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Determined, independent Bridie Quilty comes of age in 1944 Ireland thinking all Englishmen are devils. Her desire to join the IRA meets no encouragement, but a German spy finds her easy to recruit. We next find her working in a pub near a British military prison, using her sex appeal in the service of the enemy. But chance puts a really vital secret into her hands, leading to a chase involving Bridie, a British officer who's fallen for her, a German agent unknown to them both, and the police...paralleled by Bridie's own internal conflicts. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
In Devon in June 1944, sunset would be after 10 pm (Double Summer Time), and indeed when the clock strikes 9 and Bridie suddenly ends her date with David we see them moving against a daytime sky. Yet in the prisoner scene occurring simultaneously, it's fully dark. See more »
[Bridie's thoughts as she sizes up her compartment-mate on a train.]
His hair is going grey, but it looks very nice the way he has it brushed. He's a faraway look in his eyes... a poet maybe. No, he's much too clean. And he puts his trousers under the mattress like Terence Delaney. Hasn't he the lovely nails? He's a gentleman, I think. I don't like being alone with a strange man at this time of night. He doesn't look that sort of man, of course, but how can you tell? Mr. McGee didn't look that ...
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Deborah Kerr makes a feisty Bridie Quilty in suspenseful spy film...
I SEE A DARK STRANGER depends heavily on the central performance of DEBORAH KERR to carry its story about a naive young Irish woman who has grown up hating the British, thanks to her father's romanticized view of the Irish rebellion. She travels to Ireland to volunteer her services as a spy for the IRA, is promptly rebuffed and reminded that "things are neutral now", but is spotted by RAYMOND HUNTLEY who wants to use her services for his own espionage purposes.
What's so wonderful about the film, called THE ADVENTURESS in the U.S., is that it combines humor with drama, mystery and suspense, always with Kerr's strong performance as Bridie Quilty as the center of attention. Kerr uses her facial expressions expertly, especially in close-ups where we can actually see what she is thinking. It's a performance on par with her work in BLACK NARCISSUS, where close-ups allowed her to fully reveal a character's intentions and motivations.
TREVOR HOWARD is the Englishman instantly attracted to her who gradually comes to understand that she's involved in something way beyond her scope and is soon just as involved in all the intrigue as she is. There are unexpected twists and turns throughout and some very droll moments of comedy when a funeral procession turns out to be something quite unexpected.
The weaknesses only are apparent during the last fifteen minutes with an extended fight scene that borders on slapstick before Kerr and Howard are allowed a quieter moment of romance. And then the final zinger involving a hotel sign that infuriates Kerr--but I'll let that remain hidden so you can enjoy the moment.
Summing up: Highly satisfactory British film which won Deborah Kerr a N.Y. Film Critics Award as Best Actress in 1947--also for BLACK NARCISSUS.
Trivia note: David TOMLINSON and JOAN HICKSON both have brief roles, but you have to be awfully quick to catch a glimpse of Hickson.
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