Secret Agent

  • 1936
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Spy

One of a string of British espionage thrillers Hitchcock directed in the mid-1930s (THE 39 STEPS preceded it in 1935 and SABOTAGE followed in 1936), this one begins in England, 1916, with the funeral of war hero and famed novelist Edgar Brodie (Gielgud). The funeral is a ruse, however, with Brodie still very much alive and in the service of British Intelligence....read more

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One of a string of British espionage thrillers Hitchcock directed in the mid-1930s (THE 39 STEPS preceded it in 1935 and SABOTAGE followed in 1936), this one begins in England, 1916, with the funeral of war hero and famed novelist Edgar Brodie (Gielgud). The funeral is a ruse, however,

with Brodie still very much alive and in the service of British Intelligence. He is given a new identity, Richard Ashenden, and sent to Switzerland to terminate an enemy agent--although no one knows the identity or description of the agent. Also assigned to the mission are agents Elsa Carrington

(Carroll), who is undercover as Ashenden's wife, and The General (Lorre), a demented, sexually charged, professional killer, and together they chase through the Swiss Alps to carry out their operation. SECRET AGENT bursts with not-so-hidden sexual innuendos and a heavy dose of comic dialogue, as

well as Lorre's unrestrained lunatic comic performance. Based on two Somerset Maugham stories (for the espionage angle) and a Campbell Dixon play (for the romance), SECRET AGENT did not perform at the box office as well as Hitchcock had hoped. Although the director has cited this film among his

favorites, he felt that its fault was in having a main character with whom the audience could not identify. London-based animator Len Lye (who had, in 1934, invented a technique for painting directly on film) had created, for the climactic train crash scene, a piece of brightly colored film which

was to make it appear as if the film itself had burst into flames. Proving too much of a distraction, the effect was eliminated in the film's preview screenings.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: One of a string of British espionage thrillers Hitchcock directed in the mid-1930s (THE 39 STEPS preceded it in 1935 and SABOTAGE followed in 1936), this one begins in England, 1916, with the funeral of war hero and famed novelist Edgar Brodie (Gielgud). T… (more)

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