Alfred Hitchcock, is probably my favorite director. He is certainly my favorite suspense/thriller director and action/comedy director, dramatic/comedy director and even suspense/comedy director. He combined comedy with all the different genres that his movies covered. And if I had to put a list of my top ten Hitchcock movies, I don’t believe The Man Who Knew Too Much would be on it. It would be behind North by Northwest, To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, Strangers on a Train, Charade, several of his short films from The Alfred Hitchcock Hour like Run For Doom, with the great Diana Dors. But that is the thing about Hitchcock, he made so many great movies that even if one of them isn’t in your Hitchcock top ten that doesn’t mean that movie isn’t also a great movie. It just means it isn’t as good as the others that are on the list.
When you’re talking about great leads which are the lead actor and lead actress in a movie, I think you would have a hard time finding a better combination than Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day and then add that Alfred Hitchcock as their director. Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day, are perfect for Hitch, because they are both great actors, entertainers, both very funny and very versatile. And of course in Doris Day’s case she is a hot baby-faced adorable sexy blonde, but who was also a hell of an actress that Hitch loved. So they were both perfect for Hitchcock and this movie. Doris Day, in real-life is seventeen years younger than Jimmy Stewart. She still looks great today and was thirty when she did this movie. Jimmy Stewart was in his late forties at this point, but they were still great together.
The Man Who Knew Too Much, is about a vacationing American family in Morocco. Dr. Ben McKenna (played by Jimmy Stewart) and his wife Jo McKenna, (played by Doris Day) who is a singer. Their son Hank, (played by Christopher Olsen) is kidnapped by terrorists in Morocco. They meet a Frenchman in Morocco Louis Bernard, (played by Daniel Gelin) and have dinner with him. Bernard, is actually an intelligence agent for the French Republic. He is killed by these terrorists after having dinner with the McKenna’s. And the terrorists tell Dr. McKenna over the phone that if he and his wife don’t talk to the police, they won’t kill their son Hank. And that is how this movie gets going with Dr. McKenna trying to get his son back, while at the same time preventing his wife from knowing what is really going on. She thinks their son has just been kidnapped by local thugs.
This is not a great movie, at least from my perspective. I don’t think it is very believable that terrorists would target the son of an American doctor simply because the kid’s parents talked to a French intelligence agent. That tells me they had no idea who this American couple was. It would be one thing if they kidnapped the kid, because their parents are a wealthy American couple and they want ransom. But there doesn’t seem to be any financial motivation at all in this movie. But it is a very entertaining movie. Doris Day, is her usable hot sexy adorable self, especially as she finds out that her son has just been kidnapped. Jimmy Stewart, is his usual charming Mr. Joe Average self, who does a great job of playing an average guy in a very complicated situation. And this is a very entertaining movie.
Universal Pictures UK: The Man Who Knew Too Much- 1956 Theatrical Trailer