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The Times (27/Apr/1953) - Entertainments: The Man Who Knew Too Much

(c) The Times (27/Apr/1953)



The Man Who Knew Too Much — The National Film Theatre, having finished with the great comedians or the silent days, now turns its attention to the work of Mr. Alfred Hitchcock. A seven weeks' season has been planned; each programme will include one feature film, shown in its entirety, together with a number of excerpts from other films of his. There is, of course, a ready-made label inscribed "Master of Suspense" at hand for criticism to tie round Mr. Hitchcock's neck, and it is difficult to see how the description can be bettered. Over a long period of time, since The Lodger in 1926, Mr. Hitchcock has indeed shown himself a master in manipulating the twin sensations of fear and suspense. He is more in sympathy with the Buchan type of adventure-thriller than with the pure detective story worked out with cross-word puzzle neatness, and he has frequently made up for the essential artificiality of his material by his expert knowledge of the resources and limitations of the medium in which he works.

The Man Who Knew Too Much made in 1935, which opens the programme with extracts from The Lady Vanishes, is typical good Hitchcock and survives the passing of time remarkably well. The tricks, if indeed it is fair to describe as tricks the results of a technique in cutting which would not disgrace the Russians, prove as effective as ever, and the final sequence, which recalls the battle of Sidney Street, is a triumph. Leslie Banks supplies the Bulldog Drummond element in the story, Mr. Hugh Wakefield, as a distant relation of Bertie Wooster, gives him Woosterish support, and Mr. Peter Lorre, as the villain, proves that Hollywood never made the best of his abilities.