The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

June 24th, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Alfred Hitchcock | Cast: Leslie Banks, Edna Best, Peter Lorre, Nova Pilbeam, US Thriller 75’

The jury is still out on which was the better version of the only one of his films Alfred Hitchcock ever remade, but having just seen them in close proximity I can confirm that there’s very little in it.

The extra hour in the later version was due to a much greater length of time devoted to the foreign preliminaries, the bulk of the original taking place in a rather Germanic-looking London.

Anybody who saw the remake will be startled to find that the very same cantata is also used in the earlier version, and whereas the scene that follow is in the embassy in the remake comes as something of an anticlimax the original ends with a rip-roaring finale – originally based on the Siege of Sydney Street and probably also drawn from a recent viewing of The Testament of Dr. Mabuse quite unlike anything Hitchcock would ever attempt again.

The film also contains what later became Hitchcock’s trademark point-of-view shots, Nova Pilbeam makes a much more appealing hostage than the annoying Christopher Olsen in the remake; while it boasts a memorably ghoulish collection of conspirators, including Peter Lorre in his only film for Hitchcock and the late Cicely Oates as Nurse Agnes. @RichardChatten

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