The Man Who Knew Too Much - Notes
Hitchcock had already made The Man Who Know Too Much in 1934 with the marvelous Peter Lorre as the villain, but owed Paramount a movie in '56 so told the basic story to his Rear Window writer, John Michael Hayes, who immediately wrote this screenplay with absolutely no knowledge of the earlier film.
Once again Jimmy Stewart is the star, one of his less likeable characters, and the blonde this time is the oft-derided Doris Day. Born Doris Mary Ann Von Kappelhoff in 1924, a bad car accident caused a career change from dancer to singer which lead in turn to her breakthrough role as Calamity Jane in 1953. Her role in this movie is probably the most challenging of her career and changed her life thanks to what she saw as maltreatment of animals in the Moroccan scenes. This casual attitude to animal safety culminated in her forming the Doris Day Animal league in Carmel, California which is her main passion to this day. She retired from movies in '68 after turning down the role of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate.
She initially refused to record the film's centrepiece, Que Sera Sera, saying it was a forgettable children's song, but after it won an Oscar she relented and it became her biggest hit.
The assassin boasts one of moviedom's most unforgettable faces. Reggie Nalder started his creative life as a most presentable dancer in Vienna before badly burning the lower third of his face, forever dooming him to villainous roles. You may remember him from his terrifying scenes as the vampire in TV's Salem's Lot mini-series.
You may also recognise the blonde socialite in the red dress who is kept waiting so long by Day and Stewart's attempts to find their son. She's Carolyn Jones, star of House of Wax, Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Elvis's Kid Creole in the 50s but definitely best remembered as the black-tressed Morticia in TV's Addams Family.
And I betcha didn't see Hitch's cameo. Apparently he's in the marketplace scene just before the murder&with his back to camera! In the same scene Daniel Gelin's black makeup wouldn't come off so James Stewart had to have white paint on his fingers to create the illusion. Ahhhh, the magic of the movies!
Next week, one of Hitchcock's true classics, Vertigo!