A British family on vacation in Morocco become unwillingly tangled with international espionage and a political assasination plot. Their plan to expose the plot is derailed when their son is abducted. Pure Hitchcock.
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Parallel mother figures, how patriarchy attempts to silence female autonomy & expression, Stewart's manipulations, his masculine failure. A mise en scene crammed with secret looks, thoughts. Eyes are always quietly absorbing information. Misunderstanding ensues, prejudice solidifies. Rohmer is right about the film's investment in the dichotomy between free will & predestination; gender politics are of equal concern.
Doris Day is little more than a gimmick here, and an irritating one at that: whenever she sings it feels horribly forced and out of place. A powerful sequence detailing a high-profile assassination attempt in Albert Hall is memorable, but little else is.
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Minus Lorre and full of the longeurs expected from a Big Hollywood Remake of the pithy, beloved original (LOL at Moroccan couches!, Doris Day absolutely has to sing), but a largely British cast play out of their skins, and elevate the film immeasurably; De Banzie, Miles, plus creepily suave Frenchman Gelin (easily trumping Fresnay from the original) veritably ooze queasy menace, and make the film memorable.
The British original had its problems, so a remake needn't be a bad thing. Pros: at least two great Hitchcock shots, a flicker of moral ambiguity, James Stewart does his thing, the Albert Hall setpiece still works, and the annoying little boy gets kidnapped. Cons: No Peter Lorre, slow pacing with just as many plotholes and less giddiness, I dislike Doris Day on principle, and the little boy gets rescued. 3 stars.
The scene of James Stewart, the father character, struggling to run up the stairs after hearing his son's voice is one of the most gut wrenching scenes put on film. I'm surprised at how all of my friends are underrating it. Odd.
One of the first Hitchcok films I had the pleasure of seeing as a child. I watched it on television and the suspense was choking me and then it cut to commercial. I literally screamed. It made me realize at a young age how intensely awesome Hitchcock was.