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The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)


Doris Day and James Stewart
Doris Day and James Stewart


'The Man Who Knew Too Much' is a suspense thriller movie, made in 1956, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring James Stewart and Doris Day. The film is a remake of one of Hitchcock's own films - his 1934 film of the same name.

The movie was nominated for, and won, one Academy Award in 1957, for Best Music, Original Song to Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for the song "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)".

Because it is Hitchcock's only remake, it raises the issue of the superiority of his American work to his British productions. Though the original 1934 version is witty, the remake is more lavish and expert, containing some of Hitchcock's most powerful scenes in widescreen VistaVision and Technicolor.

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James Stewart, a favourite of Hitchcock's, plays an American doctor, Ben McKenna, on holiday in Morocco with his family, who accidentally learns of a political assassination which is to take place in the near future. A friendly English couple are in fact spies in on the plot, and they kidnap Stewart's son Hank (Christopher Olsen) to ensure his silence. So Ben must prevent the killing without putting his son in harm's way.

As in most Hitchcock films, the international intrigue is less important than the odyssey of the hero. Stewart indeed 'knows too much,' not valuing the capabilities of his wife (Doris Day). As the plot unfolds, however, her assistance proves essential, despite his fears of her emotional collapse (he even drugs her before telling her of the kidnapping).

The film climaxes in the Albert Hall, one of Hitchcock's best-ever set pieces. 'The Man Who Knew too Much' features excellent performances by Stewart and Day, and by Bernard Miles and Brenda De Banzie as the British agents. The score by Bernard Herrmann, who appears in the film directing the orchestra, is one of his best and the performance of Arthur Benjamin's cantata 'Storm Clouds', unchanged from the original 1934 film, is the climax of the movie.

Main Cast

James Stewart ... Dr. Benjamin 'Ben' McKenna
Doris Day ... Josephine Conway 'Jo' McKenna
Brenda De Banzie ... Lucy Drayton
Bernard Miles ... Edward Drayton
Ralph Truman ... Inspector Buchanan
Daniel Gélin ... Louis Bernard (as Daniel Gelin)
Mogens Wieth ... Ambassador
Alan Mowbray ... Val Parnell
Hillary Brooke ... Jan Peterson
Christopher Olsen ... Henry 'Hank' McKenna
Reggie Nalder ... Rien
Richard Wattis ... Assistant Manager
Noel Willman ... Woburn
Alix Talton ... Helen Parnell
Yves Brainville ... Police Inspector

Credits

Director ... Alfred Hitchcock
Producer ... Alfred Hitchcock, Herbert Coleman
Assistant Director ... Howard Joslin
Cinematography ... Robert Burks
Director of Photography ... Leonard South
Writer ... John Michael Hayes
Screenwriter ... Charles Bennett
Based on a Story by D. B. Wyndham-Lewis
Based on a Story by Angus McPhail
Music ... Bernard Herrmann
Music Score ... Arthur Benjamin
Composer ... Ray Evans, Jay Livingston
Art Director ... Hal Pereira
sound ... Paul Franz
Sound Recording ... Gene Garvin

Academy Awards

One win:
Best Music, Original Song ... Jay Livingston and Ray Evans for the song "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)"