Film Review: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Also known as: Into Thin Air (working title), Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (complete title)
Release Date: April 29th, 1956 (Cannes)
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Written by: John Michael Hayes, Charles Bennett, D. B. Wyndham-Lewis
Music by: Bernard Herrmann
Cast: James Stewart, Doris Day, Brenda de Banzie, Bernard Miles, Christopher Olsen, Daniel Gelin, Reggie Nalder, Carolyn Jones

Filwite Productions, Paramount Pictures, 120 Minutes

Review:

“Remember, you will only have time for just one shot. If you need another, the risk is yours.” – Edward Drayton

I think that the 1950s were my favorite decade for Hitchcock movies and this is another really enjoyable one that just adds to that hefty pile of cinematic greatness.

This one also stars two of my mum’s favorite leading stars: James Stewart and Doris Day. That being said, this is also the first really dramatic role I’ve seen for Doris Day, as I mostly saw her comedies and musical movies as a kid.

This is also the second film that Alfred Hitchcock made with the name The Man Who Knew Too Much. This isn’t a remake of the black and white ’30s version of the picture, as both are very different. I’m not sure why we reused the name and it probably creates some confusion for those who haven’t seen them. I plan to watch that ’30s one in the near future though, so I can compare the two and because it features Peter Lorre, a favorite actor of mine.

Anyway, this is a story about a husband and wife traveling to Morocco with their son. They initially get confused for another married couple, who are there as spies. In this confusion, a good guy is murdered and the husband is taken into the police station for questioning. The couple leaves their son with another couple they met on the trip but soon realize that this was a grave mistake and that their friends were actually the spies. The son is held hostage, as the couple does everything they can to try and get him back.

This is a great thriller in the way that any fan of Hitchcock’s work should expect. While it’s not my favorite of this era or with James Stewart, it’s still a damn fine picture that keeps you on the edge of your seat once the real plot kicks in about a half hour into the proceedings.

It’s superbly acted but that should go without saying. Doris Day was really impressive in this and I’m glad that I got to see her outside of the type of roles she’s most known for. I also really liked Stewart kind of being a real fish out of water but rising to the occasion and being a real hero to his son.

1956’s version of The Man Who Knew Too Much was a solid ride that wasn’t predictable and ended up giving the viewer a very satisfying and emotional finale.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other Alfred Hitchcock thrillers.

Film Review: The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)

Release Date: June 9th, 1966
Directed by: Frank Tashlin
Written by: Everett Freeman
Music by: Frank De Vol
Cast: Doris Day, Rod Taylor, Arthur Godfrey, Dom DeLuise

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 110 Minutes

the-glass-bottom-boatReview:

When I was at my mum’s house over the holidays, I decided to visit her movie library. I grabbed a couple titles of films I had never seen and that she also recommended. I’ve never been a huge Doris Day fan but I figured that due to the synopsis and the inclusion of Rod Taylor and Dom DeLuise, that I’d check out The Glass Bottom Boat. Plus, it looked like it had a fun Tiki vibe mixed in with being a 60s spy film parody – kind of like those Matt Helm movies but without the awesomeness that is Dean Martin.

I enjoyed The Glass Bottom Boat for the most part. The gags were decent and the overall lightheartedness is something missing from movies these days.

While it had a high emphasis on sex, it still felt innocent and family friendly. Besides, nothing more than a kiss really happens and it isn’t as overtly sexual as the Bond films or the aforementioned Matt Helm movies.

However, you do see a male character in glorious drag and there is a scene where two men end up in bed together. The scene is the result of a prank but the awkward implications are apparent when they are discovered: champagne cork popping at the perfect moment.

Doris Day did a good job as the lead of the film and Taylor was as debonair as ever. The highlight of the film for me was DeLuise, who played a wimpy and bumbling character that was forced into being a spy by the main villain of the story. He was great and it made me appreciate his comedic abilities even more.

The Glass Bottom Boat is also a beautiful film. The landscapes and the set design are otherworldly. Sure, it parodies the popular spy genre of its day but the color palette and the style of this film are still spectacular.

This is far from a great movie but it is a fun romp guaranteed to bring a bit of joy to any rainy day.

Rating: 6/10