Cast & Crew
Brenda De Banzie
While on an extended European vacation following a medical conference in Paris, American physician Ben McKenna and his family are traveling on a bus in French Morocco when his young son Hank accidentally pulls the veil off a Moslem woman. An international incident is avoided when Louis Bernard, a Frenchman, intercedes on the McKennas' behalf. While Ben is happy to tell Louis all about his family and their planned excursions in Marrakech, his wife Jo is suspicious of the Frenchman's constant questioning. That night, Louis meets the McKennas in their hotel room for dinner, but suddenly cancels their supper plans when Rien, a hired assassin, appears at the McKennas' door. Later, at an Arab restaurant, Ben and Jo meet a British couple, the Draytons, who claim to be fans of Jo, who was a well-known singer prior to her marriage to Ben. The next morning, the McKennas and Draytons meet at the local marketplace. The usual frivolity of the market crowd is broken when a man being chased by the police collapses in Ben's arms, having been fatally stabbed in the back. It is Louis, disguised as an Arab, who, with his dying breaths, tells the physician that there is a plot to assassinate an unnamed statesman in London. While the McKennas are taken to the police station for questioning, Mrs. Drayton agrees to care for Hank in their absence. In the midst of being interrogated, Ben receives a phone call from a kidnapper, threatening his son with grievous harm if he tells the authorities what Louis said to him. After giving the high-strung Jo a sedative, Ben informs his wife that their only son has been abducted. Aware that the Draytons left Marrakech on a private plane, Ben and Jo decide to go to London and search for Hank there. Greeted at the airport by both Jo's fans and the police, the McKennas are interviewed by Inspector Buchanan of Scotland Yard, who tells them that he is well aware of the reason why their son was kidnapped. Despite his wife's pleas, Ben refuses to tell the inspector what Louis said to him, claiming that the British secret agent had spoken to him in French. Jo then receives a phone call from Mrs. Drayton, who allows the McKennas to briefly speak to Hank. Checking into a London hotel, the McKennas attempt to call Ambrose Chappell, the name Louis told Ben, but they are interrupted by the arrival of Jo's old acquaintances: Val and Helen Parnell, Jan Peterson and Cindy Fontaine. While Jo stays behind with her friends, Ben sneaks out through the hotel's service entrance to meet Chappell. At the Ambrose taxidermy shop, Ben is slow to realize that neither Ambrose Sr. nor Ambrose Jr. is involved in his son's kidnapping, and is forced to make a quick escape before the police arrive. Meanwhile, at the hotel, Jo realizes that "Ambrose Chapel" is a place, not a person, and she is soon met there by Ben. Inside the church, Hank is being held captive by the Draytons, with the help of their assistant, Edna. Also there is Rien, who is being instructed by the Draytons as to the exact moment during an Albert Hall concert that he is to commit the assassination: at a climactic cymbal crash in the performance of a cantata. The McKennas enter the chapel just as the service, administered by Mr. Drayton, is about to begin. While Ben stays inside, Jo leaves to call the police, so the Draytons cut short the service. Hearing his son's voice, Ben rushes to Hank's aid, only to be knocked unconscious by one of Draytons' henchmen. By the time the police arrive at the chapel, the Draytons have made their escape with Hank. Refusing to enter the locked church without a search warrant, the police leave, so Jo calls the police station, begging for help. She asks to speak to Buchanan, but is told that he is at an important diplomatic function at a concert at Albert Hall. When the policeman refuses to contact Buchanan, she heads off alone to Albert Hall to find him. When Rien sees her there, the assassin reminds Jo that Hank's safety depends on her silence. Meanwhile, Ben escapes the locked chapel by climbing the church bell's rope and also makes his way to the concert. Realizing that Rien is about to shoot a visiting foreign prime minister, Jo screams, causing the startled assassin to merely wound the dignitary in the arm. Ben then jumps Rien, and in his attempt to escape, the assassin falls from the balcony to his death. Back at the embassy, the Draytons are informed by the ambassador that their assassination attempt on the prime minister has failed. Despite Mrs. Drayton's objection, the ambassador then orders her husband to kill Hank. With the police unable to go into the embassy due to diplomatic immunity, the McKennas enter alone, as the invited guest of the grateful prime minister. Jo is asked to perform for the guests, and her singing voice is soon recognized by Hank. Under Mrs. Drayton's instruction, the young boy whistles along with her singing, guiding Ben to the room in which his son is being held. Mr. Drayton then appears, but rather than killing them, he decides to use Ben and Hank as human shields during his escape from the embassy. As they make their way down the grand staircase, Ben pushes Drayton, and the spy is killed when he falls on his own gun. The reunited McKennas then head back to their hotel room, where Jo's friends have been waiting the entire time.
