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British Intelligence (1940)

Approved | | Romance, Thriller, War | 29 January 1940 (USA)
Although the home of cabinet minister Arthur Bennett is a hotbed of spies, moles, and double agents, no one knows the true identity of notorious German spymaster Strendler.

Director:

Terry O. Morse (as Terry Morse)

Writers:

Lee Katz (screen play), Anthony Paul Kelly (based on a play ['Two Faces East'] by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Boris Karloff ... Valdar
Margaret Lindsay ... Helene von Lorbeer
Bruce Lester ... Frank Bennett
Leonard Mudie ... James Yeats
Holmes Herbert ... Arthur Bennett
Austin Fairman Austin Fairman ... George Bennett
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Storyline

During WWI pretty German master spy Helene von Lorbeer is sent undercover to London to live with the family of a high-placed British official where she is to rendezvous with the butler Valdar, also a spy, and help him transmit secret war plans back to Germany. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Romance | Thriller | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French | German

Release Date:

29 January 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Secret Enemy See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Some cast members in studio records/casting call lists did not appear or were not identifiable in the movie. These were (with their character names): Sidney Bracey (Crowder), Jack Mower (Morton), Gordon Hart (Doctor) and John Sutton (Officer). The voice of the man in the car bringing home Frank Bennett sounded a bit like Sutton, but he was not fully on camera and could not be identified. See more »

Goofs

When in London in a taxi, Helene says to Henry Thompson "Wasn't there a son?" Thompson replies "Frank, I think his name is. He's in France in the Air Force." The Royal Air Force did not come into existence until 1st April 1918 and was at that time The Royal Flying Corps. See more »

Quotes

Helene Von Lorbeer, aka Frances Hautry: [hoping to meet Strendler] I'm so anxious to meet him, his work, his methods - a genius!
Valdar, aka Karl Schiller: No! A symbol of blind duty!
Helene Von Lorbeer, aka Frances Hautry: Or a complete patriot?
Valdar, aka Karl Schiller: Perhaps he has no soul, no conscience, nothing! He'd kill you or me - for duty!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: FRANCE 1917 See more »

Connections

Version of Three Faces East (1926) See more »

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User Reviews

 
London's crawling with spies in this recycled stage potboiler
14 November 2008 | by LCShackleySee all my reviews

"British Intelligence" is a moderately successful WW1 espionage thriller, with perhaps too many coincidences and double-crosses for its moderate length. Spies change sides with such regularity that scorecards should have been passed out along with ticket stubs.

This is a recycled stage play from 1918, obviously brought back for its propaganda value. That also explains why it's so claustrophobic. How many good spy movies spend most of their time in a few indoor locations?

Having recently watched a number of spy films from 1939-1950, I'm left with the impression that London was virtually crawling with German agents, disguised as porters, milkmen, secretaries, butlers, etc. But historical evidence shows that the Abwehr was fairly inept at placing spies and saboteurs during WW2. (Check out "Agent Zigzag" by Ben McIntyre, a book which deserves to be a movie.) Most of the problems in these movies could be solved if high-ranking Brits would stop talking about secret plans in front of open windows, or sinister-looking office staff. Who was vetting these other employees?

There are some fine aerial sequences to relieve the claustrophobia, especially the destruction of a munitions dump, and an eerie nocturnal zeppelin raid over London.

Boris Karloff is given top billing for one of his least convincing performances. Of course, he has the chance to loom and lurk (his trademarks), but his French accent is so bad that any moron could tell he wasn't who he claimed to be. (And what about that name "Valdar" - sounding more like a Transylvanian than a Frenchman?) The ending of the film will come as no surprise to anyone who has watched more than a handful of spy films.

Three speeches in the film (one by a German in spiked hat; two by Brits) were obviously inserted in this WW1 drama as warnings about the rise of Hitler. If there's any doubt, the final speech is delivered straight to the camera, reminding Britons that "we hate war, we despise it, but when war comes we must and will fight on and on and..." (fade to black).


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