The Great Manhunt (1950)
"State Secret" (original title)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Romance, Thriller  |  11 September 1950 (UK)
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Visiting in England, famed American surgeon Doctor John Marlowe is decoyed to a middle European country, and discovers the operation he is to perform is on the Vosnian dictator. When the ... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Colonel Galcon
Lisa Robinson
Walter Rilla ...
General Niva
Karel Stepanek ...
Dr. Revo
Karl Theodor
Hans Olaf Moser ...
Sigrist (as Hans Moser)
Guido Lorraine ...
Lieutenant Prachi
Robert Ayres ...
Arthur J. Buckman
Howard Douglas ...
Martin Boddey ...
Russell Waters ...
Arthur Howard ...
Carl Jaffe ...
Janovic Prada
Gerard Heinz ...
Tomasi Bendel


Visiting in England, famed American surgeon Doctor John Marlowe is decoyed to a middle European country, and discovers the operation he is to perform is on the Vosnian dictator. When the latter dies, he is replaced by a look-alike, but Marlowe is the object of a shoot-to-kill, vicious pursuit by the secret police of Vosnia since it is vital to Vosnia that the dictator's death does not become known. Fleeing, he seeks help from an English-speaking actress, Lisa Robinson, and the two are harried across the countryside before being captured. (Produced by the British team of Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat "in association with London Films" and released in the U.S. by Columbia Pictures Corporation.) Written by Les Adams <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

11 September 1950 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Great Manhunt  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


A brief segment of this movie was recreated on NBC Radio's "The Big Show" starring Talullah Bankhead. Because this segment did not give any idea of how the movie ended, Ms Bankhead offered the cost of a movie ticket to find out the ending. See more »


At the 'river docks', a London bus is visible in the background passing over the bridge. The stern of the 'barge' shown is also very clearly that of an English narrowboat, found nowhere on the Continent. See more »


Dr. John Marlowe: They tell me that in some parts of the world musicians are finding it increasingly difficult to compose non-political music, so it's very gratifying to think that a doctor can still perform a non-political operation.
See more »


Referenced in Beyond Recognition (2003) See more »


Paper Doll
Written by Johnny Black
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User Reviews

Brilliant but sadly underrated political thriller.
8 October 2006 | by (Wootton Bassett, England) – See all my reviews

"State Secret" is one of the best political thrillers that I have ever seen. The storyline, script, acting, photography and direction are all top notch. Considering that the film is over 50 years old, it does not seem dated at all; in fact, the plot could easily be applicable to this day. Douglas Fairbanks manages to convince in his role as the visiting American surgeon, but it is the supporting cast - Glynis Johns, Jack Hawkins and particularly Herbert Lom that runs the show. Lom has one of the best one-liners in Hollywood history when he disdainfully tells Fairbanks "Oh please, don't say that it is the principle of the thing....that usually turns out to be so much more expensive!" Sidney Gillat's direction keeps the pace brisk & eventful. A must buy on DVD, certainly for me.

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