Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

dir. Alfred Hitchcock

Arriving in Marrakech - Bab Doukkala and Bab el-Khemis, Marrakech, Morocco

The hotel where the McKennas are staying – La Mamounia Hotel, Avenue Bab Jdid, Marrakech, Morocco. In 2006, the hotel closed for renovations, and reopened three years later. A number of original features were removed, and the hotel looks very different now.

The McKennas (James Stewart and Doris Day) witness the assassination of Louis Bernard (Daniel Gelin) – Jemaa El Fna, Marrakech, Morocco

The Marrakech skyline with the Koutoubia Mosque (center)

Arriving in London – London Airport (now London Heathrow), Croydon Road, Hillingdon, Greater London TW6.
The same airfield in 1960.

The control tower and the central area which just opened in April 1955 are visible in the background.

Looking for Ambrose Chapel – Plender Street at Royal College Street, London N1

The taxidermist shop – 61 College Place, London N1. This was a real taxidermist shop called "E. Gerrard & Sons". Unusually for Hitchcock, the shop interior was also filmed on the premises. A rather famous London establishment, it was founded in 1853 by Edward Gerrard, a naturalist and a friend of Charles Darwin. At the time of the filming, the family business was managed by Charles Gerrard. When Camden Council decided to redevelop the area, Gerrard's company moved, and would close down in the late 1960s. This portion of the street has been demolished and replaced with a housing complex.
The walled entrance to the shop circa 1964.

James Stewart and Alfred Hitchcock on location at the taxidermist shop in 1955.

The approximate location of the walled entrance and the shop itself relative to the current street layout.

Ambrose Chapel – St. Saviour's Church Hall, Vicary Street, Brixton Hill, London SW2. The hall belonged to the nearby St. Saviour's Church on Lambert Road. The church itself still stands, only now it's called the New Testament Church of God. Vicary street ran through from Bartley Road to Blenheim Gardens. The hall housed parochial rooms and a Sunday school. The wooden belfry from which McKenna escapes was added for the filming. The hall was demolished, and the entire area was replanned during the construction of the Blenheim Gardens Estate in 1969-1972. Bartley Road became Glanville Road, Vicary Street disappeared, and only a portion of the old Blenheim Gardens is extant.
Hitchcock and Doris Day on location in Vicary Street in 1955.

Jo McKenna makes a phone call – Vicary Street at Blenheim Gardens, Brixton Hill, London SW2.
Hitchcock and Doris Day during the filming of this episode in June 1955.
The approximate locations of Vicary Street, the church hall and the phone booth relative to the current street layout.

Hank McKenna is brought to an unnamed foreign embassy – Thorney Court, Palace Gate, London W8. The old Thorney Court was demolished in 1972. It has been replaced with a luxury apartment complex also named Thorney Court but they have kept the original gate piers.

The embassy's kitchen - Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London SW7

The assassination attempt - Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, London SW7

The embassy foyer and stairway – Park Lane House, 45 Park Lane, London W1. Originally, the house number was 25 but it was changed to 45 in 1934. The mansion was built in 1895-96 for South African diamond magnate Barney Barnato who later sold it to Sir Edward Sassoon. Sassoon's son Philip made the interiors even more lavish. The house was demolished in 1964 to give way to a modern building which went on to house Hugh Hefner's Playboy club from 1966 to 1981. It's a 5-star luxury hotel now.

Finding photos of the original house proved to be elusive. The one I've managed to locate shows the Swiss ambassador Armin Daeniker delivering a speech on the staircase of the Park Lane House. All the key elements of the staircase match those seen in the film.

The embassy ballroom – Forbes House, 10 Halkin Street, London SW1. Once the residence of Bernard Arthur William Patrick Hastings Forbes, 8th Earl of Granard, since the 1950s the mansion served as the headquarters of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. The organization sold it to the Barclay brothers in 2010.

In 2016 the Barclays sold it to former Qatar prime minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani. Since then the house interior has undergone a substantial remodeling.

See also...

Stage Fright

23 Paces to Baker Street


  1. The Embassy Scene, the interior shot you show is in fact the entrance hall of Forbes House (also used for the ballroom scene)

    1. I understand that the two staircases may look similar to you but they aren't actually the same. It's the entrance hall and staircase of the Park Lane House. See the visual proof above.