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The Secret Adversary (1983)

After two old friends accidentally meet and resolve to become investigators for hire, they quickly become embroiled in a missing treaty and a Bolshevik conspiracy.


Tony Wharmby


Agatha Christie (novel), Pat Sandys (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
James Warwick ... Tommy Beresford
Francesca Annis ... Tuppence Cowley
Gavan O'Herlihy ... Julius P. Hersheimmer
Alec McCowen ... Sir James Peele Edgerton
Honor Blackman ... Rita Vandemeyer
Peter Barkworth ... Mr. Carter
Toria Fuller ... Jane Finn / Annette
John Fraser ... Kramenin
George Baker ... Whittington
Donald Houston ... Boris
Joseph Brady ... Dr. Hall
Wolf Kahler ... The German
Reece Dinsdale ... Albert
Peter Lovstrom ... Henry
Matthew Scurfield ... Conrad


Childhood friends Tommy and Tuppence (Prudence) meet in London after having served in World War I. Recently "demobed", short of money, and with no job prospects, they decide to become adventurers for hire. Soon, they are employed by the British Government to locate a secret treaty signed before the war. Bolsheviks, kidnappings, missing persons, and a marriage proposal for Tuppence, keep things moving for The Young Adventurers, Ltd. Written by Mike Smith <mismith@brody.med.ecu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

9 October 1983 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Agatha Christie - Matrimonio de sabuesos: El misterioso señor Brown See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film is very accurate in comparison to the book. See more »


Tuppence gets 50 pounds from Mr. Whittington. Two days later, 3 at the most, Tommy says they only have 5 pounds left. All we know is they were out to an elegant dinner once or maybe twice which would not have used up 45 pounds in 1919. See more »


[first lines]
Tommy Beresford: Tuppence?
Tuppence Cowley: Tommy! You! Of all people, you.
[They embrace. Tuppence shows Tommy the bread crumbs in her hand]
Tuppence Cowley: Ducks.
Tommy Beresford: Of course.
Tuppence Cowley: Oh, dear old bean.
See more »


Followed by Partners in Crime (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

Too complicated for its own good and some questionable performances, but an okay film
30 July 2006 | by BrandtSponsellerSee all my reviews

The Secret Adversary serves as the beginning of the BBC series "Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime". A full-length film, I've seen it claimed that it was filmed after the ten episodes of the series, and IMDb lists the series as preceding this film, yet it's the story of how "Partners in Crime" protagonists Tommy and Tuppence meet up as adults and start their sleuthing career, and according to IMDb, at least, it aired a year or so before the series on BBC.

It's a decent but flawed film that will probably be enjoyed most by hardcore Christie fans. One main flaw is that the story is too complicated for its own good--probably the result of trying to translate a novel to a two-hour film. There are just too many characters, too many threads, and occasionally, too little explanation of characters and threads.

One major problem here is the core of the plot--maybe I'm just lacking some knowledge from the real world that I need to understand it, but the plot hinges on a political document that if found, is predicted (with little lack of certainty) to bring about a complete revolution/overthrow of England. It is never explained why this would be or how anyone could be so certain of it, and I sure couldn't deduce or intuit it from the information given. I was also confused about the implied ethics of the situation--the document seemed to be authentic, yet the "good guys" seemed to want to get it so that they could keep it a secret, so effectively, it is sanctioning the "good guys" lying about some piece of history. Maybe the document was supposed to be more like a Hitchcockian MacGuffin, but if so, it seemed like too many details were given (as well as left out).

On the other hand, it didn't help that I'm a bit hard of hearing, that I have an even more difficult time making out English spoken with accents different than mine, and that this DVD didn't have subtitles. But I could pick up most of the dialogue, and I was still occasionally confused about who someone was and why our chief characters were going where they were going and doing what they were doing. Some cuts and scene transitions were very rough dramatically, so that didn't help, either, and the pacing gets a bit draggy at times.

The other primary flaw comes with some of the performances, especially Gavan O'Herlihy, playing an American, Julius P. Hersheimmer. He is fairly awkward throughout, and he's an important character. It kills too many scenes. The stars, James Warwick and Francesca Annis, as Tommy and Tuppence, respectively, are much better--enough that I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the series, which I'm also predicting might not be so overcomplicated and underexplained because of being written for a shorter television slot.

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