Immersed in Blu-ray: The Man Who Knew Too Much

Criterion has just released Alfred Hitchcock’s British version of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) on Blu-ray, and the new transfer is a revelation: the expressionistic production design and cinematography by Alfred Junge and Curt Courant have never looked more ravishing.

There’s always been a debate about which version of The Man Who Knew Too Much is superior. Now we have both on Blu-ray to rediscover, thanks to last year’s mammoth release by Universal. Hitchcock preferred the remake and what the Hollywood studio system afforded in the ’50s, and I agree that it’s more expansive, polished, and psychologically complex. However, there’s much to savor about the wit, economy, and abstract experimentation of the original in which Hitchcock was still learning his craft (a year before The 39 Steps).

Leslie Banks and Edna Best make a droll couple and Peter Lorre marks the first of Hitchcock’s fascinating psychopaths: refined on the outside but seething with menace underneath. And such visual elegance (the bullet hole in the window above). Kudos to Prasad Group and Criterion for the restoration and the BFI National Archive for the transfer (a 35mm nitrate fine grain master).

Posted on by Bill Desowitz in Below the Line, Blu-ray, Cinematography, Clips, Movies, Production Design, Tech

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