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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

An English couple (Leslie Banks, Edna Best) are on holiday in Switzerland with their daughter (Nova Pilbeam). While the wife is dancing with a Frenchman (Pierre Fresnay, GRAND ILLUSION), he is shot and dies but not before passing some vital information regarding an assassination to her. But before she can relay the information to the proper authorities, the daughter is kidnapped and held as a hostage to ensure their silence. This early Alfred Hitchcock effort is made with skill but Hitchcock himself referred to the film as the work of a "talented amateur" and he's not far off. Parts of the film are sloppy and clumsy (the daughter seems a case of arrested development) and the finale is a rather drawn out, dull shootout between the police and the kidnappers. He got it right when he remade it in 1956. With Peter Lorre in the film's best performance as the head of the assassination gang, reputedly speaking his lines phonetically as his English was still weak.

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