Brenda De Banzie
Mahin S. Shahrivar
C. O. "doc" Erickson
Cecil R. Foster Kemp
John P. Fulton
John Michael Hayes
D. B. Wyndham-lewis
D. B. Wyndham-lewis
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) took its time getting started. Producer David O. Selznick bought the rights to the original movie in 1941 and urged his staff director Alfred Hitchcock to craft a U.S. version. At the time, Hitchcock thought he had no new spin to put on the story and declined. By January 1955 however, Hitchcock was his own producer and felt the time was finally right. Just prior to this, he and his wife had gone on a 28th wedding anniversary tour of Europe and made a detour to Morocco. The location led Hitchcock to imagine the reaction of a vacationing American couple stumbling into the middle of foreign intrigue.
Since Hitchcock's then star screenwriter John Michael Hayes (Rear Window, 1954, To Catch a Thief, 1955) was busy, Hitchcock began putting the story together with old friend Angus MacPhail. James Stewart was connected to the project from the beginning and, for the wife, Hitchcock wanted Doris Day as an important part of the plot involved the mother being a singer. Without giving away too much, a section of the story is based on an old legend concerning Richard The Lionheart. Captured on his return from the Crusades, Richard was discovered when his troubadour went outside the castles where Richard might be held and sang the first verse of Richard's favorite song. When Richard joined in with the second verse, the troubadour knew he had found his king.
Finally available, Hayes began writing the screenplay in March and elaborated on the tension caused by the wife having stifled her stage career for home and family. He based Doris Day's character on the then popular singer Jo Stafford and, as comic relief, gave her show business friends based on actual theatrical figures in London.
Hayes barely completed his first draft as Hitchcock, actors and company left for London and finally Morocco where filming began on April 29th. The shooting there was not only on the set. Riots broke out against the French protectorate that ruled the country and the production barely escaped Morocco before the French administrator was assassinated.
London followed with another month of filming, mostly centered on the Royal Albert Hall sequence. Hitchcock asked his new musical collaborator, Bernard Herrmann, to not only conduct the orchestra on screen but write a new piece as well. Herrmann accepted the former offer but declined the latter, re-orchestrating Arthur Benjamin's "Storm Cantata" from the original movie. Meanwhile the important song, needed for part of the film's story, was commissioned from songwriters Jay Livingston and Ray Evans. Asked for something with an "international" feel, they supplied "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)" that had been inspired by the movie The Barefoot Contessa (1954). The song would provide The Man Who Knew Too Much with its only Academy Award®.
Hitchcock's remake would be a huge box-office success but it did cost him. Screenwriter Hayes was infuriated when Hitchcock submitted both Hayes' and MacPhail's names to receive credit for the screenplay. Hayes demanded the credit be sent for arbitration to the Writers Guild of America who judged Hayes the sole author. Though he was successful in his bid for credit, it caused a never-healed rift between Hitchcock and the man many feel was his best screenwriter. Their last collaboration, however, remains one of the most popular of Hitchcock's films and one of the most successful movie remakes.
Director/Producer: Alfred Hitchcock
Associate Producer: Herbert Coleman
Screenplay: John Michael Hayes based on the screenplay by Charles Bennett and D.B. Wyndham-Lewis
Cinematography: Robert Burks
Art Direction: Henry Bumstead, Hal Pereira
Music: Bernard Herrmann
Editing: George Tomasini
Cast: James Stewart (Dr. Ben McKenna), Doris Day (Jo McKenna), Brenda De Banzie (Lucy Drayton), Bernard Miles (Edward Drayton), Ralph Truman (Buchanan), Daniel Gelin (Louis Bernard)
C-120 min. Letterboxed.
by Brian Cady
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
If you ever get hungry, our garden back home is full of snails. We tried everything to get rid of them. We never thought of a Frenchman!- Hank McKenna
You have muddled everything from the start, taking that child with you from Marrakesh. Don't you realise that Americans dislike having their children stolen?- The Ambassador
in the Moroccan marketplace watching the acrobats with his back to the camera just before the murder.
Bernard Herrmann (the composer of the score) can be seen conducting the orchestra during the Albert Hall sequence.
The plot calls for a man (Daniel Gelin in the role of Louis Bernard) to be discovered as "not Moroccan" because he was wearing black makeup. The makeup artists couldn't find a black substance that would come off easily, and so they painted the fingers of the other man (Jimmy Stewart) white, so that he would leave pale streaks on the other man's skin (according to Pat Hitchcock O'Connell, this idea was suggested by Daniel Gelin).
The Albert Hall sequence lasts 12 minutes without a single word of dialogue and consists of 124 shots.
