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Perth West Australia (02/Jul/1935) - Entertainments: A New British Success





"The Man Who Knew Too Much."

It takes something exceptional in British films to arouse enthusiasm in the United States, unless there are several American stars involved. But "The Man who Knew too Much," which was privately screened yesterday, is a product of the Gaumont-British studios, which has, without including the name of a single American actor or actress of note, secured a definite measure of success in that country.

The story smacks of Oppenheim and of Wallace in its wide field of European intrigue an assassination, and there is enough suspense and romance and incident to capture and hold the attention of the picture-going public. The leads are taken by Edna Best, Nova Pilbeam, Leslie Banks, all of whom are well-known and popular on the English stage and in British films, and Pierre Lorre, the celebrated Continental actor, who startled the film world in the German picture"'M," based on the Dusseldorf "Ripper" crimes.

Charles Bennett, an accomplished plot maker, and D. B. Wyndham Lewis, the original "Beachcomber" of the "Daily Express" and satirist of the "Daily Mail" crazy news-reel feature, are the co authors of the story. The producer, who has brought all these accepted artists together and made an attractive composite of their talents, is Alfred Hitchcock, of whom it is said that his genius needed just such an outlet. He has, according to air mail advices received on Sunday, even bettered this film by his latest production, "The Thirty-nine Steps."

"The Man Who Knew Too Much" is gripping and suspenseful melodrama. Pierre Lorre (Abbott) is the "master-criminal" and leader of a gang of nihilists. Lawrence and Jill, the hero and heroine of this story, first meet Abbott and his lieutenant) Levine, at St. Moritz, where their holiday is marred by the murder of Louis (Pierre Fresnay), who, by disclosing the whereabouts of a certain document, embroils Lawrence and Jill in the machinations of the nihilists whose prime intention is the murder of a foreign statesman visiting London. Lawrence becomes the man who knows too much when he secures the paper and his daughter Betty (Nova Pilbeam) is held hostage for his silence as to its contents.

The scene moves to London, where the father and a friend commence the search for Betty. A brilliantly directed scene In a dentist's rooms leads the searchers to the headquarters of the gang in the "Tabernacle of the Sun." The action moves rapidly from this point, culminating in a striking reproduction of the "Battle or Sidney-street" of some years ago. Throughout Mr. Hitchcock shows a sense of pace, contrast and suspense that every Hollywood director might find profitable to observe; he also cleverly introduced many natural touches and a sufficiency of laughs.

Pierre Lorre is the most impressive of all the characters. Deftly he shows the madman behind the leader of his nihilist gang, and, the audience will receive his pronouncements with a shudder. Leslie Banks has, of course, to act in the way In which all characters in thrillers act. He has to make his feelings apparent to the audience, and he has to blunder foolishly in order to provide the plot with a story. But he does these things convincingly if judged by the standards laid down by the popular novelist. He does not,'however, do impossible things in impossible situations. Miss Best, who has been absent from Perth screens for some time, is most effective as the mother, revealing her anxiety as to her daughter's fate without indulging in the usual hysterics. Cicely Oates, high priestess at the "Tabernacle of the Sun" and the associate of the master criminal, is well cast, and Hugh Wakefield makes the most of his "Watson" part.

"The Man Who Knew Too Much" will begin a season at the New Regent Theatre on Friday.