The Man Who Knew Too Much (Enhanced Edition) 1934
Picture the scene. Not so long after an Olympic competition has finally ended, hidden nearby, a shrouded saboteur shoots one of its contestants dead. However, before said contestant can kick the bucket, he quickly whispers the location of a secret document to one of his fellow competitors, who then tells her husband, thus forcing him to retrieve it as soon as possible.
Now I hope you've taken all of that in, folks. Because what I want you to factor in next, is to imagine that the competitor is a great lady called Jill Lawrence (Edna Best), her husband is a nice chap called Bob Lawrence (Leslie Banks), and their daughter, Betty (Nova Pilbeam), gets kidnapped because of what the
Lawrence's have in
Oh, yeah! Straight up! This is one of those adventures. One where Bill and his pal, Clive (Hugh Wakefield), travel from Switzerland to London, and then from a stately home to a dentists chair, figuring out along the way that the mastermind behind this dastardly scheme is none other than two foreign spies known as Abbott and Ramon (Peter Lorre and Frank Vosper), who both want to kill a dignitary visiting Old London Town.
Still. That's most probably why what next transpires all goes to pot when Bill and Clive walk into a church. As a religion looks mean - the Albert Hall is a scream - a siege turns into a shootout - and at the end of the day family is what it's really all about.
Now if I had to sum up 'The Man Who Knew too Much' in one pithy phrase, I'd say that this great film has 'The three C's, baby'. Yeah. 'The three C's'.
As for the second 'C' on the other hand, I'd use the word 'Character' -- because this movie has it in spades. From how certain characters behave, to how certain characters speak. Bar none, this flick is chock full of 'character'.
The last 'C', though, is a word I didn't think I would assign to a slice of cinema made in 1934. And that is because this 'C' is the word 'Captivating'. Yeah. I'm not messing about, dear reader. All the way through this film I couldn't help but become captivated by the story it was trying to tell. Part's of it were your fairly linear murder mystery. Whilst other parts of it were your espionage type 'film noir'. With all of the different shades of black and white clearly defined in a tapestry made from shades of grey.
Hey! Do you know what? I just thought of something else I could compare 'The Man Who Knew too Much' to.
No. Not me, silly. A comic book.
Well, if you've picked up this series in the past, you might have a pretty good idea what I mean by this comparison. If you haven't, though, try to imagine a selection of panels on a comic book page, with the tones disaturated, the story enveloping, and the overall sentiment timely and warm.
Oh, yeah! I suppose that's another way of summing up 'The Man Who Knew too Much'! Warm. Very warm. Just like my pithy expression I used at the start of this review -- 'The three C's, baby'. Yeah. The three C's
THE RATING: A-