The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Genres - Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Political Thriller, Psychological Thriller  |   Run Time - 120 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Craig Butler

The 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much is so polished a production that it gleams. That very fact may bother some, who would prefer a bit more grit in their filmmaking or who feel that the wheels that drive the plot mechanisms may be well oiled but are also a bit too visible, but most viewers won't really care. If Man misses being an absolute classic, it's so close -- and so entertaining -- that it doesn't really matter. Hitchcock was in wonderful form here, stacking the thriller deck with incredible skill and aplomb, and coming up with a stunning and unforgettable 12-minute climax that is played without a single word of dialogue. (Indeed, the climax is so draining that the action that follows it comes across as a bit drawn out.) James Stewart is marvelous, capturing both the naïve innocence of his middle-American doctor and the tortured tenseness of a man in a crisis, and playing each of his scenes with nary a false note. If Doris Day is a wee bit forced in her big scenes, she's still more than adequate, and she does some truly impressive nuanced work early in the film that is important in establishing her character. The leads also have a special chemistry between them, slightly sexual but more like that which develops among two people who love and care for each other but also have their differences. Man is engrossing, intriguing, and captivating, and a film that has many surprises even on repeated viewings.