While attending a medical conference in Paris, American physician Dr. Ben McKenna, his wife, retired musical theater actress and singer Jo McKenna née Conway, and their adolescent son Hank McKenna decide to take a side trip to among other places Marrekesh, French Morocco. With a knife plunged into his back, Frenchman Louis Bernard, who the family met earlier in their bus ride into Marrakesh and who is now masquerading as an Arab, approaches Ben, cryptically whispering into Ben's ears that there will be an attempted assassination in London of a statesman, this news whispered just before Bernard dies. Ben is reluctant to provide any information of this news to the authorities because concurrently Hank is kidnapped by British couple, Edward and Lucy Drayton, who also befriended the McKennas in Marrakesh and who probably have taken Hank out of the country back to England. Whoever the unknown people the Draytons are working for have threatened to kill Hank if Ben divulges any information ... Written by
Ambrose Chapel was filmed at St. Saviour's Church Hall in St. Saviour's Road, Brixton Hill, London. St. Saviour's was sold off by the Church of England in the 1970s and has since been torn down. See more »
The Camden Town scene: As Dr. McKenna walks along the deserted street, a figure (Ambrose Chappell Jr.) turns the corner and walks behind him, down the center of the pavement (seen from Dr. Mckenna's POV). The camera cuts to view further along the street, with both characters in shot, but Ambrose Chappell has "jumped" to the edge of the pavement. See more »
[to Louis Bernard]
If you ever get hungry, our garden back home is full of snails. We tried everything to get rid of them. We never thought of a Frenchman!
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Opening credits prologue: A single crash of Cymbals and how it rocked the lives of an American family. See more »
All the trademark Hitchcock elements are in place yet again, for a wonderful example of crowd-pleasing from the man who knew better than anyone just how to work an audience. James Stewart, everyone's perfect everyman returns to familiar ground, with the perfect wife (Doris Day, perfect casting), and perfect family. Into this chocolate box world is thrown some dangerous information, and a downward spiral of kidnap and murder.
As usual, there are the elaborately staged set-pieces, and the intimate psychoanalysis that you would expect. Here, the assassination sequence in the Royal Albert Hall provides the former - a beautifully choreographed blend of music and images building to the pivotal crash of cymbals, and the scenes in Morocco the latter, as our couple become obliviously embroiled in international espionage. It is hard to find fault with any of Hitchcock's contrivances (using the Oscar-winning 'Whatever Will Be' as a plot device to get Doris singing is almost too much, but forgivable), and the the whole cast are superb, giving incredibly naturalistic performances - see the scene in the Moroccan restaurant, which almost seems ad-libbed.
One of Hitchcock's best.
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