Saturday 7 July 2018

The Man Who Knew Too Much

Two films for the price of one?! Confused? Yes, a remake of his own film! The 1934 version of Alfred Hitchcock's thriller was remade by himself in 1956. I watched both this week and it's fair to say that the later version is much more polished and has been made into a slightly different story but also benefits from the Hitchcock and James Stewart collaboration seen in other of his films of the era.

It's easy to scoff at the quality of the first film, but you have to remember that it was made on a low budget in 1934 when special effects were near nonexistent, acting very wooden and sound recording littered with blemish. It's an enjoyable outing, nonetheless, and as it's only an hour long, whips the viewer straight into the meat of story, spends little time scene-setting or character building and focuses very much on getting it in the can. It's in black and white of course and it's sometimes hard to keep track of who's who, with all the men dressed in black!

The newer version has been elongated, plot expanded and made more interesting, climaxes with a much more plausible ending (over the siege/shootout of the former) and is initially based in Africa rather than Switzerland. In fact, the first half hour, in some senses, feels a little dragged out before the story takes off, it could be argued.

The cute little girl of the first is replaced by a pretentious boy in the second and leading lady cast as Doris Day. I'm not sure about that. I keep seeing her as the self-assured, overconfident Calamity Jane rather than Hitchcock's usual prescious underplayed dependent and cutesy leading lady. So a switch. But Stewart, as usual, steals the show with a central performance which pulls the film together which, along with the award winning direction, makes for a good, tight and gripping thriller.

Both are worth a viewing so that you can draw comparison and at the time of this review, you can watch the whole of the first one on YouTube. Otherwise, link below for details. Both recommended, latter more polished.

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