The film was unavailable for decades because its rights (together with four other pictures of the same period) were bought back by Hitchcock and left as part of his legacy to his daughter. They've been known for long as the infamous "5 lost Hitchcocks" amongst film buffs, and were re-released in theatres around 1984 after a 30-year absence. The others are Rear Window (1954), Rope (1948), Trouble with Harry, The (1955), and Vertigo (1958)
The working title of this film was Into Thin Air. The Man Who Knew Too Much opens with the following written statement: "A single crash of Cymbals and how it rocked the lives of an American Family."
According to the file on the film in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library, The Man Who Knew Too Much originally was to be produced by the studio and Patron, Inc., a company to be jointly owned by actors James Stewart and Doris Day, along with producer-director Alfred Hitchcock. When the film finally went before the cameras, however, the production company was Filwite Productions, Inc., which was co-owned by Hitchcock and Stewart. It has not been determined why Day was not included in the final production deal.
According to production charts found in the Paramount Collection, shooting on The Man Who Knew Too Much began on May 12, 1955 in Marrakech. Filming on location in Morocco was completed on May 20, 1955, and the production then moved to London, where it resumed filming on May 25, 1955. After finishing shooting in London on June 21, 1955, the production returned to the Paramount studio lot in Hollywood, where interiors commenced filming on June 25, 1955 and ended on August 24, 1955. In all, The Man Who Knew Too Much finished production thirty-seven days behind schedule, including six shutdown days. Paramount internal memos show that the film went well over its original budget, costing $1,834,000, exclusive of the stars' and director's salaries.
According to the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, writer Angus McPhail worked on the screenplay to The Man Who Knew Too Much. In a letter dated October 12, 1955, McPhail protested his lack of screen credit on the film to the Screen Writers Guild, arguing that he worked on the project from January 25, 1955 to April 25, 1955. At that time, screenwriter John Michael Hayes was brought onto the project, and the draft of the screenplay dated May 7, 1955 contained both writers' names. McPhail further argued that he continued to work on the project, making changes to the 7 May draft between May 9, 1955 and June 7, 1955, and thus deserved first screenwriter credit. Hayes, however, wrote on August 8, 1955 that he did not believe McPhail deserved co-writer credit and the Screen Writers Guild agreed with his opinion, granting Hayes the lone screenwriting credit. The Man Who Knew Too Much was the fourth and final film collaboration between Hitchcock and Hayes.
Hollywood Reporter news items include Edith Russell, Greta Ullman, June Wood, Edna Smith, Frieda Stoll, Howard Beals, Walter Bacon, Sybil Bacon, Ruth Barnell, Estelle Bennett, Arline Bletcher, Helen Bruno, Henriette Burns, Vicky Coe, Adele Corliss, May Cruze, Millie Fitzgerald, Charles Dunbar, Mary Adam Hayes, Marion Lessing, Ann Kunde, Boots Kaye and Lottie Fletcher in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. Hitchcock makes his customary cameo by appearing in the Moroccan marketplace, watching the acrobats. Los Angeles Times reported that the Los Angeles premiere of The Man Who Knew Too Much was held on May 22, 1956, as a benefit for the University Religious Conferences. The film received the 1956 Academy Award for Best Song for the Jay Livingston-Ray Evans composition "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)." The song became a trademark hit for singer-actress Doris Day, who performed it again in two other films, M-G-M's 1960 release Please Don't Eat the Daisies and M-G-M's 1966 film The Glass-Bottomed Boat (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70). Day also used it as the theme song for her 1960s CBS television series. In 1963, New York Times reported that Paramount was reissuing The Man Who Knew Too Much as a double feature with another Hitchcock film, The Trouble with Harry (see below).
In 1965, Hollywood Reporter reported that Hitchcock and Stewart had filed suit against Paramount for $4,000,000, arguing that their eight-year agreement with the studio had ended and that Paramount had breached their copyright by televising the film. The director and actor also requested that the film's original negative be returned to them by the studio. The final disposition of this lawsuit has not been determined, but the film remained out of commercial distribution for many years. The Man Who Knew Too Much was one of five Hitchcock productions purchased by Universal in 1983, and was re-released by that studio in January 1984.
The Man Who Knew Too Much is a remake of a 1935 Gaumont-British Picture Corp. production of the same name, starring Leslie Banks and Edna Best and directed by Hitchcock (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). Charles Bennett and D. B. Wyndham-Lewis, whose onscreen credits for the 1956 version reads "Based on a story by," wrote the original story for the 1935 version. Although the two films have a number of differences, for example, changing the site of the kidnapping from Switzerland to Morocco, the plots are quite similar. In discussing his work on the two films in an interview published by modern sources, Hitchcock stated: "Let's say that the first version was the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional."
Re-released in United States on Video May 23, 1995
Released in United States Summer June 1956
Re-released in United States on Video May 23, 1995
Released in United States Summer June 1956