Posted on Wednesday, February 9th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
Alfred Hitchcock‘s film The Man Who Knew Too Much has been remade already (by Hitchcock) and parodied and/or referenced many more times. (See Bill Murray’s The Man Who Knew Too Little.) So why not one more? Last fall there was a report that Paramount was developing a kid-centered remake of the film, and now that seems to be moving forward.
Much in the way that Disturbia took the Rear Window formula and oriented it for teen audiences, The Kid Who Knew Too Much would take the basic setup from Hitchcock’s two films and set it up so that rather than having a couple investigating a scenario that leads to their child being kidnapped, we’d see a kid looking for his stolen parents. John and Jez Butterworth are writing the script, but there is no cast or director at this point. (How has this title never yet been used?)
The 1934 version of Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much has the following setup:
Bob and Jill Lawrence (Leslie Banks and Edna Best), a British couple on vacation in St. Moritz, Switzerland, with their daughter Betty (Nova Pilbeam) befriend a foreigner, Louis Bernard (Pierre Fresnay), who is staying in their hotel. One evening, as Jill dances with Louis, she witnesses his assassination as a French spy. Before dying, the spy passes on to them some vital information to be delivered to the British consul. In order to ensure their silence, the assassins, led by a charming and nefarious Abbott (Peter Lorre), kidnap their daughter. Unable therefore to seek help from the police, the couple return to England and, after following a series of leads, discover the group intends to assassinate a European ambassador during a concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
While things were changed around a bit when he remade the film in 1956 with James Stewart and Doris Day. (This is where the song ‘Que Sera Sera’ became really popular, and the tune won the Best Original Song Oscar for this film.)
Dr. Ben McKenna (James Stewart), his wife Jo (Doris Day) and their son Hank (Christopher Olsen) are on vacation, traveling in Morocco. On a bus between Casablanca and Marrakech, they befriend a fellow traveler, a mysterious Frenchman who identifies himself as Louis Bernard (Daniel Gelin). Bernard is friendly enough, but Mrs. McKenna becomes suspicious at his evasive answers and thinks he is hiding something. Bernard offers to take the McKennas out to dinner that night but suddenly cancels when a sinister-looking man (Reggie Nalder) arrives at the door of the McKenna’s hotel room claiming to have become lost looking for another guest’s room. The next day, while exploring a busy outdoor marketplace in Marrakesh, the McKennas see a man being chased by police officers. Shortly afterwards, the same man approaches them after being stabbed in the back by an assassin. Ben discovers that the man is really Louis Bernard in Arab dark skin makeup. Before dying, Bernard whispers into Ben’s ear a terrible secret: that someone’s life is in danger. A foreign statesman will be murdered in London, England very soon, and they must contact the authorities in London to find ‘Ambrose Chappell’. After Bernard has died, Mrs. Drayton offers to return Hank to the hotel while Dr. and Mrs. McKenna are questioned by the authorities. The interrogator reveals that Louis Bernard was a spy for the French Intelligence Services on assignment in Morocco. While at the police station, Ben receives a telephone call from a mysterious man who informs him that Hank has been kidnapped and threatens to harm him unless the McKennas say nothing to the police about Bernard’s last words.
Hitchcock preferred the remake, though I always liked the slightly rougher original version better. Both versions are worth a look if you’re new to the film, and as for the kid-friendly version, sure, why not? Disturbia was entertaining enough, and this will just be a new way to use a classic setup that will barely reflect on the two Hitchcock versions. [Badass Digest]