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Sight and Sound (1999) - Reviews: "The Man Who Knew Too Much"




The Man Who Knew Too Much

Reviewed by Jonathan Coe


On holiday with their daughter Betty in St Moritz, Bob and Jill Lawrence fall in with three strangers: a French skier called Louis Bernard, a crack marksman called Ramon, and Mr Abbott, who always carries a gently chiming watch. Bernard is assassinated while dancing with Jill, but leaves behind a note referring to 'G Barbor' of Wapping and 'A Hall'. Shortly after reading it, Bob receives a phone call telling him that Betty has been kidnapped and will die if he reveals its contents.

At home in London, the Lawrences learn Bernard was a secret agent who was trying to prevent the assassination of a diplomat in London. Bob goes to Wapping with his friend Clive and they find that 'G Barbor' is a dentist whose surgery is being used as a front by Ramon and Mr Abbott. They follow them to a chapel, where a fight ensues and Bob glimpses a concert ticket in Ramon's pocket. He realises that A Hall' must be the Albert Hall, and tells Clive to phone Jill with instructions to go there.

At the Albert Hall concert, Jill screams just before the fatal crash of cymbals which is meant to be Ramon's signal to fire at the diplomat. His shot misses and he escapes, but the police follow him to the spies' hiding place. There is a shootout, during which Bob is injured and the captive Betty climbs out on to the roof with Ramon. The police marksman won't fire at him for fear of hurting Betty, so Jill fires instead and kills him with one bullet. Abbott hides but is given away by t...