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The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Not Rated | | Crime, Mystery, Thriller | 15 April 1935 (USA)
A man and his wife receive a clue to an imminent assassination attempt, only to learn that their daughter has been kidnapped to keep them quiet.

Director:

Alfred Hitchcock

Writers:

Charles Bennett (by), D.B. Wyndham-Lewis (by) (as D.B. Wyndham Lewis) | 3 more credits »
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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Leslie Banks ... Bob Lawrence
Edna Best ... Jill Lawrence
Peter Lorre ... Abbott
Frank Vosper ... Ramon Levine
Hugh Wakefield ... Clive
Nova Pilbeam ... Betty Lawrence
Pierre Fresnay ... Louis Bernard
Cicely Oates ... Nurse Agnes
D.A. Clarke-Smith D.A. Clarke-Smith ... Binstead (as D.A. Clarke Smith)
George Curzon George Curzon ... Gibson
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Storyline

While holidaying in Switzerland, Lawrence and his wife Jill are asked by a dying friend, Louis Bernard, to get information hidden in his room to the British Consulate. They get the information, but when they deny having it, their daughter Betty is kidnapped. It turns out that Louis was a Foreign Office spy and the information has to do with the assassination of a foreign dignitary. Having managed to trace his daughter's kidnappers back to London, Lawrence learns that the assassination will take place during a concert at the Albert Hall. It is left to Jill, however, to stop the assassination. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Public Enemy No. 1 of all the world... See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German | Italian | French

Release Date:

15 April 1935 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El hombre que sabía demasiado See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

£40,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (British Acoustic Film Full Range Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The dentist scene was originally intended to take place in a barber shop. However, Sir Alfred Hitchcock saw I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932), in which there is a scene exactly like it, so he changed it to a dentist's office. See more »

Goofs

(at around 21 mins) When Bob Lawrence and his daughter exit the chalet porch to watch the trap shoot, Bob pushes the left door outwards. When the camera cuts to an outside view of their leaving the building, it's the other door that is swinging shut, and it is closing from the inside. See more »

Quotes

Nurse Agnes: Relax. Keep your eyes fixed on this light. Keep them fixed. Before receiving the first degree of the seventh old ray, your mind must be white and blank. You are already feeling sleepy. Do you hear me?
Clive: Yes.
Nurse Agnes: Your mind is becoming quite blank. You feel that, don't you? Quite, quite blank.
Clive: Yes. Quite blank.
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Foul Play (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Storm Clouds Cantata
(1934) (uncredited)
Music by Arthur Benjamin
Words by D.B. Wyndham-Lewis
Performed by London Symphony Orchestra
Under the direction of H. Wynn Reeves
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Lorre learns English as Hitch continues to grow as a director
4 July 2017 | by utgard14See all my reviews

One of Alfred Hitchcock's earliest classics, made before he came to Hollywood. A couple's daughter is kidnapped to keep her parents quiet about an assassination plot. The couple is played by Leslie Banks and Edna Best. Banks is good in a role that's a long way from his florid performance in The Most Dangerous Game from a couple of years earlier. Best is impressive in a sympathetic turn. Peter Lorre is menacing and even a little creepy as the leader of the assassins. This was his first English-speaking role (he learned the language while filming). Nice photography from Curt Courant and some fun little creative touches from Hitchcock. The dry humor is blended nicely with the action and suspense. The cult of sun worshippers and The Royal Albert Hall scene are both worthy of Hitch's highlight reel. Perhaps one too many abrupt cuts from one scene to the next, often as a character is in mid-sentence. But clearly Hitch was still honing his craft. At least he was trying things as opposed to the static direction of many of his contemporaries.

Remade in 1956 by Hitchcock himself, with James Stewart and Doris Day. That version is more polished and "Hollywood," and is arguably the more popular of the two. Although neither film is perfect, I prefer this one. It may not have the two decades of advancements in production techniques or the bigger budget of the remake, but it has a tighter plot, shorter runtime, faster pace, darker tone, and it builds suspense without the distracting side stuff of the remake. Plus there's no incongruous scenes of Doris Day singing.


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