The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) Review


It’s time for the remake to the film I just reviewed. When you watch both of these films back to back you can really compare their strengths and see which one comes out on top. Ultimately I would say this one definitely beat the original. Both of them are solid and so I wouldn’t say the gap is big or anything but I was really able to get behind the remake. I felt like the main characters were stronger and with the added time you could do a lot more. Although ironically the villains have almost 0 development.

The film starts with Ben and Jo on vacation with their son Hank. They’ve had a pretty fun time of it so far and have a few more stops left. They nearly get into a fight with someone on the bus though when Hank steals something from a lady. They are saved by the intervention of a guy named Louis who is eager to know everything he can about Ben. He asks a ton of questions and every time Jo tries to ask him something the guy ignores or and asks Ben some more questions. Ben loves talking about himself so this is a fine set up for him. After telling Louis where they are staying, how long they will be staying and where they will go next, Louis leaves.

Jo warns Ben that he’s making some big mistakes with giving all the info away but Ben’s confident he’ll be okay. Louis ends up getting murdered but quickly tosses Ben a note. Ben thinks about telling the police but then he gets a call warning him not to tell them anything or Hank will die. Turns out that they swiped Hank away under the guise of a nice neighbor taking him home. Ben tries to gently break the news to Jo but she doesn’t take it very well. The two of them are going to need to try and track Hank down but it’ll be difficult since they aren’t exactly used to dealing with the underground. All they’ve got as a clue is a location from the note.

Like in the first film we get the return of the Church led by one of the villains. This time they aren’t worshipping the Sun though so it’s not quite as outlandish. It’s interesting because this could have been game set and match for the villains if there was any way to leave the Church without being noticed. Unfortunately for the heroes that isn’t exactly possible. In a small setting like that, everyone notices when you get up and the villains have a plan for everything. It was fun to see the various stare downs in there as well.

This time around we don’t get a big shootout climax. In fact, the climax is very low key with things happening quickly but quietly. The ending just sort of happens as we cut away from what would have presumably been the full climax. It’s a solid ending but I do think the first movie has the edge in that area. I was glad Ben went for the shove at one point since it’s always something I feel more heroes should do. Look, if you are being held at gun point and the guy is at your side instead of behind you, just quickly shove into him.

At that angle he can’t hit you in the head and a heart shot is unlikely. So now you’ve got him on the ground and even if you’re wounded perhaps you can hold him down until someone arrives to help. At the very least Hank is safe no matter what so you’ve accomplished your main objective. It’s certainly a whole lot better than just accepting your inevitable death. Because if you follow this guy into a car or a dark alley that’s all that awaits you. At least this way you have a chance.

Hank doesn’t do a whole lot in this film. He’s just a kid after all so he gets kidnapped and tricked but that’s about it. Jo’s a solid main heroine. I wish she wouldn’t panic quite as much when she learns about Hank going missing but after that initial scene she handles the rest of it pretty well. She was key in helping out at the opera as well as executing the big plan at the end involving her songs. She took a fairly large role in getting Hank to safety.

The same can be said for Ben who does his best to take on this criminal enterprise. He may not have experience but he’s got determination which is important. In this version of the film he’s with Jo a lot more while in the first film he was teaming up with the older fellow. The change makes sense since this way both parents get a sizable role here.

As mentioned before, the villains aren’t very memorable though. You have the old lady who starts to think that maybe she’s on the wrong side here. It’s way too late if you ask me though. She was completely fine with kidnapping the child and it was obvious what would happen to Hank in the end. Getting cold feet now doesn’t make her more heroic. The other villains are mainly just here as part of the story but don’t have a lot of character. At best you have the friend of the prime minister who had an interesting personality. He certainly doesn’t excuse failure a whole lot but as a political head he can’t go around shooting people either so he’s in a bit of a bind.

Overall, This was a pretty solid remake. The writing was very good as expected and I thought the characters were an improvement over the first film except that the villains were not memorable. The film had a little more humor than the first film and it all landed pretty well. One of the better gags was the main characters having to rush out all the time to the confusion of their friends and family who had gone over to have some fun with them. It wasn’t quite the house party they had in mind that’s for sure. I’d recommend checking this one out. Unless you want to compare both titles directly and just want to watch one, I would say this is the definitive version of the movie to check out.

