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Hitchcock and the Censors$
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John Billheimer

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780813177427

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813177427.001.0001

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The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

(p.210) 28 The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
Hitchcock and the Censors

John Billheimer

University Press of Kentucky

The remake of Hitchcock’s 1934 film retained the title and certain key elements of the original, in which the child of a vacationing couple is kidnapped, including the climactic assassination attempt in Albert Hall. But the details of the story changed a great deal. The vacationing couple is American, not English, the kidnapped child is a boy, not a girl, and the wife, played by Doris Day, is a retired musical star rather than an expert marksman. The Production Code office, which had excised five minutes of a climactic gun battle from the original, had relatively few objections to the remake. Censors objected to the kidnapping of a young child, the suggestion that the child’s life might be in danger, and wanted to make it clear that the villain was only ‘posing’ as a minister, not actually a man of the cloth. Hitchcock easily accommodated these suggestions by raising the age of the child to eight and adjusting a few bits of dialogue, reflecting both the gradual weakening of the Code and the director’s increasing skill in dealing with censorship.

Keywords:   Alfred Hitchcock, Doris Day, child kidnapping, respect for religions, Production Code Administration, The Man Who Knew Too Much

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