Film Review: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

Release Date: December 9th, 1934 (London premiere)
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Written by: Charles Bennett, D. B. Wyndham-Lewis, Edwin Greenwood, A.R. Rawlinson
Music by: Arthur Benjamin
Cast: Leslie Banks, Edna Best, Peter Lorre, Nova Pilbeam, Frank Vosper

Gaumont British Picture Corporation, 75 Minutes

Review:

“Tell her they may soon be leaving us. Leaving us for a long, long journey. How is it that Shakespeare says? “From which no traveler returns.” Great poet.” – Abbott

Alfred Hitchock made a film in the 1950s that shared this same title. However, that one is not a remake of this one and both are very different stories. However, the title applies well to both.

This was made while Hitchcock was still primarily working in the United Kingdom before he blew up and moved his life to the glamorous, magical land of Hollywood.

The story does have similar beats to the other one, as it features a family man learning some secrets he shouldn’t have and to keep him quiet, the bad guys kidnap his kid. Apart from that, though, this is a unique tale.

The main baddie in this is played by Peter Lorre just a few years after his legendary performance in Fritz Lang’s M and before he, like Hitchcock, made his way to America to ply his trade and reach iconic status.

I like Lorre in this, a lot. It’s not too dissimilar from his other villainous characters but there’s just something extra weasel-y about him here. As should be expected, he knocks his performance out of the park.

I think that Lorre steals the show but the two leads, Leslie Banks and Edna Best are both on their A-game, as well. However, the entire cast is really good and I think it shows how well Hitchcock was able to direct his cast, even in his earliest movies.

My only real complaint about the film is that the sound editing was poor and choppy. However, that has more to do with this being made in 1934 and having to deal with those limitations than it does the craftsmanship of Hitchcock or his crew.

1934’s The Man Who Knew Too Much isn’t on the same level as its later namesake. However, it’s still a good Hitchcock suspense movie with good performances and a nice pace.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Alfred Hitchcock film’s from his earlier days while he was still working primarily in the UK.