Overall 7/10

The Man Who Knew Too Much Review


Whenever you know too much it can be tricky. Knowledge is hidden away for a reason after all and when you find out what it is, you’ve just put yourself in a whole lot of danger. It’s something that the lead characters learn quickly here although it’s not knowledge that they tried to learn so you can’t blame them. It’s a pretty solid suspense thriller with a surprisingly action packed climax.

The movie starts with Bob and Jill enjoying a nice vacation with their daughter Betty. Unfortunately Betty does wreck Jill’s chances of winning a shootout though by causing a lot of noise and distractions. She was goaded on by another character but it was still a tragic way to start the day. Bob and Jill head back in to have a good time but then a mysterious person they didn’t know very well hands Bob a letter and quickly gets murdered. Bob is about to tell the police about this when he reads the letter and sees that it’s a threat. If he tells anyone what he knows then Betty will die.

Bob confirms that Betty is gone and so this threat cannot be taken lightly. Bob needs to find these guys and fast so he heads out with Clive. The reason for urgency is that the cops are slowly gaining ground on the villains as well and if they do catch them, the antagonists may believe that Bob spilled the beans and take out Betty. The heroes will have to go to some dangerous places and dark alleys to find them. Meanwhile Jill has to do her best to stop another assassination attempt from taking place.

There’s a lot going on here which is something you always want to be able to stay about a thriller. Bob goes to different places from street corners to dentists to corrupt churches. In the dentist scene I was impressed with how he turned the situation around. Usually when the villain grabs their tube and starts to hit you with the knockout gas, the character will immediately fall to the ground and have no tolerance for the stuff. It’s not a very impressive look for them but Bob was able to rip it off and take the villain down. Now that was impressive.

In general I thought Bob was very good. He did a lot of the legwork in trying to find Betty and put himself in peril many times. He didn’t crumble under the pressure and kept a cool head about everything. His partner Clive also deserves a lot of credit for sticking with him on the adventures. He had a particularly rough time at the dentist’s office and was still able to keep it moving. He was certainly a loyal companion.

Meanwhile you also have Jill doing her best to handle this. We saw in the opening scene that she is good with a gun so the whole time you’re waiting for the payoff on this. Fortunately it does arrive and as the film’s climax is a giant shootout, that makes sense. This way each character got to contribute which was good. Only Betty didn’t I suppose but as a kid there’s not a whole lot she could do. The villains treated her pretty well at least so the experience wasn’t too traumatic.

The climax was extremely explosive though which is still surprising. The villains decide that they won’t go out without a fight and the nonstop shooting between the heroes and villains commences. The police didn’t look very impressive with their counter strategies though. If you see that your guys are going down one after the other you should probably rethink your strategy of plunging forward. They don’t and so by the end of the film a few villains have managed to take down almost 2 dozen cops. That was pretty crazy and I wish we had seen more tactics.

The main villain here is Abbott who looks shifty from the start. I think it’s safe to say that you’ll figure he is the villain almost as soon as he appears. You have the sinister music/atmosphere when he shows up and there aren’t a whole lot of other suspects anyway. Abbott does make for a good villain though. He seems a little insane but that’s not surprising for a villain like this. He’s the brains of the operation and the rest of the villains are fairly expendable to him. He made it pretty far in this plan.

The only character who didn’t seem to have much of a clue the whole time was Louis. I dunno, I suppose the whole thing wasn’t his fault since he had a mission to achieve but it felt like he didn’t act too cautiously. You’d never know that he was a professional agent with the risks he took. The guy thought he was James Bond with how he would party and hang out. I’m mixed on him since a decent amount of that may have been his cover. If he could have taken a few villains down before going out that would have helped.

The film is very strong all around though. The characters are good and the script is really solid. I’ve probably said this a thousand times but I love the good banter in the old school titles with the heroes and villains. There’s always a very fake polite type dialogue going on between them. If you read the text through an emotionless machine you could think the characters were friends but it’s all in how they talk to each other. The pacing is on point as well.

