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Man Who Knew Too Much, The (1934)

 

Hitchcock! Hitchcock! Hitchcock!

 

"In fact, should you take the square root of such a number and multiply it by the hypotenuse..."
"In fact, should you take the square root of such a number and multiply it by the hypotenuse..."

Genre: Adventure Drama Mystery Noir Thriller (UK)

Starring: Leslie Banks (Jamaica Inn; The Most Dangerous Game), Peter Lorry (Casablanca; The Maltese Falcon)

Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (The Lodger; The Wrong Man)

Overview: When a couple is brought into the fold of an assassination plot, the killers kidnap their daughter to keep them silent.

Performance:

We have a huge name in Peter Lorre. He's this Hungarian-born dude who's voice became synonymous with lecherous malignance. As for his fedora, cigarette and his beady bulgy eyes, well that made sure that Film Noir would be his niche, so yeah, he's pretty effin' cool in this. As for the man who knew too much, his friend and his wife, we have exactly what I expected: a solid performance guided by a solid director.
Rating: 8

Cinematography:

You might not recognize the Hitchcockian streak here, but if it's probably because you'd mistake all these haunting visuals as elements of the genre, this classic Film Noir style we all know and love. But if you think about it for a while, you might then ask yourself, "Why is Hitchcock known as the MASTER of suspense?" Well when you help invent it, you tend to be allowed to hold the scepter...
Rating: 8

Script:

The most disappointing part of the film would have to be the dialogue. We have this great story where these two guys have to go off and risk their lives where saying nothing might have spoken volumes instead of such dialogue as the police begging to be let in on the secret, or meaningless banter between the villains. I think I have an idea as to what Hitchcock looked at first when he decided to remake this in '56. You watch...
Rating: 6

Plot:

The story is fairly simple and full of intrigue. We start off with a dying man imploring the person nearest him to help them, giving them the keys to their hotel room. From there we learn about an assassination plot that would bring forth the Second World War in exactly the same way the First World War began. Those involved aren't able to bring in the cops for fear their daughter would be killed, so they set off to find the evildoers themselves. It's an interesting concept and there's some interesting finds along the way but the end falls apart when it takes us into a very unbelievable act of police bumbling and spectator rubbernecking.
Rating: 7

Mood:

Speaking of which, let me know next time there's a full out shootout with dead people in the streets so I can go gawk at the whole thing. I told Girlfriend of Squish that it's a pretty good sign that you're living in a really boring town when the whole neighbourhood goes TOWARDS the gunshots to watch the trouble. I guess the only thing worse would have been the cops saying "nothing to see here! Move along!" At least it's Film Noir, and decent at that.
Rating: 7

"Pardon me Peter, but just because that's your name it doesn't give you the right to grab mine"
"Pardon me Peter, but just because that's your name it doesn't give you the right to grab mine..."

Overall Rating: 72% (Didn't Know Enough To Make A Great Film...)
Aftertaste:

Here we go, all things Hitchcock in one nice package, Crime Thrillers combined with Mystery Suspense and you have a recipe for Film Noir worthy of being proud of. Sure it has its flaws but those fans out there who want to start a true study of 'Hitchcockian Hitchcock' can get away with calling this his first real 'creative control' film that began his trek through immortality.

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In Hitchock's own words, the 1934 Man Who Knew Too Much was "The work of a gifted amateur" while his 1956 re-make was "The work of a professional".

As for the police bumbling, that's pretty much a Hitchcock staple. Hitchock had a robust dislike of coppers, so in his films they're usually portrayed as useless idiots who either don't help or actively pursue the wrong person.

Congratulations for making it through the early thirties! Hitch's films are all uphill from here! 

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