THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. 1956. DIRECTED BY ALFRED HITCHCOCK. STARRING JAMES STEWART AND DORIS DAY. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Sigh. An Alfred Hitchcock/James Stewart movie collaboration on BBC2 to start my lazy Saturday morning. What could be better? This time around, the film was the excellent THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, a remake of Hitchcock’s 1934 film of the same name starring Peter Lorre.
It was preceded by that wonderful television show, TALKING PICTURES, featuring James Stewart talking to chat-show king Michael Parkinson about films like IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE and THE GLENN MILLER STORY.
These clips were followed by another one of James Stewart in his eighties, reading in a voice that shook with emotion a beautiful poem he’d written about his beloved dog, Beau, who had passed away. James Stewart wasn’t the only one in tears towards the end of this clip, I can tell you that for nothing, folks…!
THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH features real-life friends Stewart and Day as Dr. and Mrs. McKenna, a very American couple who are holidaying in exotic Marrakesh with their young son, Hank. Whilst they are there, they get mixed up in an assassination plot that results in their son being kidnapped and whisked off to London, England, by a couple of crooks called the Draytons.
The frightened McKennas naturally hotfoot it to England in pursuit of their little boy. Their frantic search leads them in turn to the quaint little Ambrose Chapel and, by contrast, to the grandeur and splendour of London’s magnificent Albert Hall.
Can they find their beloved Hank and also prevent the assassination of a Prime Minister whose murder for political reasons was foretold to Dr. McKenna by the mysterious dying Frenchman Louis Bernard in a noisy overcrowded market in Marrakesh…? Only time will tell…
There are so many terrific highlights in the film. Doris Day in the prettiest dress ever singing CHE SERA SERA to Hank in their hotel suite, then later using the same song at the Prime Minister’s residence to lure the boy back to them. James Stewart trying to arrange his long, long legs gracefully at the low, low tables of a Marrakesh restaurant.
The McKennas singing observations and instructions to each other in the Ambrose chapel during hymn-time. James Stewart grappling with the wrong Ambrose Chappells, both father and son, in their delightfully cluttered, old-fashioned taxidermy establishment.
James Stewart’s gorgeous suits- they sure don’t make ’em like that anymore, let me tell ya!- and Doris Day’s shiny golden bun of hair and elegant grey suit, both somewhat reminiscent of Kim Novak’s in VERTIGO. The sparkling blue of James Stewart’s blue, blue eyes.
I could go on and on and even on, but then I’d have told you the whole movie, haha. Suffice it to say that this is a superb film from an era that’s sadly gone forever but which lives on in movies like this. I personally think it’s one of the finest achievements of each of the two leads and the director himself, the great Alfred Hitchcock.
Here’s a wee tip for you, free gratis and for nothing. You don’t have to watch this film on a Saturday morning on BBC2, but it feels even better if you do. There. You’re very welcome…
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based performance poet, novelist, film blogger, sex blogger and short story writer. She has given more than 200 performances of her comedy sex-and-relationship poems in different venues around Dublin, including The Irish Writers’ Centre, The International Bar, Toners’ Pub (Ireland’s Most Literary Pub), the Ha’penny Inn, Le Dernier Paradis at the Trinity Inn and The Strokestown Poetry Festival.
Her articles, short stories and poems have appeared in The Metro-Herald newspaper, Ireland’s Big Issues magazine, The Irish Daily Star, The Irish Daily Sun and The Boyne Berries literary journal. In August 2014, she won the ONE LOVELY BLOG award for her (lovely!) horror film review blog. She is addicted to buying books and has been known to bring home rain-washed tomes she finds on the street and give them a home.
She is the proud possessor of a pair of unfeasibly large bosoms. They have given her- and the people around her- infinite pleasure over the years. She adores the horror genre in all its forms and will swap you anything you like for Hammer Horror or JAWS memorabilia. She would also be a great person to chat to about the differences between the Director’s Cut and the Theatrical Cut of The Wicker Man. You can contact her at:
1) ‘… BY A WOMAN WALKING HER DOG…’
2) A WRITER’S JOURNEY
3) ANNA MEETS COUNT DRACULA
4) ANOTHER FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
5) CANCER BALLS
6) CATCH OF THE DAY
7) FIFTY FILTHY-DIRTY SEX-POEMS YOU MUST READ BEFORE I DIE.
8) FIFTY REALLY RANDOM HORROR FILM REVIEWS TO DIE FOR…
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10) VISITING DAY