There is something very appealing about watching Alfred Hitchcock’s early movies. While they don’t have all of the style and panache of his later big budget efforts, every so often there is a moment in an early film that is just 100% great. Not only was Hitchcock a young filmmaker, but film itself (the ‘talkie’ in particular) was in its infancy. I imagine it would be like listening to Hendrix learn to play the guitar and hearing a great, new riff every now and then.
The Man Who Knew Too Much may not be the perfect film, but it has a lot going for it and comes across as a very inventive and endearing film. It moves along at brisk pace with a good mix of action and dialogue and clocks in at a very efficient 75 minutes or so. Of particular interest is the fact that this was Peter Lorre’s first English language role, and he had to learn his lines phonetically. Another thing about many early ‘talkies’ that is striking, is the lack of score. There is so much silence in the film that the white noise almost becomes the soundtracks. It’s actually a bit unsettling for the modern moviegoer, who has grown accustomed to continuous music.
All in all, it’s an interesting little film but damn do I love Peter Lorre!