The Man Who Knew Too Much

120 minutes

Alfred Hitchcock's 1956 film has some of the bluntness of a religious tract; it's sort of a "Handbook on Christian Marriage." James Stewart and Doris Day are the middle-class Americans caught up in an exotic foreign intrigue: their marriage represents an imbalance of reason and emotion, repression and expression, and secularism and faith. When their son is kidnapped, Hitchcock clearly characterizes it as an act of God meant to test their union. The film is uncharacteristically rigid and pious for Hitchcock; it feels more like a work of duty than conviction. Despite the many famous set pieces the film contains (the assassination in Algiers, the attempt at the Albert Hall), the most impressive sequence, technically and dramatically, is a quiet one in which Stewart tells Day that their child has been taken. With Bernard Miles and Brenda de Banzie.

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