shadow of a doubt, the man who knew too much [1956]

February 18, 2008

finally getting around to these……..many weeks late.

plot spoilers ahead

shadow of a doubt – what’s great about the beginning of the film is it throws you right into the mix and shows you that something is wrong with uncle charlie, you’re just not sure what. we see him lying in his room with money all over the place, and two guys trying to chase him down. we have no idea why he’s being hunted, if he’s actually done anything bad, or he is really is, but we get the sense right off the bat that something is not right with him. but as soon as he’s reunited with his sister and her family, you quickly forget what was a little off-putting about him. his interaction with everyone in the family seems completely natural, but when the two dectectives show up we remember that there’s something wrong with him. and as charlie II (as we’ll refer to her) slowly starts to learn more and more about her uncle’s past we start to see it as well. hitchcock slowly reveals it in the way in which he talks and his overall apperance as well. hitchcock does a great job of structuring his character and revealing a little information at a time.

now the flaws. i thought the film completely lost it’s steam in the last 15-20 minutes. i mean it sort of just stops after they find the guy in the east (which i don’t completely buy, i mean you have the chase for this mass murderer down to two guys and when one of them dies while on the run you just give up on the other lead as well?) and is forced to start up again when charlie II finds the ring (which i also don’t buy. i mean what the hell is chalrie I doing with the ring after he knows that charlie II knows about the murders). add to that a completely anti-climatic final showdown and it kind of just lost me.

the man who knew too much [1956] – there seems to be a lot of hate going around about this film on the filmspotting message boards. i don’t get it. i mean the first 30 minutes are unlike any hitchcock film i’ve ever seen….and it’s great! i was laughing so much at jimmy stewart’s little off hand comments and his awkwardness trying to fit in, in a foreign country. admittedly it does get a little crazy when they’re trying to sort it all out, but it’s suspenseful enough, and fun enough at the start, to really recommend. there’s also some talk on the fs message boards about “actors you feel safe with” and i jimmy stewart would fall into that category for me. he always seems to deliver for me, and this film is no exception. so jimmy stweart fans….go see it.

and a little aside— how creepy was that french assasin dude? i wanted to see jimmy stewart shoot him so i wouldn’t have to see him on the screen anymore.


One Response to “shadow of a doubt, the man who knew too much [1956]”

  1. oneaprilday Says:

    I’m so glad you’ve offered a more positive take on The Man Who Knew Too Much – I loved that film when I was younger, and I’ve been disappointed with the flack it’s getting on the FS boards. (I haven’t had the chance to revisit the film again lately.) Stewart is an actor I’ve always loved, too, and I, too, think he’d be pretty high up on my “actors I feel safe with” list. Even though I feel conflicted about Vertigo – it’s not Stewart’s performance that bothers me.

    Agree with your take on Shadow of a Doubt, too, as far as when the film lost me a bit. The unbelievability of those plots points took me out. Uncle Charlie was so good though overall, I still, ultimately, think it’s a great film


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