One of my all-time favorite Hitchcock films is his 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much.
The first time I remember hearing about it was probably early in 1957. We were still living on the farm in those days and I was seven years old, too young apparently to be taken to see a Hitchcock picture.
But I clearly remember my mother talking about it the day after she saw it at the Neptune Theater in Richland. The Neptune usually got movies about six months to a year after they were released, so early 1957 sounds right.
I still recall Mom talking and laughing about the scene in the Marrakesh restaurant where Jimmy Stewart can’t figure out what to do with his legs because the table is so low.
She also talked about seeing my cousin Kathy at the movie house, because she thought Kathy, who would have been about eight at the time, was not old enough to attend such a suspenseful film. Obviously Kathy’s folks, Neal and Fumiko, felt otherwise.
Flash forward a few years and sometime around 1964 when the film was first shown on television, I captured the whole thing on tape. That’s the old-fashioned reel-to-reel audio tape. Yes, I already had my notorious tape recorder which was to prove so useful in so many different ways.
So I certainly have a history with the film.
It has everything that Hitchcock’s best films offer: humor, suspense, romance, exotic locales, music.
And what music!
In addition to an Oscar-winning pop song (“Que Sera Sera”) that is carefully tied into the plot, it features one of Bernard Herrmann’s best scores, plus an extended sequence in the Royal Albert Hall featuring no dialog, just a performance of Arthur Benjamin’s Storm Cloud Cantata conducted by Herrmann; it is one of the most suspenseful scenes Hitchcock ever created.
Then there are those little bits that situate the film in its time period. Like the shot of the phone book with realistic-looking phone numbers, rather than the silly 555s that we are fed today.
I just watched the movie again, probably for the first time in close to ten years. It still retains its power to grab me after all this time. Definitely a classic!