Customer Reviews: The Man Who Knew Too Much
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on October 30, 2000
The "Master of Suspense", Alfred Hitchcock, hits another bullseye with his 1956 production of "The Man Who Knew Too Much". Purists have been known to complain that they prefer Hitchcock's original 1934 version of the story to the lavish, widescreen, color version starring James Stewart and Doris Day, but if viewed side by side, both films stand on their own as classic Hitchcock.
The 1956 "Man" unfolds like a beautiful book, methodically, deliberately, and compellingly. Stewart plays an American doctor and Day is his wife, a retired singer. They are vacationing with their young son, Hank, in Morocco, when they become embroiled in an International incident involving a planned assasination. Their son is kidnapped and taken to London. Day and Stewart follow, where they attempt to get some answers and to locate their son, on their own, without the help offered by Scotland Yard. The film reaches it's exciting climax during a concert at Albert Hall in which Day suddenly realizes what is about to occur.
Without giving away some of the intricate plot twists and turns, "The Man Who Knew Too Much" is like a breathtaking ride on a state of the art rollercoaster. You cannot help but get caught up in the plight of Stewart and Day.
James Stewart and Doris Day seem like a real married couple, so easy and comfortable is their onscreen chemistry. They banter and interact convincingly but there is also a strong indication that there may be some tensions lurking beneath the outer veneer. Both actors play their roles with expertise and Day, in particular, shows range and versatility in her performance, being especially memorable in the justly celebrated Albert Hall scene and in an earlier scene when Stewart informs her that their son has been kidnapped. The growing realization as to what he is telling her is reflected in Day's facial reactions.
Hitchcock has once again assembled a first-rate cast of supporting players including his long time musical collaborator, Bernard Herrmann, who appears onscreen for the first time, playing himself while conducting an original piece of music during the Albert Hall sequence. The team of Livingston and Evans composed a song for Day to sing to her son as part of the plot. The tune, "Whatever Will Be, Will Be"(Que Sera, Sera), became a megahit, selling millions of records, winning an Oscar as best song and becoming one of Day's signature tunes. It plays an intricate role in the storyline, being introduced naturally and being reprised as part of the picture's denouement.
The queues that formed at box-offices all over the world when "The Man Who Knew Too Much" opened in the summer of 1956, were a tribute to the talents of Hitchcock, Day, and Stewart, and to the public's continuing fascination with quality entertainment. To this day, the film remains one of Hitchcock's best films from his 1950's period. A movie that is well worth viewing.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon March 27, 2013
This remake of Hitchcock's unremarkable 1934 version is substantially better. As he said in his own words, "Let's say the first version is the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional."

Naturally there are some events that may be commonplace in the mid 1950's that you would never do today with your child. Specifically, hand him off to a stranger you had just met. In this version the child is a boy of about 9, where the original featured a girl of about 13. I guess it doesn't matter, but I wonder why that character was changed.

This movie also features Doris Day in a rare dramatic role, although she plays a former professional singer and does get to exercise her voice in the movie. At least a plot point supports her doing so. The climatic scene at Albert Hall is retained very close to the original and is equally well done. The film is a good one, although it doesn't reach the heights of "Rear Window," "Psycho," "North by Northwest," "The 39 Steps," and other Hitchcock classics.

The Blu ray version is currently available as part of the "Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection" and will be available individually in the near future. The film is transferred with a 1080p resolution and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Frankly, the quality isn't quite as good as other films in the collection. My biggest issue is with the color. It looks washed out much of the time and I noticed some damaged sections of film. It doesn't appear much correction of the original print was attempted. Don't get me wrong, the movie is an improvement over the DVD, especially some of the detail but it could have been better. The audio is DTS-HD Master Audio Mono (over 2 channels) and is very good. It is clean and focused. Included are Spanish and English SDH subtitles. The extras include a 35 minute reflection with Pat Hitchcock O'Connell, associate producer Herbert Coleman, screenwriter John Michael Hayes, production designer Henry Bumstead and others. Included also is a trailer and some production photos.
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on August 1, 2008
I bought this DVD and returned it for a refund. The picture and sound quality were horrible. Don't buy any Triad Productions products. My 1-star reviews keep getting removed by these scammers. I will keep posting them!
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on February 11, 2014
(This is a product review and not a review of the movie itself, to which I give 5 stars. Amazon needs 2 blu ray movie ratings - one for content and one for blu ray quality. Until that happens, I have to rate this 1 star based on the quality of the product itself. I think potential buyers need to know the following before purchasing this disk.)

I watched this film last night and was shocked that Universal would release the blu ray version of this Hitchcock classic with such severe picture quality issues left unresolved.

