Alfred Hitchcock was the unequivocal master of suspense. Of his 55 feature films “The Man Who Knew Too Much” (1956) is one of his better known, though not as iconic as “The Birds” (1963) or “Psycho” (1960). The film has undergone a recent restoration and is looking better than I’ve ever seen it with its vibrant Technicolor and clean process shots.
“The Man Who Knew Too Much” stars Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day as a couple on vacation in Marrakech whose son is kidnapped after they become entangled in a plot to assassinate a foreign dignitary. Stewart and Day don’t have an extraordinary amount of chemistry, but their portrayals of a married couple under tension are so complimentary one forgets how different they really are. The pacing is steady, and the story throws just enough curve balls to keep you on the edge, wondering how they’re going to get to the Hollywood ending you expect from a mid-50s film. Of course, with Doris Day appearing in a roll, its required for her to sing at least one song. To its credit the film utilizes this as a tool and it feels more integrated than in other Day films.
“The Man Who Knew Too Much” was actually a remake of a film Hitchcock had made through British Gaumont in 1934. Also titled “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” it featured Leslie Banks and Edna Best as a couple whose daughter is kidnapped by villain Peter Lorre. The title was the only one of his films that Hitchcock ever remade and both received box office success. If you care to compare the two versions, both are available on DVD.