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

4.2 out of 5 stars 108 customer reviews

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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.

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

  • 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: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B009RWRIP2
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,461 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: DVD Verified Purchase
    The Criterion Collection has done it again! For several years now, they've been filling in the blank spaces in the collections of film lovers, and now it's a newly remastered version of Alfred Hitchcock's 1934 thriller, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. As one of Hitchcock's biggest fans, I'm here to tell you that there has never been a really good print of this early masterpiece available on DVD before, to say nothing of Blu-Ray. Now, thanks to Criterion, we have both!

    This was Hitchcock's first version of the venerable spy story; he filmed it again in 1955 with James Stewart and Doris Day (The Man Who Knew Too Much). Fans argue about which is the better version, and the director himself preferred the later one, but I love them both equally. There's something truly charming about the earlier film, and it includes one great performance that doesn't have a correlative in the 1955 version.

    The story is simple and straightforward: A British couple (lLeslie Banks and Edna Best) are on vacation in Switzerland with their young daughter (Nova Pilbeam) when the father accidentally learns a deadly secret from a dying man. A political VIP is about to be assassinated in London by a nasty ring of terrorists led by a vicious psychopath (Peter Lorre, giving the great performance I mentioned above). In order to keep the parents quiet about the plot, the villains kidnap the daughter, which leads to...well, see for yourself.

    This was Peter Lorre's first performance in English, and he is truly memorable. Banks and Best are excellent, too, and the swift pace of the movie never lags.
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    3 Comments 51 of 57 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    We all know the movie, what everyone wants to know is how this new Criterion restoration looks.
    I can tell you that this is the BEST The Man Who Knew Too Much has ever looked. An original Nitrate Fine Grain that was made from the Nitrate Camera Original Negatives was used to make this Blu-ray. Apparently the Nitrate Camera Original Negatives are lost or have disintegrated, so this is the best film master available. This Nitrate film Fine Grain was located in the British Archive.

    The Gray Tones are perfect, no loss of details in the shadows or light areas.

    The focus may not be as sharp as a modern film, but it is very good. Only the original camera negatives would give a sharper image.

    The film condition is near flawless. i believe this was a wet-gate transfer (using a liquid that would fill in any scratches when transferring to video). The source film was fairly free of wear to begin with.

    Image stabilization was used to steady the picture of the now-shrunken Nitrate film. So no bouncy image.

    The audio has also go through a clean-up and is easy to hear. You won't feel like you are in the same room, but you can not expect much more from a 1934 soundtrack recording.

    This is the best that existing films and modern technology will give you.
    4 Comments 34 of 38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    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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    1 Comment 14 of 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: DVD
    (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.
    Comment 19 of 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
    This item: The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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