Hitchcock often repeated himself, but The Man Who Knew Too Much is his only direct remake. This later version has more charismatic stars in Doris Day and James Stewart, lavish locations, songs, colour, and superior production values, and a case can be made – as it was by the finest of all Hitchcock scholars, Robin Wood – for its progressive status in promoting feminist values during the Eisenhower years, through the reluctance of Day to embrace the role of wife and mother at the expense of her own talents.
All of this makes the remake into a solid work of Hitchcock’s maturity, even if it sacrifices some of the freshness and energy of the prototype. Wood said that only ‘the most chauvinistic of British critics’ could rate that earlier version higher, but you don’t have to agree.
This film is screening as part of The Genius of Hitchcock: Part Two. A full retrospective of Hitchcock’s 52 surviving films is taking place at the IFI from December 2012 to March 2013.
A six-week Evening Course, Shadow of a Genius, will look at the work of directors influenced by Hitchcock and will take place from February 5th to March 12th.