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The Secret Agent (1996)

London of the late 19th century is a haven for political exiles of all sorts - refugees, partisans, anarchists. Verloc has made his living spying for the Russian government, an agent ... See full summary »
1 nomination. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Ralph Nossek ...
Neville Phillips ...


London of the late 19th century is a haven for political exiles of all sorts - refugees, partisans, anarchists. Verloc has made his living spying for the Russian government, an agent provocateur of sorts, while simultaneously providing information to the London police, specifically Chief Inspector Heat. When the new Russian ambassador demands he prove his worth or lose his salary, Verloc sets off a tragic chain of events that involves his pretty young wife Winnie, her intellectually disabled brother Stevie, and a figure called the Professor, whose fascination with explosives and destruction makes him the person to call on when Verloc needs a bomb. Written by Gary Dickerson <slug@mail.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some moments of violence | See all certifications »




Release Date:

8 November 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent  »

Box Office


$7,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Bob Hoskins was originally set to direct as well. See more »


[last lines]
The Professor: I myself have no future. But I am a force.
The Professor: [stands and raises his glass] To the destruction of what is.
See more »


Version of Startime (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

A masterpiece movie version of a great work of art by Joseph Conrad.
26 August 2004 | by (Greenville, North Carolina) – See all my reviews

Joseph Conrad was a visionary. He realized that the society in which we live is imperfect and hypocritical. Over one hundred years ago he realized, as did Herman Melville and other great thinkers, that women do not enjoy an equal stature with men in society. So he chose to write a great novel that deals with this issue both subtly and forcefully. The Secret Agent is not what it may seem to some to be upon first reading or viewing -- i.e., a spy thriller. On the contrary, it is an in-depth analysis and portrayal of the relative powerlessness of most women in society. It does not preach. It does not advocate. Conrad leaves it up to the reader (or viewer in the case of the excellent movie version) to draw whatever conclusions are pertinent for that person. Thus it is art, because it creates an enduring impression that seems to come from the reader's or viewer's own mind.

The movie version is superbly acted by a cast of master actors who quite clearly are very pleased to be participating with each other in creating this masterpiece movie. One gets the impression that each of the "lucky" actors has great respect for the book and its author and its messages, much as many Shakespearean players do when they "give their all" for the play.

The result is a realistic heart-wrenching tragedy. This may explain why it is not favored among common moviegoers that want and expect a Hollywood happy ending. Instead they get the real world, superbly depicted.

If you want fun, don't view this film. If you want to be challenged intellectually and ethically, then by all means watch it several times. And then tell your serious-minded friends and acquaintances about the existence of this movie. They will thank you!

Professor JimBob

32 of 51 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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