Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

WHO: Alfred Hitchcock is definitely the director here, and quite probably making one of his celebrated cameos in this image as well.

WHAT: The only film that Hitchcock made twice, once each in both the British and American phases of his career. Long available mostly in poor copies, this British version is about to be released on DVD/Blu-Ray by Criterion. Thanks to Bill Chambers of Film Freak Central for supplying the above Blu-Ray screen capture to illustrate this post. Looks pretty great, but there's nothing like seeing Hitchcock films in a cinema.

WHERE/WHEN: 6:30 PM at the Pacific Film Archive.

WHY: Just about every January in recent memory the PFA picks a different director known for films about crime to spotlight with a juicy retrospective; recent choices have included Henri-Georges Clouzot, Claude Chabrol, and Josef Von Sternberg. This winter it's an Alfred Hitchcock series. These series always create decisions for fans of the Castro's Noir City festival who also like to attend PFA programs pertaining to film noir. The bad news is it's impossible to catch every Noir City program and also see all the Hitchcock films the PFA is bringing. The good news is that the overlap is comparatively minimal this year, so the two ostensibly-competing cinephile attractions can in fact enrich each other. The PFA series is roughly chronological, so it's possible to take a look at a number of the pre-1941 Hitchcocks, including The Man Who Knew Too Much, in the period before Noir City begins on January 25th. And if the Noir City opening night presentation of Gun Crazy with its star Peggy Cummins in person sells out in advance (as such an opportunity should, though I wonder if the singeing topicality of the 1950 movie to our current national gun debate is more likely to bring in or turn off potential ticket buyers) it'll be nice to know that a print of Rear Window is showing just across the bay. And though Noir City ends February 3rd, the PFA Hitchcock series continues on after that through April 24th with 19 more films announced, mostly from the classic noir era. They also promise a silent Hitchcock series co-presented with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival, which has yet to show a Hitchcock silent at its regular venue the Castro. Will 2013 be the summer?

HOW: 35mm print from the Library of Congress.


  1. David Wong reported the print was only fair, but the house was packed, which bodes well for the PFA's decision to revive the Hitchcocks.I enjoyed the second film, The Mercenary,preceded by a
    nice warm up selection of music from John Zorn's Big Gundown CD, and that house was also packed.

  2. Perhaps I should buy advance tickets to the Hitchcocks I hope to attend in this series... The first of which is likely to be Saboteur.