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Secret Agent (1936)

Not Rated | | Mystery, Thriller | 15 June 1936 (USA)
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.

Director:

Alfred Hitchcock

Writers:

Campbell Dixon (play), W. Somerset Maugham (novel) | 4 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Madeleine Carroll ... Elsa Carrington
Peter Lorre ... The General
John Gielgud ... Richard Ashenden / Edgar Brodie
Robert Young ... Robert Marvin
Percy Marmont ... Caypor
Florence Kahn Florence Kahn ... Mrs. Caypor
Charles Carson ... 'R'
Lilli Palmer ... 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:

Mystery - Intrigue - Romance, burn a flaming trail among the gay capitals of Europe See more »

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | German | French

Release Date:

15 June 1936 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Laugh Track: Secret Agent See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Full Range Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sir John Gielgud filmed this during the day while appearing on-stage in "Romeo and Juliet" opposite Edith Evans, Peggy Ashcroft, and Sir Laurence Olivier in the evening. See more »

Goofs

The General (Peter Lorre) drops his hat in the church and then he runs upstairs together with Edgar Brodie (John Gielgud). When they get there he has his hat on again. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Caypor: Do you understand German, Mr. Marvin?
Robert Marvin: No, but I speak it fluently.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in E! True Hollywood Story: Alfred Hitchcock (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Good, but not classic, Hitchcock
20 July 2001 | by TexMetal4JCSee all my reviews

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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