The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) – 4.5/5

Wow, what a movie. Suspenseful and well written/directed/acted, with Hitchcock and co. really firing on all cylinders here. The film is long and not without its faults, namely due to a plot that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and some weird comedic moments that don’t quite work. But still, the film is extremely engaging, unpredictable, and so well acted, which isn’t too much of a surprise given the presence of the always reliable Jimmy Stewart.

I loved how utterly unpredictable this was. You don’t get a good sense of just what the hell is going on until almost an hour in, and even then you’re still not quite sure, just like the main characters. And even though some aspects of the story are a bit of a stretch, and Stewart’s character seems to figure things out a bit too quickly and thoroughly for comfort, it’s still enjoyable. Just ignore the gnawing feelings of disbelief that creep up from time to time and you’ll be fine.

The pacing of this movie is also interesting. It’s slow, thoughtful, and may bore some, but I didn’t mind it at all. The film is so absorbing it borders on being hypnotic, which comes not just from the film making necessarily but also the suspenseful writing. You can’t help but keep watching, if only to see what further craziness the plot will engage in. I also admired how the film became more than just a mystery after a certain point, choosing to show **SPOILERS** the grief and anguish experienced by two parents who lose a child. Even though the child isn’t dead, the process of grief is the same I imagine, and is handled extremely well by the two leads, especially by Doris Day who almost steals the show from Stewart at times, playing one heck of a strong female character throughout. **END SPOILERS**  It really adds an unexpected emotional element to what up to that point had already been an excellent suspense thriller.

Overall, great film, one of Hitchcock’s best, finally, after my being dissatisfied with almost all of his supposed classics. This film isn’t even considered a classic but sure blows overrated crap like “Vertigo” and “North by Northwest” out of the water. Once again, great directing, acting, writing, so much so that you’ll be willing to forgive the occasional lapses in logic of some of the plot. Definitely worth watching.

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