 5 months ago by Bwhami
    5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!
    I bought the Blu-Ray version on a whim to see if there would be a difference in the image quality with a film going back that far, and comparing it to the standard DVD sitting on... Read more
    Published 6 months ago by wildbillcarey
    5.0 out of 5 stars Ford55
    Great Film with BluRay version like viewing the Film for the first time. ThisFilm is a collector item of Classic films that stands up to time.
    Published 7 months ago by John Ford
    4.0 out of 5 stars Better than the remake
    Terrific. The closing scenes are especially intriguing as a similar scenario actually occurred with Churchill on the scene. Peter Lorre. Nobody did it better.
    Published 7 months ago by Tom
    4.0 out of 5 stars An early gem of Hitchcock
    Years ago, I watched the Jimmy Stewart film of the same name, and I didn't realize that Hitchcock had remade HIS OWN movie. It is a really interesting concept. Read more
    Published 9 months ago by B. Adducchio
    5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Criterion - Hitchcock Masterpiece!
    The film looks outstanding on BluRay. The picture quality is beautiful. Excellent Criterion release - informative commentary and I love the Del Toro tribute to the film. Read more
    Published 13 months ago by rossa
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