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The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Peter Lorre
  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD 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: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B009RWRINE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,163 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • New high-definition digital restoration
  • 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

    4.6 out of 5 stars
    5 star
    14
    4 star
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    See all 18 customer reviews
    As far as comparing it to the remake, personally I prefer this version.
    Joe Gola
    I don't have Blu-Ray but I can say the DVD's restored visual & audio quality is as good as we will get considering the age of the film.
    John C
    The Gray Tones are perfect, no loss of details in the shadows or light areas.
    Paul J. Mular

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews

    47 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Tom S. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 26, 2012
    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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    30 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Paul J. Mular TOP 500 REVIEWER on January 16, 2013
    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.
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    6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Eder on January 23, 2013
    NOTE: THIS REVIEW APPLIES TO THE CRITERION COLLECTION STANDARD DVD EDITION OF "THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH"

    THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is one of those movies that has been in legal limbo for so long, that one despaired of anyone ever doing the legal, much less the archival and restoration work, involved in returning the movie to some kind of presentable state. Unlike most of Hitchcock's other early British thrillers, whose US copyrights were "merely" shaky (a problem partly solved by the GATT Treaty), or where the underlying story-rights had migrated elsewhere, THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH had been remade by Hitchcock himself, who was on record as decisively preferring his later version -- it was all very complicated, and contrived to make the prospect of upgrading the original all the more daunting on its face.

    But here it is, looking fresher and newer than anyone in 2013 has a right to expect, with details that have been missing for half-a-century or more from extant copies, and killer sound, too. And this reviewer, having done the audio commentary on Criterion's DVD of THE LADY VANISHES, can say all of this with some sense of authority.
    5 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 28, 2012
    The Criterion Collection has released only a handful of Alfred Hitchock's movies, but they tend to be subtle, psychological movies that are often eclipsed by better known movies like "Psycho" and "The Birds."

    And yes, Alfred Hitchock may have preferred his later remake of "The Man Who Knew Too Much" as opposed to his early "amateur" original. But the original has a raw, murky, taut appeal all its own, and it has the veddy veddy British flavor that many of Hitchcock's early hits have. In short, it's unpretentiously enjoyable.

    The Lawrence family is vacationing at a ski resort, and hanging out with a friendly Frenchman -- until their last evening, when he is shot during a slow dance with Jill (Edna Best). Bob (Leslie Banks) follows his last instructions, and finds top-secret information hidden inside a shaving brush. He's supposed to take it to the British authorities.

    But what they don't realize is that a sinister man at the resort (Peter Lorre) is the leader of an enemy terrorist cell, who is planning to assassinate someone. And to keep Bob from turning in the information, they kidnap Bob and Jill's daughter. Now Bob and British intelligence must somehow free his daughter, while Jill thwarts the assassins...

    Hitchcock directed a lot of spy movies, and this one is part of an early trio that includes "The 39 Steps" and "The Lady Vanishes." Each one is pretty amateurish by comparison to his later works like "North By Northwest," but are still tight, enjoyable little suspense movies.

    Hitchcock keeps the relatively simple plot moving along at a rapid pace, with a sense of solid suspense and often creepy dialogue ("Tell her they may soon be leaving us. Leaving us... for a long, long journey...").
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