Finally!After years of sub-par and downright bootleg
quality transfers of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1934 British classic, The Man Who Knew Too Much, we now have a
presentation.Thanks to The Criterion
Collection, the film has undergone a new digital restoration, and it looks
great.We can finally see a clear
photographic image!Peter Lorre is no
longer blurry and in soft-focus.And the
sound!Thanks to an uncompressed
monaural soundtrack, we can now actually hear the dialogue and understand it,
whereas on previous releases everyone sounded like they were speaking from
inside a barrel.
The Man Who Knew
Too Much was
Hitchcock’s first hugely successful talkie.In fact, Man was the number
one picture in the UK in 1934, and it more or less introduced America to the
Master of Suspense when it was imported across the pond.So, in many ways, The Man Who Knew Too Much was Hitch’s breakthrough to a worldwide
audience.And it’s such a good story
that he decided to remake it in Hollywood twenty-two years later.Film historians like to argue about which
version is better.As the director
himself said, the first one was the work of a “talented beginner” and the
second version was that of a “professional.”Regardless, the 1934 edition is hugely entertaining and a worthwhile
addition to any cinema buff’s collection.
picture also marks the first English-language appearance by Peter Lorre, who
had recently escaped from Nazi Germany.While making Man, he was
learning English and legend has it that he recited his lines phonetically
without truly understanding their meaning.If that’s truly the case, then his performance is remarkable; he’s one
of Hitchcock’s best villains.Leslie
Banks and Edna Best are the protagonists, and while they are no Jimmy Stewart
and Doris Day, they carry the film along marvelously.
include a terrific hour-long 1972 British TV interview with Hitchcock conducted
by Ingrid Bergman’s daughter Pia Lindstrom and film historian William K.
Everson.The disk is worth the price for
that alone.There’s a new
interview/appreciation from Guillermo del Toro, audio excerpts from Francois
Truffaut’s classic interview with the master, a new audio commentary by film
historian Philip Kemp, and the usual thick booklet full of photos and an essay
by Farran Smith Nehme.