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Secret Agent (1936)

Unrated  |   |  Mystery, Thriller  |  15 June 1936 (USA)
6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 5,610 users  
Reviews: 62 user | 43 critic

After three British agents are assigned to assassinate a mysterious German spy during World War I, two of them become ambivalent when their duty to the mission conflicts with their consciences.

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(play), (novel), 4 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Richard Ashenden / Brodie
...
Percy Marmont ...
Florence Kahn ...
Charles Carson ...
'R'
...
Lilli
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Storyline

During the first world war, novelist Edgar Brodie is sent to Switzerland by the Intelligence Service. He has to kill a German agent. During the mission he meets a fake general first and then Elsa Carrington who helps him in his duty. Written by Claudio Sandrini <pulp99@geocities.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Dead Women Tell No Tales Was The Motto of This Charming Lady Killer ! See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

15 June 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Laugh Track: Secret Agent  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Full Range Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Based on W. Somerset Maugham's "Ashenden" spy stories ("The Traitor" and "The Hairless Mexican") and a play by Campbell Dixon. See more »

Goofs

Ashenden's resignation letter changes between scenes. The first time we see it, it reads: "Now that I have resigned / if you want a successor for / me I can give you the / name of a good reliable butcher" When Carrington later looks at it and cuts it up, it reads: "Now that I have resigned / if you want a successor / for me I can give you / the name of a good / reliable butcher" See more »

Quotes

The General: General Pompellio Montezuma De- oh, we've already met.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Breach (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Bulgar Folk Song
(uncredited)
Traditional
Arranged by Hubert Bath
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Good, but not classic, Hitchcock

When the topic of spy movies comes up, James Bond is usually one of the first names to arise. But even spy movies had a beginning, and sure enough, in the first couple decades of cinema, who was there making spy movies? Alfred Hitchcock.

Like the other spy movies he did, (Take Torn Curtain and Topaz for instance, two of his later works. How much later? Nearly 40 years later), Secret Agent is a spy movie without lots of explosions or car chases or shootouts. Instead it is about a man who goes undercover to break up a potentially disastrous international agenda of some kind, and along the way falls in love with his partner and realizes that he's not up to the task of murdering someone.

This 1936 movie is another in Hitchcock's decade-long run of British talkies: highly-contrasted black and white, under 90 minutes generally, and devoid of major stars (except for Peter Lorre, who appears in this movie two years after he did The Man Who Knew Too Much).

But unlike many of the movies surrounding it (Young and Innocent, The 39 Steps), this one isn't quite as good. Not that Secret Agent is a bad movie, far from it:

The directing is fine, and the church-murder scene is a beautiful mix of sound and picture. Lorre is much like the male version of Bette Davis - overacting and proud of it. His role as the womanizing yet clever "General" is much lighter than his usual horror-laced stuff, and he still pulls it off with ease. The leads are equally good. And the humor laced throughout is genuinely funny. (Note that, even in 1936, it is obvious that Hitchcock was already looking for the actress that would be fulfilled in Grace Kelly - the strong, feisty, beautiful blonde leading lady.)

But there's nothing here to just make the jaw drop and the eyes widen. It is a good movie, and from a director that has had whole decades worth of *great* movies, it just seems subpar. A previous commentor was right: This was the movie for Hitchcock to remake in the 1950s (with color and Cary Grant and Grace Kelly - heck, maybe even a minor role for Jimmy Stewart), not The Man Who Knew Too Much, which was one of his best British films.

Overall, it is good and worth the watch - especially for Hitchcock fans, but it's just not quite *there*.

7/10


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