Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

In Alfred Hitchcock's dramatic and colorful remake of his own political thriller film from 22 years earlier:

  • during the title credits - the foreshadowing of the film's climactic ending: "A single crash of Cymbals and how it rocked the lives of an American family."
  • the opening introduction of the McKenna family - American tourists: surgeon Dr. Benjamin "Ben" McKenna (James Stewart) and his wife, newly-retired singing star Josephine "Jo" (Doris Day) from Indianapolis, Indiana, with their 11 year-old son Henry or "Hank" (Christopher Olsen); on a bus traveling from Casablanca to Marrakech in French Morocco (in Northern Africa), they met a Frenchman named Louis Bernard (Daniel Gelin) who intervened when Hank accidentally pulled off the veil of one of the local Muslim women
  • the startling moment when a sinister-looking man knocked at the McKennas' hotel-room door in Marrakech [Note: He would later be identified as Rien (Reggie Nalder), a hired assassin]; Louis Bernard was in the McKenna's hotel room and witnessed the incident, and then abruptly cancelled his dinner plans with them
  • the 'fish-out-of-water' dinner scene that evening in Marrakech, when the McKennas met a friendly English couple at a local Arab restaurant -- the Draytons: Lucy (Brenda De Banzie) and Edward (Bernard Miles) [Note: They were later revealed to be the real criminals - leaders of an anarchist terrorist group, involved in an assassination plot]; it was unusual that Louis Bernard was also in attendance at the restaurant, but basically ignored the McKennas
  • the scene in the Marrakech bazaar marketplace the next day (the McKennas were with the Draytons) when saw a robed, dark-skinned man, obviously with face paint, being chased by police, and then stumbling into the square and falling to the ground, with a knife sticking out of his back; he reached out to speak to Dr. McKenna: ("Monsieur McKenna. I'm Louis Bernard")
In Marketplace, Disguised Arab (Louis Bernard) Knifed in the Back -
With Whispered Secret to Dr. McKenna
  • the whispered secret told to Dr. McKenna (with a closeup of his ear) by the disguised Arab, actually Frenchman Bernard whom the McKennas had met earlier: ("A man, a statesman, is to be killed, assassinated, in London. Soon, very soon. Tell them in London to try Ambrose Chappell"); mystified by the murder, Dr. McKenna told his wife: ("Why should he pick me out to tell?")
  • it was later revealed by the police that Louis was a French Intelligence agent working there in Morocco, part of the Deuxime Bureau, better known as the "American FBI": ("The dead man found out what he had been sent here to discover. That's why he was killed. He told you what he had discovered... Because he placed complete confidence in you")
  • the ominous phone call received by Dr. McKenna in the police headquarters, revealing that son "Hank" had been kidnapped for blackmailing purposes: ("If you tell even one word of what Louis Bernard whispered to you in the marketplace, your little boy will be in serious danger. Remember, say nothing")
  • the revelation by Dr. McKenna to Jo, that he had figured out why they had been approached by Bernard before his death - they had been mis-identified as a couple that Bernard was suspiciously tracking: ("He started to talk to us, and the reason he started to talk to us was 'cause he was on the lookout for a suspicious married couple.. a different married couple [the Draytons]....He found them, all right. It was in the restaurant where we had dinner last night. And that's one of the reasons he was killed")
  • the scene of Dr. McKenna going off track the next day in his search back in London - when he met with two taxidermists named Ambrose Chappell, Sr. (George Howe) and Jr. (Richard Wordsworth) - and discovering shockingly, that Ambrose Chapel was a place - not a person, and it was where Hank was being held hostage by the Draytons and the Ambassador (Mogens Wieth) who had hired the Draytons to arrange for the assassination
  • the wordless 12-minute climactic sequence in London's Royal Albert Hall during a concert performance (of the London Symphony Orchestra) where both Jo and Ben McKenna was keenly aware of an assassination plot of some sort (the murder of foreign dignitary - Prime Minister (Alexis Bobrinskoy)), about to take place at the end of the performance of Arthur Benjamin's Storm Cloud Cantata during a dramatic clash of cymbals
  • the final climactic moment when a gun barrel was visible pointing out from behind a red box curtain in the balcony, and the gunman's shot was accentuated by Jo's terrified shrieking scream, causing the gunman to miss his mark and only wound the targeted statesman in the arm, followed by the assassin's death when he struggled with Dr. McKenna and tumbled from the balcony
Assassin Rien Aiming His Weapon
Jo McKenna's Scream Disrupted Gunshot
Assassin's Death

One of Early Title Screens

First Meeting of McKenna Family with Louis Bernard on Bus to Marrakech

Sinister Knock at Door - The Future Assassin!

Dinner with the Draytons at Arab Restaurant

Disturbing Phone Call About Hank's Abduction

Bernard's Whispered Secret

McKenna Questioning the Younger Ambrose Chappell - On the Wrong Track in London

The Assassin's Target in London's Royal Albert Hall: The Prime Minister


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