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After viewing the 1956 version of Alfred Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much," I decided to watch the 1934 film by the same name, also directed by Hitchcock. Not satisfied with his earlier work, Hitchcock decided to remake the film. While the basic plot remains the same, I was surprised at just how different the two films are. I liked parts of both films, but loved neither. Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day are endearing in the 1956 version in their roles as a Midwestern doctor and his wife on a Moroccan holiday. But the film felt too long as it went on-and-on beyond what I considered the climax of the movie. *** MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW *** The 1934 version felt too long as well, with an unsatisfying shootout scene near the end that felt oddly out of place in the film. There was more humor in this version (the dental office scene in this film being more entertaining than the taxidermist scene in the 1956 version), but there were a lot of flaws throughout the film which made me understand why Hitchcock would want a mulligan.
It's incredible that I'd never before seen "The Maltese Falcon" (it's one of those films where you're not sure if you've seen or not, but I hadn't). Turner Classic Movies has embarked upon a project where they're slowly releasing classic films in dribs and drabs onto the big screen - one, maybe two, a month - and out here in San Francisco right now, "The Maltese Falcon" is playing only four times (two days this week, twice each day). I am *so* glad I saw this on the big screen. I really wasn't expecting all that I got from this film, but I thought it was wonderful. It was Humphrey Bogart's first leading role. It was Sydney Greenstreet's first role period (he was in his 60s, and made his Hollywood debut). It was the first major effort in the film noir genre, and I can't imagine anyone but Humphrey Bogart playing Sam Spade. It was a delightful hour and forty minutes, and I simply cannot compare this with Star Wars: The Force Awakens I saw two days before because I liked this infinitely more. Stepping out of the theater, I felt like I saw a *movie*; not rode a ride designed by computer-effects specialists at Walt Disney. You can call this film noir if you want, but it was also a character study, with virtually no character being portrayed in black-and-white terms. This was the films 75th anniversary, and oh, how Hollywood has fallen backwards in so very many ways. (I'm not saying in *all* ways; when I say "no character being portrayed in black and white terms," I could have also said "no black character portrayed" except maybe a bellhop.) At one point in the film, Humphrey Bogart burned a piece of paper in an ashtray, and we couldn't figure out what it was, or why he was burning it - has anyone seen this film recently? This film is based on Dashiell Hammett's 1929 novel of the same name, and was actually the *third* version of the film released by Hollywood (there was one in 1931, and one in 1936 (*) Bette Davis), but this is reportedly the best of the three by far. (*) To tie this post in with restaurants, I swear to you that the 1936 film, entitled "Satan Met A Lady," featured none other than Arthur Treacher. Yes, *that* Arthur Treacher.