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Secret People (1952)

Approved | | Crime, Drama | 29 August 1952 (USA)
This tale of intrigue finds Valentina Cortese involved in an assassination plot. She helps the police apprehend the conspirators after an innocent bystander is accidentally killed.


Thorold Dickinson


Thorold Dickinson (from his original story), Joyce Cary (with acknowledgements to) | 3 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Valentina Cortese ... Maria (as Valentina Cortesa)
Serge Reggiani ... Louis
Charles Goldner Charles Goldner ... Anselmo
Audrey Hepburn ... Nora
Angela Fouldes Angela Fouldes ... Nora (as a child)
Megs Jenkins ... Penny
Irene Worth ... Miss Jackson
Reginald Tate ... Inspector Eliot
Norman Williams Norman Williams ... Sergeant Newcome
Michael Shepley ... Manager of the British Pavilion
Athene Seyler ... Mrs. Reginald Kellick
Sydney Tafler Sydney Tafler ... Syd Burnett
Geoffrey Hibbert Geoffrey Hibbert ... Steenie
John Ruddock John Ruddock ... Daly
Michael Allan Michael Allan ... Rodd


In 1930, Maria Brentano and her younger sister Nora flee to London after their father is murdered by a European dictator. Seven years later, during a weekend trip to Paris, Maria unexpectedly meets Louis, her former lover who is now plotting the assassination of the dictator. Maria and Nora become involved in the plan, which goes tragically wrong when the time bomb they plant kills an innocent bystander. Written by alfiehitchie

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Plot Keywords:

starvation | See All (1) »




Crime | Drama


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Two of the themes included in the musical score of the film, composed by Roberto Gerhard, are the traditional Catalan Christmas carols "La Mare de Déu" and "El cant dels ocells", the last one had being popularized much before by the great violoncellist Pau Casals. The reason is that Roberto Gerhard, born in Valls, province of Tarragona (Catalonia), was friend since his childhood of Casals, born in El Vendrell, province of Tarragona and a great connoisseur of Catalan popular music. The tune of "La Mare de Déu" was also used by the well known Catalan musician Xavier Cugat, born in Girona (Catalonia), into his song "My shawl". See more »


The film begins in 1930. A character reads a letter quoting W.H. Auden--"We must love one another or die." But it is from the poem "September ,1939" and was written in the following month. See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits: "Hidden in each one of us is a secret person, often unknown even to ourselves. The force of circumstances can drive us to a point at which this inner character takes charge and alters the course of our lives." See more »


Featured in Stars of the Silver Screen: Audrey Hepburn (2011) See more »


Valse brillante As-dur Op.34-1
Written by Frédéric Chopin
See more »

User Reviews

Every agonizing thought
20 June 2017 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

Maybe the most important thing about Secret People is the fact that William Wyler took a look at this film and decided that his next film Roman Holiday would star an unknown Audrey Hepburn. Hepburn plays a supporting role as the younger sister of Valentina Cortesa. Both are refugees from some unknown eastern European country where the two of them had their father killed by the local dictator.

Audrey was still a kid when she and Valentina came over, but now she's grown up and an aspiring dancer. As for Cortesa she's content enough until Serge Reggiani shows from the old country. He's with the opposition to the dictator and they want to kill him in London while he's on a state visit. So far it sounds like the plot of Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much.

But this film is told from the point of view of the conspirators and how slowly Cortesa is drawn into their web of intrigue despite a lot of misgivings. Every agonizing thought so registers with Cortesa and her performance even after Hepburn who has adjusted well to Great Britain and wants to pursue a career in dance.

As for Reggiani the years have turned him into quite the fanatic. Today he would be called a terrorist.

Secret People is done a bit unevenly in pace, there are spots it drags. But Cortesa and Reggiani carry it through and it's a milestone of sorts for Audrey Hepburn.

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Release Date:

29 August 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Secret People See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Ealing Studios See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System) (Gaumont Kalee Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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