(Der Mann, der zuviel wußte | L'Homme qui en savait trop)

by Alfred Hitchcock

UK 1934

(click to enlarge)

Alfred Hitchcock
Michael Balcon (uncredited)
Associate Producers:
Ivor Montagu, Edwin Greenwood, A.R. Rawlinson
Production Companies:
Gaumont British Picture Corporation
Edwin Greenwood, A.R. Rawlinson; Charles Bennett, D.B. Wyndham Lewis (story); Emlyn Williams (additional dialogue)
Curt Courant (b/w, 1.37:1)
Hugh St.C. Stewart
Music Score:
Arthur Benjamin
Art Director:
Alfred Junge, Peter Proud
F. McNally
Special Effects:
Albert Whitlock
Leslie Banks (Bob Lawrence), Edna Best (Jill Lawrence), Peter Lorre (Abbott), Frank Vosper (Ramon), Hugh Wakefield (Clive), Nova Pilbeam (Betty Lawrence), Pierre Fresnay (Louis Bernard), Cicely Oates (Nurse Agnes), D.A. Clarke-Smith (Binstead), George Curzon (Gibson)
75:29 min (6,794 feet)
1934 (UK)

Filming Studio Location: Lime Grove Studios, Shepherd's Bush (London, UK)

"A British couple on holiday in St. Moritz become unwitting pawns in international espionage when they are handed a message from a dying Secret Service agent. Information about a terrorist plot to assassinate a visiting diplomat, and presumably create another war, is now known only by the unlucky duo whose daughter is kidnapped and taken to London to keep them quiet. ... Hitchcock makes brilliant use of the Albert Hall; Nova Pilbeam, precocious pet amongst the anarchists; and Peter Lorre, the smiling villain latterly remembered from M. Shorter, tauter, more nightmarish in black and white (more black than white) than the remake, this version provides its shocks on a need-to-know basis."
— Pacific Film Archive

"The Man Who Knew Too Much is a breathless escapade which, considering the infancy of sound film, was far ahead of its time. ... Hitchcock concedes that the film was the creation of a "talented amateur." The critics differed, however, and the film has garnered unanimous praise as one of the best British films and best thrillers ever."
— Richard A. Harris, Michael S. Lasky: The Complete Films of Alfred Hitchcock. New York 1995

"Vintage Hitchcock, with sheer wit and verve ... Pacy, exiting and with superb settings (taxidermist's shop, dentist's chair, mission chapel complete with gun-toting motherly body, shootout re-enacting the Sidney Street siege, terrific climax in the Albert Hall), it has also nice villainy from a scarred, leering Lorre (here making his British debut). At two-thirds the length of the remake, it's twice the fun."
— Tom Milne, TimeOut

"The original version ... is quirky and surreal almost from the start. After a perfunctory prologue in Switzerland, in which the protagonists' plummy-voiced banter feels like dialogue not just from another age but another planet, we are plunged into a deliriously quickfire sequence of events, each one more dreamlike than the last. ... For a while the visuals are so compelling, and the story makes so little sense, we might almost believe that Hitchcock had resolved to follow Dali and Buñuel's dictum on Un chien andalou (1928) and not include any images which admitted of a rational explanation."
Jonathan Coe, Sight and Sound, September 1999

Film Reviews | DVD Reviews

Laserlight NTSC Region 0 vs. Carlton PAL Region 2

R1 screenshots courtesy by Gary Tooze / dvdbeaver.com

Laserlight (Special Edition
Region 0 (North America)
Carlton Visual Entertainment
Region 2 (UK)
75:42 min 72:14 min (+ 4% PAL Speedup = 75 min)
1.32:1/4:3 FullScreen
Average Bitrate: 6.71 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.31:1/4:3 Fullscreen
Average Bitrate: 6.97 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Spanish, Chinese, Japanese English (captions)
• Introduction by Tony Curtis
• Bonus clip of the original theatrical trailer for Saboteur (1942)
• Theatrical Trailer
DVD Release Date: 4 August 1998
Snap Case
DVD Encoding: NTSC Region 0
DVD Release Date: 31 January 2000
Keep Case
Chapters: 15
DVD Encoding: PAL Region 2

The Carlton transfer is superior in every aspect and is without a doubt the most satisfying version of this 1934 classic on DVD. Laserlight's transfer seems to have been made from a video source and is as poor as the DVD from Madacy.

Frame 1: Menu
(Laserlight NTSC R0 left, Carlton PAL R2 right)

Frame 2
(Laserlight NTSC R0 left, Carlton PAL R2 right)

Frame 3
(Laserlight NTSC R0 left, Carlton PAL R2 right)

Frame 4
(Laserlight NTSC R0 left, Carlton PAL R2 right)

Frame 5
(Laserlight NTSC R0 left, Carlton PAL R2 right)

Frame 6: Original Frame Sizes
(Laserlight NTSC R0 720x480 top, Carlton PAL 720x576 R2 bottom)

Frame 7
(Laserlight NTSC R0 left, Carlton PAL R2 right)

Average Bitrate Laserlight NTSC R0:
6.71 mb/s

Average Bitrate Carlton PAL R2:
6.97 mb/s

Disclaimer by

This is a strictly non-professional and non-commercial DVD review. Don't expect industry reference work!

All ChiaroScuro captures are taken under MacOS X.2 using VideoLAN and Snapz ProX. For further methodological remarks see DVDBeaver (click on "Methodology"): "We are not a lab and are doing a good a job as our time and energy permits. Thank you for understanding."

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Last update: 8 Jan 2003