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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Too Much" Is More Than Enough
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...
Published on October 26, 2012 by Tom S.

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Terrorist Plot in London
The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1934 film

The film shows a ski jumping exhibit in St. Moritz Switzerland. Mrs. Lawrence takes part in a skeet shooting contest, and misses. The polite chatter tells something about the times and popular culture. There is a shot, and Mrs. Lawrence's dancing partner dies after giving a message. Mr. Lawrence goes to the man's room to...
Published 17 months ago by Ray Stephanson


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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Too Much" Is More Than Enough, October 26, 2012
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This review is from: The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) (DVD)
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. It's one of the Master's most enjoyable early works, paving the way for later gems like The 39 Steps and North By Northwest, and now Criterion has given us a reason to appreciate it even more. Highly recommended.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice Restoration, from someone who actually has the Blu-ray to watch., January 16, 2013
This review is from: The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) (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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At Long Last, The Original Is Rescued, January 23, 2013
This review is from: The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) (DVD)
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.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The man who knew, October 28, 2012
This review is from: The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) (DVD)
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..."). It's not a slick James Bond-y flick -- the action is dirtier and misty, like the back streets of London. And the climactic scene in a crammed opera house is wonderfully chaotic.

None of the actors are really remembered now, except for Peter Lorre who plays the slimy creep to perfection. But they all carry off their parts well, with Banks and Best carrying their roles as an ordinary couple in extraordinary circumstances. They're completely believable, and a hundred percent sympathetic -- these are the people next door, dragged into a nightmarish situation.

As for the Criterion release, it's gonna be the loving production we've come to know and expect -- a full high-def digital restoration (since the film is rather elderly), a massive interview with Hitchcock from 1972 and an audio interview by François Truffaut, a film critic booklet by Farran Smith Nehme, an interview with the always awesome Guillermo del Toro, and audio commentary by Philip Kemp. Not their most expansive work, but a decent showing for an older movie.

Hitchcock may not have known as much about filmmaking, but the original "Man Who Knew Too Much" had plenty of raw cinematic skill and a powerful knowledge of character.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Hitchcock, December 31, 2012
This review is from: The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) (DVD)
After NORTH BY NORTHWEST, the 1956 remake of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is my favorite Alfred Hitchcock movie, which makes it difficult to be objective in writing about the original 1934 version.

The remake starred James Stewart and Doris Day as American tourists in Morocco who stumble upon a political assassination plot, but are prevented from telling the authorities because the bad guys have kidnapped their son. In the 1934 original, Leslie Banks and Edna Best are a British couple in Switzerland, whose daughter is taken when they discover the dangerous secret. Peter Lorre, in his first English-speaking role, heads the gang of assassins in this version.

There are definitely some great Hitchcockian touches and set pieces in the original, but the overall film and its performances are rather stagy, lacking subtlety and the nail-biting suspense of the remake. That's not to say the movie isn't entertaining, because it is. Paraphrasing Hitchcock: "The difference is that the 1934 picture was made my a talented amateur, whereas the remake was made by a professional."

What's interesting about this version is the comparison of how essentially the same story has been told in some remarkably different ways. The key Albert Hall sequence has its genesis in the film, as does the confrontation in the church, though the handling of those scenes is far removed from the 1956 version. Also, the final confrontation in the earlier movie bears no resemblance to the later one. It's a straight shoot-out, inspired by an actual event, the Sidney Street siege, which took place in 1911.

The Criterion Collection has released the original THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH in a new pristine digital restoration that includes some marvelous extras. Among them is THE ILLUSTRATED HITCHCOCK, an extensive 1972 television interview with the director, conduced by Pia Lindstrom and William K. Everson. There is also audio commentary by film historian Philip Kemp, audio excerpts from Francois Truffaut's 1962 interviews with Hitchcock, an new interview with director Guillermo del Toro, the usual essay-filled booklet found in all Criterion releases, plus a restoration comparison.

This DVD is a "must" for all students and fans of Hitchcock.

© Michael B. Druxman
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hitch step in, May 25, 2014
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This review is from: The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) (DVD)
this gem is without peer on so many levels it is to question even the motive now it appears that is clear quite soon but later you realize this just ain,t so now to helm this score is alfred hitchcock himself you begin to understand north by northwest even better your scan sense is sharpened to the nth degree the cast is drawn as from a painting that decided it was much too big to stay just a painting the film stock was those masters at criterion who absolutely refuse to live with just okay if they can,t have perfection then they don,t want it and would rather pack it in rather than muck it up
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greatest ever, June 17, 2013
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Avenue Suffren "cdgs" (Westwood,Los Angeles) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) (DVD)
I Love these originals in B&W. Peter Lorre is at his best. Core Classic for the collector. Don"t miss it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent restoration of a classic - Criterion Collection DVD, March 15, 2013
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This review is from: The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) (DVD)
I am so pleased with this excellent restoration of a Hitchcock's classic. I wish Criterion could have done more with the restoration of The 39 Steps and The Lady Vanishes where even with Blu-rays did not do these classics justice. Hope Criterion will consider remaster them again. For those fans who do not have this latest Criterion Collection DVD version, please do yourself a favor and add this to your collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated Early Hitchcock, March 9, 2013
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This review is from: The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) (DVD)
A gem of film that exemplifies visual storytelling. It's reminiscent of the best of Fritz Lang--inventive, kinetic, playful, and brimming with detail. What Hitchcock adds to this is his own cool, comedic touch to create a work of pure entertainment. The director was already in full command of the workings of film language at this point, and he used every element of the medium to heighten his story and tell it the way that only a movie can. There's a delightful weirdness to it as well, with its offbeat humor, creepy villains and strange set pieces.

As far as comparing it to the remake, personally I prefer this version. Some might complain that the original has too much artifice to it, that it feels heightened or unreal, but to me this is exactly the film's charm. The problem with the 1956 remake, to my mind, is that it's sufficiently naturalistic that the kidnapping of the child is too jarring; it's simply too horrible an occurrence for a movie which is essentially intended to be entertainment. The artificiality of the original 1934 version puts the viewer at a safe distance from the harshness of this plot device, and we can relax knowing that it's all not really TOO serious.

Also, Doris Day belting out "Que Sera Sera" twice in one movie is a little much.

The Criterion production is fantastic, of course; the clarity of the film is amazing (especially when compared to the terrible public domain version I'd seen previously), and the bonus materials give us a nice glimpse into Hitchcock's method and genius. It can be a little tough to parse what the characters are saying at times, thanks to the various accents and an almost eighty-year-old soundtrack, but that's only to be expected.

All in all, I strongly recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 1st IS ALWAYS THE BEST, February 27, 2013
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This review is from: The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) (DVD)
FANTASTIC FILM...MUCH BETTER THAN THE JIMMY STEWART VERSION..PETER LORRE MAKES A PLAY FOR VILLAN OF THE YEAR...THIS FILM IS ALSO CONSTRUCTED IN A MUCH MORE BELIEVABLE IN PLOT LINE AND THE ACTING IS FANTASTIC AS COMPARED TO STEWART AND DAY..A MUST FOR HITCHCOCK FANS BRAVO...ALSO EXCELLENT TRANSFER BY CRITERION.
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The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (Criterion Collection) by Alfred Hitchcock (DVD - 2013)
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