Abstract from “American Hearts: Inside ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much'”

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Hitchcock’s reimagining of his 1934 film, and the only remake of his career, starring Doris Day and James Stewart, appears on the surface to be a cloak-and-dagger thriller. This paper argues that there are also several elements of domestic drama within the film, and that the various conflicts between the characters and their world, and between each other, contribute to the theme of identity. Hitchcock explores the theme of identity in this film through the utilization of landscape, disguise, and sound. The imposing landscapes from Morocco and London present enmity against and between the couple in the face of their son’s kidnapping and involvement in an international coup. Disguises are ubiquitous throughout the film, playing a key role in the plot as well as in exploring the concept of one’s true versus presented identity. Hitchcock’s employment of sound, particularly in the songs “Que Sera, Sera” and “Storm Cloud Cantata” also serve pivotal roles in the plot while also highlighting the efflorescence of one’s true identity. Hitchcock skillfully uses these three elements in the film in order to show how adversity shapes a person’s identity, and how the audience empathizes with the characters and examine their own identities.

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