For anyone who hasn't seen Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much, this one is going to be a MAJOR SPOILER.
Now that that's out of the way, for anyone who has seen The Man Who Knew Too Much, it's quite obvious that this is the most profound moment in the entire film, the symphony scene. The 1956 film stars James Stewart as Dr. Ben McKenna and Doris Day as his wife Jo. Along with their young son Hank (Christopher Olsen), they take a trip to Morocco. A little something something goes down and Hank winds up being kidnapped and taken to London.
The McKennas stay hot on the abductors' trail and upon arriving in London, are eventually led to the Royal Albert Hall. It's there that their son's kidnappers will execute a plan to assassinate an important political figure, precisely timing the fatal gunshot with the crash of a cymbal. Unfortunately they didn't expect the McKennas to be in attendance and right when the big moment arrives, Jo lets out a scream, the killer misses his target, Ben goes after him and eventually the shooter goes over the balcony plunging to his death. No description can do this scene justice. The fact that a moment can be so suspenseful without the help of any dialogue is outrageous. Every detail from the genuine terrified look on Day's face to the rousing music to the eerie way the shooter lurks in the shadows before slowly sneaking his weapon out from behind the curtain adds up to make the moment ooze with suspense.
It's a sequence like this that make you wonder what the heck are we doing drowning all of our modern productions in CGI, 3D and whatever new technology is branded the latest craze. Thanks to Cinemax's Hitchcock On Demand menu, I've been burning through film after film the past few weeks. Hitchcock may be long gone, but he's left behind this fantastic repertoire of no-frills yet profoundly suspenseful films. First film in a while I've seen take a similar approach? The House of the Devil -- and it worked.
Here's to keeping things simple and creating tension Hitchcock style!