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Customer Review

on April 5, 2001
THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is one of the rare films that Hitchcock started to shoot without a finished script (please read the book by Bill Krohn, HITCHCOCK at WORK), and he allowed James Stewart and Doris Day to improvise certain scenes. The reslut is amaizing, and proves the tremendous talent of those two actors. The scene in which Stewart tells Day about the kidnapping of their son is a perfect example; Stewart who plays a doctor gives her tranquilizer pills before breaking the news! These rich details permit Hitchcock to go more deeper than a very well made thriller which the original 1930's version was. The subtle tension between the couple makes them more believable, real and likable, and makes this film more engaging and ultimately more rich and emotional, because you believe in them inspite of the extraorodinary situations they are in. It's one of the most perfect Hitchcock film.
In the making-of documentary of REAR WINDOW, restorationists Robert Harris and James Katz warn us about the horrible condition THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. I guess they're right.
While the transfer of this DVD is quite descent, the film elements from which this DVD is made are not in the best of condition. It looks like everything that can be done on electronic-digital domain is done to make the film look as beautiful as possible, but certain things could be done only by working on the film elements themselves. Alreday in the credit sequence, you would notice that the yellow on the letters are practically gone.
More problems occurs on the composite shot done by back projection. They simply look, well, composite images, because they have badly faded. Now, Hitch and his regular cinematographer Bob Burks were masters of this illusionary technic. They would have not allowed the screen-processed scenes look as bad as this. Their magic of combining location footage (here, a lot of great shots from Morocco and London) hurts terribly because of the time that has passed.
Judging from the opening logo which is an Universal one, it is obvious that this transfer was created from the early 80's re-release version. Originally, the film should have a Paramanount logo followed by the VistaVision logo (which itself looks great; I love that). I only hope that the original camera negatives and other film elements stay in a much better shape than this. And I do hope that Universal would ask Harris and Katz or somebody to do something about resucuing this masterpiece from being completely lost.
For those who love the music of Bernard Herrmann as much as the films of his best partner Hitchcock, you can see the great master realising the dream of his life---to become a concert conductor; he is the conductor at the climatic Albert hall concert scenes.
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