The Man Who Knew Too Much

(Alfred Hitchcock, USA, 1956)


Alfred Hitchcock's Hollywood remake of his 1934 British film has prompted strikingly different interpretations since its re-release in 1984.

For some, this tale of an all-American family (headed by patriarch Jimmy Stewart) under threat in exotically dangerous un-American locations appears to be a perfectly conservative fable about the restoration of the status quo.

For others, what matters is the strength and autonomy granted Doris Day as the mother, and the film's message of rising above fatalism to change the course of events.

Whichever line you take, it's an exciting, brilliantly constructed thriller – with a restaurant scene, in particular, showing the finesse with which Hitchcock played on the exquisitely tense embarrassment of private events occurring in public spaces.

MORE Hitchcock: The Birds, Family Plot, Lifeboat, Rear Window, Strangers on a Train, Vertigo, Shadow of a Doubt

© Adrian Martin January 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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