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Motion Picture Daily (27/Dec/1934) - The Man Who Knew Too Much



Looking 'Em Over

"The Man Who Knew Too Much"

(Gaumont British)

London, Dec. 4. — This is the British equivalent to gangster stuff — with a difference. Its big scene stages what amounts to a reproduction of the "Sidney Street siege" of pre-war days, when the London police and military shot up an anarchist gang in an East End house. Of equal importance is the high level of the characterization and the strong vein of humor, which is much more than the conventional relief.

It is a workmanlike production in all details and a lot of the credit is due to Alfred Hitchcock's direction. Hitchcock made good films in England when every good British film was a miracle, and this one shows that he still knows how to get the sort of acting from British players that they often only deliver when they get to Hollywood.

There is good plot value. Holiday making in Switzerland, a Londoner becomes possessed of information which would enable the British police to stamp on an assassination plot. His child is kidnapped and he is warned that she will die if he divulges the secret. So he decides to play a lone hand, back in London.

The chase leads him to Wapping, where he falls into the gang's clutches, but gets a warning through to his wife that the murder is to take place at a concert in the Albert Hall. She spoils the murderer's aim and the celebrity is only wounded. The police besiege the Wapping retreat and there is a battle, ending the right way.

Production and box office values are both high. Using the 8,000-seat Albert Hall itself as his studio, Hitchcock has put over a really big scene in the depiction of the attempted assassination and all through maintains suspense at a high level. There is real laughter in secondary scenes, notably in the hero's encounter with a crook dentist, whom he gases, and in the predicament in which his friend and he find themselves at a "Church" service which is part of the gang's camouflage.

Acting, in the hands of Leslie Banks, Edna Best, Peter Lorre, Frank Vosper, Nova Pilbeam and Hugh Wakefield chiefly, is worthy of the imaginative direction, and even the most minor characters are carefully studied. An all-round good picture of its type. Running time, 80 minutes. "G.."