Review: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)


Good lord that dress with the buttons down the back is hideous, freaking hideous!

Written By: Charles Bennett, Emlyn Williams & D.B. Wyndham-Lewis
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock

I am an unabashed fan of Alfred Hitchcock, but I have always been aware of his capability to make bad films along with his many great films. However, The Man Who Knew Too Much is infuriating because it isn’t bad, it’s mediocre. The structure of a good Sir Hitchcock yarn is in place, but missing is anything resembling actual suspense, good dialogue, or comedy. In its place are laughably bad effects, although I suppose they do unintentionally provide the comedy, a storyline that never quite makes sense, and characters that are droll and boring.

The drollness and boring nature of The Man Who Knew Too Much are what leads its descent into mediocrity. I’m not one to say a movie is bad just because it is boring, but The Man Who Knew Too Much was so boring that I feel it can be slighted because of that negative. It attempts to build and build to some sort of suspense, but that build never gels together, the suspense never comes, and the climactic scenes end up being rather trite and by the numbers. I know boring because I am quite the self-admitted boring individual, and The Man Who Knew Too Much could proudly sit next to me at the dinner table reserved for things that are boring.

I’m not willing to slag on the effects that much, because while they were hilariously bad, the movie was also made on a shoestring budget and they did the best they could do. Although, something I wish all filmmakers would take into account is their budget. If you know you have very little money to work with then don’t try to shoot scenes, like the ski jump one, that you know you can’t make look decent with the money you have. Avoid those scenes and invest your money elsewhere so that you end up with a better picture. Of course The Man Who Knew Too Much did give us one of the most unintentionally funny scenes ever put to film with the chair tossing extravaganza in the church, so it does have that going for it.

The framework is there, the small elements of Alfred Hitchcock direction that will blossom in upcoming pictures are also present. But, they will be present in much better pictures to come. I wouldn’t recommend The Man Who Knew Too Much, having not seen Sir Hitchcock’s own remake I can’t speak for whether to give that one a go either, if you are jonesing from some Sir Hitchcock choose any of his other much better pictures instead of The Man Who Knew Too Much.



Bill Thompson

One response to “Review: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

  1. Pingback: Director’s Chair 11… Day Three |

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