Most of the movie is plagued by color pulsing and fluctuations so harsh that it distracted me from being able to enjoy the movie that I loved since I was a kid. I thought it was a temporary, scene-specific issue but it persisted throughout the entire movie, only abating slightly during the last half hour.

I could not believe what I was seeing. It was like watching the movie in a room with colored strobe lights flashing and reflecting off the screen of my HDTV, subtly changing the hues and tints of the scenes every second or so.

How does this happen on a blu ray release? I remember watching the DVD version and it did not have this issue. I would even argue that the DVD version is better than this joke of a transfer.

I got this movie as part of the 15 disk Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection. Luckily, there are many fine transfers in the box set that make up for the shoddiness of The Man Who Knew Too Much. But do not waste your money on the stand alone blu ray. You'll be disappointed if you do.
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on January 11, 2000
Alfred Hitchcock's second version of one of his favorite stories is one of the best, most dramatic suspense films of all. It stars James Stewart and Doris Day as an American couple vacationing in Morocco whose young son is kidnapped to insure their silence when they discover an assassination plot. Moving his film from Africa to England, Hitchcock dazzles American eyes with beautiful and exotic locales while employing his trademark policy of allowing the viewers to know more than the characters know in order to keep suspense at its height. Boy, does that work! I have seen the film more than a dozen times and still can't stay off the edge of the seat. One of the greatest casting coups in Hitchcock history has Doris Day playing the anguished mother and wife of the man who knew too much, and although the story's title names the man, it is the wife's story all the way. She is the emotional center of the story; it is her intuitions, her suspicions, her deductions that propel the narrative, and Doris Day plays the part to a fare-thee-well offering a performance which sizzles through a gamut of emotions from the lighthearted fun of dueting with her little boy (to the by now standard, "Whatever Will Be Will Be") to the anguish of having to decide to try to stop the assassination even though it may cost her son's life. Day never makes a false move; her hysteria on learning of her son's kidnapping is a masterpiece of acting control and her anguish during the concert in the Albert Hall where the assassination is to take place is palpable to the viewer even though it is communicated only visually. This film is perfect Hitchcock and an extraordinary revelation of Doris Day to those who know her only as a comedienne. I might add that when Queen Elizabeth knighted Sir Alfred, he chose the Albert Hall sequence from this film to be the capstone of the film excerpts presented at the ceremony.
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on June 29, 2015
This is one of Alfred Hitchcock's underrated masterpieces. It's also contains the inspired pairing of Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day.

Really, this movie should be considered one of the top-tier Hitchcock films alongside "Rear Window," "Psycho," "North by Northwest," "Vertigo," and "Strangers on a Train." (Sorry if your favorite isn't included on that list....yes, "Shadow of a Doubt" is also great....etc...)

Hitchcock's only self-remade movie was remade for good reason -- he tinkered and updated the story until it was a perfectly calibrated example of the "innocent people drawn into a corrupt world and have to navigate it to save themselves" type of storytelling that Hitchcock took to previously uncharted levels of excellence and invention.

There are also interesting themes at play, such as the running theme of sound and how it affects the outcome of nearly every scene of the story. The early scenes also make an amusing travelogue, showing what it was like for Americans to travel in Morocco and experience a different culture back in the 1950s.

When I first saw this movie, I was a little taken aback by the presence of Doris Day, who sings in a couple of scenes. I always thought of Doris Day as the "Pillow Talk" actress, and I considered her to be symbolic of a corny, overly earnest style of American humor of the time period. But watching "The Man Who Knew Too Much," I realized that Doris Day was a formidable, highly competent, serious actress who just happens to also have a deft touch with light humor and a lovely singing voice. She is every bit Jimmy Stewart's equal in acting and star-power charisma, and their scenes together are finely honed examples of two professionals playing off each other with grace and ease, as well as showcasing the strong bond of marriage and mutual-respecting interaction that helps them get through the very upsetting situation they've been drawn into.

My only complaint about this movie is I still can't find Alfred Hitchcock's cameo. Where is he? What scene? Anybody wanna help me out?
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on January 6, 2013
"The Man Who Knew Too Much" is one of my all-time favourite Hitchcock pictures, and I recently viewed the blu-ray disc as part of the fifteen-film Alfred Hitchcock collection.

Stewart and Day are perfectly cast in this---each actor was well-known for their the wholesome, good-natured, all-American persona, so they're playing according to type. However, what makes their relationship so interesting on screen in this film, is that you can see cracks in the facade of this seemingly perfect marriage. A few dropped words, a glance---it's apparent that things may not be nearly as happy as they appear on the surface, that there's a lot going on in their relationship that is not fully spelled out to the audience.

