When Alfred Hitchcock came to America, he was already known as a master filmmaker. However, once he started making Hollywood films, he went from being a master to becoming a legend. Looking back at his European films, it is easy to see how the great director always had it in him, as many of those older films presented the themes that he carried with him throughout his career. “The Man Who Knew Too Much” was one of Hitchcock’s last films in Europe before he came to America.
The movie stars Peter Lorre as an assassin who kidnaps the daughter of a British couple on vacation in Switzerland. The reason for the kidnapping was because the couple met a man who turned out to be a French spy. After his assassination in front of them, he passes on some important information for the wife to deliver to the British consul. Much like later movies, such as “North by Northwest,” this is the classic Hitchcock motif of putting normal people in dangerous situations they have no skills at dealing with.
Interestingly, Hitchcock remade his own film 22 years later, with Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day as the couple.
The Criterion Collection Blu-ray version of this film includes two interviews with Alfred Hitchcock. The first is titled “The Illustrated Hitchcock” and comes from a 1972 television program. The interviews in this segment are 50 minutes long, broken up into sections. The second interview segment is with Francois Truffaut, and comes from the wonderful book “Hitchcock.” This one lasts 23 minutes.
Next up is a nice 18 minute interview with modern day Spanish filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro. The director talks about Hitchcock’s influence on him, the importance of “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” and how this movie influenced Hitchcock’s career. The 2012 interview also breaks down the movie and Del Toro discusses the familiar motifs that Hitchcock used throughout his career.
There is also an audio commentary with historian Philip Kemp, who talks about the history of the movie, the production itself, the era the film was made and a lot of interesting facts about British filmmaking at the time. This is also a brand new commentary, recorded specifically for this Criterion Collection Blu-ray.
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