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The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

This was really a great movie. There was a clear budget jump to this one from Hitchcock's previous films, and just the title card tells it all. Then the filled up theatre and full orchestra. I loved it all.

Favorite parts include the first death of the skier Pierre (Louis Fresnay), the mother Jill (Edna Best) saving her daughter Betty (Nova Pilbeam) by shooting Ramon (Frank Vosper) off the building, and then Peter Lorre.

Speaking of Peter Lorre, I liked that the story didn't rush. An example of this was during the shootout, where Peter Lorre's "team" is "losing," and for a few minutes I was wondering why they don't take Betty hostage. Only until after Nurse Agnes (Cicely Oates) dies does Abbot (Peter Lorre) realize he's losing and take the next step in the plan. Just because the audience can see it doesn't mean he can, and that made for very discipline storytelling whether it was intentional or not.

I'm not quite sure just yet what made this movie clearly more professional than his previous. It could have just been the combination of the more locations, special effects that weren't too obvious, the gun fight and the overall production quality...It was more than that though, the camera moves were precise and hit their marks, no accidents or mistakes to be made.

What's interesting too is it may also have been no gimmicky camera effects—the ones I praise in my other posts. Nothing to point to and go "oh look what he did there!" with camera tricks that draw attention to themselves and counter-intuitively take the viewer out of the story. The interesting part is that those gimmicks may not have been successful, but in the long run, in Hitchcock's education through experimentation—he is a much better director in his later movies because of these trials early on. That is clear.


Can't wait to see the later one with good ol' Jimmy Stew, as Hitchcock describes the two movies in the Truffaut book:

"Let's say the first version is the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional."

This 1934 version certainly looked professional, I assume from getting used to the crudeness of Hitch's older works. Very excited to soon dive into his masterpieces.

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