Overall, The Man Who Knew Too Much is a solid thriller. It is pretty tense with the child being kidnapped and all. We also get some rather atmospheric locations like the fake church. The characters balancing their attempts to save their kid while also being subtle or they will put her in more danger was effective. The cops also looked decent here as they were beginning to find Abbott, I just wish they had looked better in the climax. There’s no scenario where running into a stronghold filled with guns is a good idea without some kind of cover. You gotta be ready to adjust and then fight back.

Overall 7/10

Séance on a Wet Afternoon Review


It’s time to look at an old film about a couple of insane people trying to see what’s worse, being an insane criminal or being a gutless accomplice. The two of them duke it out for the whole film on which character is worse. For my money I’m going with the accomplice because at least the villain is straight forward with this. The accomplice is always offering some justifications and half heartedly saying they should stop. This is definitely a film that drags on for quite a bit so be prepared.

The movie starts with Myra hosting another seance with a group of her friends. Afterwards she tells Billy that it’s time to enact their plan. They’re going to kidnap a kid and will hold her for ransom for a while. Once the cops are unable to turn up any leads she will use her fake psychic powers to tell them where the kid is. At that point she will be rich and famous just like she’s always wanted. Her husband Billy is less sure of the plan but he’s not even sure of his own sanity so Myra sends him to get the job done. Kidnapping the girl is criminally easy because everyone is negligent in this film so once they have the girl Myra gets her plan into action. The only tricky part is that aside from every part of the plan being pretty insane Myra’s own fragile psyche is getting worse and worse. Soon she may not even be able to speak rationally.

Obviously I don’t have a whole lot of respect for these two characters. Myra is portrayed as insane from the start and is just super lucky that she has Billy here. He does whatever she said. Even when she turns off the music and Billy sees her do it, she just says that he did and he accepts this. Billy accepts whatever Myra says to pretty crazy degrees. The whole opening scenes are basically just Myra making a long speech and doing whatever she wants and telling Billy he better agree to it. These scenes are a chore to get through in part because of her but definitely because of Billy.

Billy is one of the most annoying characters in a while because the guy just acts defeated in every single scene. He somehow is able to pull off the kidnapping and stealing the money despite all of this which is a stretch. What kind of designated driver for a super rich family just leaves the car alone and unlocked with the key in the ignition when a stranger is there? The whole thing was super suspect and he should have taken the kid with him. Billy had no real backup plan either so the whole thing was based on a lot of luck.

The villains are also asking to be foiled the whole time by doing things like having a seance with one of the parents while the kid is right upstairs. The room also didn’t seem very sound proof either and the kid should have done something. That would have been a tougher spot but yelling a bit would be ideal. The only good characters here are the parents. I’m glad that the father wasn’t falling for the supernatural nonsense. The Mom gave the main characters a little more of a chance and got pretty emotional but I won’t blame her either since the situation is so intense.

Going back to the plan though, even if Myra did use her “abilities” to find the kid it’s not like the cops would believe her. That would just throw even more suspicion on Myra being the one to kidnap her since she was already making that point pretty obvious early on. At the end Myra even wants to murder the kid and that would really seal her fate. That’s the thing with having main characters like this though, it’s never going to make sense in the end.

Ultimately the film doesn’t go for the ultimate grim ending which is good because that would have been an easy way to hit 0. The ending isn’t bad but it doesn’t help the rest of the film. The whole scene of Myra cracking in the climax as she talks to herself goes on for a very long time and it’s all nonsense so you wish the film would just gloss over it. Since we know she is crazy from the jump I think it’s fair for us to just skip the scenes entirely. You already get the point of the film. The cops did good even if the one detective should have been more confident. I liked the code of how they would pretend to be talking about a car radio while trying to identify Billy as the thief from earlier. The detectives did a lot of beating around the bush and passive aggressive talk but at the end of the day they got the job done and that’s what counts.

Overall, This is definitely a movie that I would advise you to avoid. There’s really nothing positive to say about it. The whole movie is very slow and the main problem here is that all of the focus is on the main two characters and they’re not likable in the slightest. They’re just petty criminals who are also insane and I think it’s pretty much impossible to have a quality film about such leads. The film should have been from the focus of the detective or the cops. That would have made for a much more interesting story at least and the film would have been better off with that change.

Overall 2/10