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The Journal of Film Music (2003) - Grand Illusion: The "Storm Cloud" Music in Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much"




A musical composition utilized in two cinematic versions of "The Man Who Knew Too Much," both directed by Alfred Hitchcock, is analyzed and critiqued in detail. The "Storm Cloud Cantata," composed by Arthur Benjamin, is a key element in each film's climactic episode, which occurs during a concert at London's Royal Albert Hall where a murder is planned to take place. Wierzbicki argues that the cantata used in Hitchcock's original "The Man Who Knew Too Much," released in 1934, is superior to the longer version included in the 1956 remake. The cantata as composed by Benjamin in 1934, although lasting a mere four minutes and twelve seconds, seems to be a much longer and suspenseful piece due to its musical complexity and its effective placement within the Royal Albert Hall scene, while the 1956 version, although longer at nine minutes and seven seconds, suffers from repeated musical motifs and thus lacks the same impact. Bernard Herrmann orchestrated the 1956 cantata, which is based on Benjamin's composition but differs from it in several important ways.