I've said before that I'm a tremendous Doris Day fan, so it's no surprise this is one of my favourite Hitchcock pictures, eh? While she was primarily known for her light-weight musicals and comedies, Doris is in fact a capable dramatic actress. She seldom had the opportunity to really show how much she could do, and this film is a welcome chance for her to stretch a bit, as compared to the way you usually see her on-screen.

There are several marvelous stand-alone sequences in this picture, with the lengthy Albert Hall scene a stand-out---not only in regards to this film, but in the context of Hitchcock's filmography overall. Fantastic sequence!

A bit of trivia....Hitchcock did have his fetishes (for lack of a better term), and one of them was for a certain physical type of woman---blonde, with her hair up, wearing a tailored grey suit. His preference was of course most obvious in "Vertigo," where it becomes a vital plot point. But even a casual viewer will notice that this EXACT same look is evident in several of his other films, made both before and after "Vertigo." In "The Man Who Knew Too Much," Doris does in fact wear precisely this type of suit for the majority of the picture; it's her primary costume for every scene set in London.

Anyway, what can I say---this is another Hitchcock film about which public opinion is mixed. But I love it! Recommended.

Now, as for the new blu-ray transfer of this film... Ah, here's where the trouble begins. The video master was taken from a VistaVision interpositive, which ordinarily would give stellar results---IF the original film elements weren't damaged. The negative for this film is deteriorating, and this is evident on-screen, because Universal didn't do a full restoration on this picture. While sharpness and detail are excellent, as would be expected from the large format VistaVision process, where we run into problems is with the colour. Not for the entire picture, but for certain sequences. There is colour shifting and fluctuation, along with noticeable picture flicker occasionally.

How problematic is it? Well, for me the damaged sections were noticeable enough to be distracting and pull me out of the film. But---I asked someone else who had seen it what they thought, and they said they didn't notice a thing! So, I have to wonder if this will be a problem for the general viewer... As a wild guess, I would say there were about 10 to 15 minutes spread throughout the film (from a 120-minute total running time) that were damaged enough that I noticed the problems clearly. And yet---I like the film well enough, and was so happy with the quality of the rest, that even this isn't a deal-killer for me. (In other words, I'm not sorry I spent the money on this--and one of the primary reasons I bought the entire Hitchcock blu-ray set was specifically for this film.)

Problem is, this film could have been PERFECTLY restored if Universal had spent the time and money on it. Film preservationist Robert Harris was furious about this transfer; I think his fear is that now there is a high-definition video master available, the studio is just going to shelve all the original film elements for the foreseeable future. And while these elements are in good enough shape for perfect restoration now, a few years down the road they may have deteriorated past repair. So---yes, this is a problem and I'm not happy that Universal didn't do a better job on this title, especially considering how good other films in this blu-ray set look. But for now all I can do is accept what's available and enjoy it....
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on January 15, 2014
The colors are startling, and Hitchcock, uses the camera and the scenery to register wonderful images, almost like a travelogue.
He is totally in his element, moving from Marrakesh to London, his favorite city, I guess. (Hitchcock shot Rebecca, Frenzy etc. in England). The story is startling and the suspense stays on, even on second viewing. Jimmy Stewart is excellent as usual, in his doggone it style. Doris Day is a poor substitute for Hitch's favorite Grace Kelly, but then he never found one just like her (including Tippi Hedren, Julie Andrews, Eva Marie Saint). But she sings Que Sera Sera divinely.
All in all a top notch Hitch, well worth viewing. The Blu Ray disc is crystal sharp and clear. The depths are amazing on a 1080 p TV.
The colors are vibratingly bright and restored masterfully. Highly recommended.
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on August 6, 2015
This movie is classic Hitchcock. James Stewart and Doris Day are both self aware tongue in cheek comedy players with wonderful screen presence. This film is an enjoyable visit to the late 1950s American cinema.
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on March 26, 2014
This movie marked the beginning a string of Hitchcock productions which have long been personal favorites. I delayed purchasing the Blu Ray of this one as I had read some very negative online remarks about its quality. When I decided to take a chance and purchase it anyway, I was very pleasantly surprised at the look of the movie when I screened it. I know enough about video technology that I was surprised at some rather bad color shifts between adjacent shots. It doesn't take very high-end equipment to correct such problems so I'd have thought that the people in charge of the transfer would have remedied these flaws. Regardless, these problems are few and far between and otherwise, the disc generally has that super-crisp, technicolor feel that one hopes for with movies shot in VistaVision. That surely was a grand format in its day. If you like the look and feel of these mid-1950s Hitchcock movies, I suspect that you'd have to be terribly perfectionistic to not enjoy this clean, sharp transfer. I read comments that suggested one of those copies that seemed to have been made from weak second or third-generation elements. You should know that this is not at all the case with this product.
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