Secret Agent (1936)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.


Movie Info

Based on the novels of W. Somerset Maugham, The Secret Agent is the second in a trilogy of Alfred Hitchcock spy movies (along with The 39 Steps and Sabotage). Set during WWI, John Gielgud plays British novelist Edgar Brodie who discovers that a government agency has faked his own death. He is then given orders to go to Switzerland to kill a German agent. He goes by the name of Richard Ashenden and travels with secret agent Elsa Carrington (Madeleine Carroll), who poses as his wife. Richard joins … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Action & Adventure, Romance, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Campbell Dixon, W. Somerset Maugham, Jesse Lasky, Charles Bennett, Jesse Lasky Jr.
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 7, 2003
Runtime:
Scott Entertainment

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Cast


as Elsa Carrington

as The General

as Robert Marvin

as Richard Ashenden

as Caypor

as Mrs. Caypor

as Capt. Anderson
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for Secret Agent

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (6)

The film has a fine cast and a fine look -- shot in the Swiss Alps, much of it makes use of unusual white-on-white compositions.

Full Review… | June 3, 2015
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Directed by England's pudgy master of melodrama, Alfred Hitchcock, Secret Agent is a first-rate sample of his knack of achieving speed by never hurrying, horror by concentrating on the prosaic.

Full Review… | June 3, 2015
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

One of the weirdest movies Alfred Hitchcock ever made.

Full Review… | September 17, 2012
New Yorker
Top Critic

Secret Agent dallies much on the way but rates as good spy entertainment, suave story telling, and, in one particular case, brilliant characterization.

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Variety
Top Critic

The picture as a whole is marred by inexpert camera technique, film editing whose incorrectness hits one between the eyes, and strangely uneven sound recording.

Full Review… | August 8, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

This thriller may not be one of Hitchcock's best English films, but it is full of startling set pieces and quirky characterisation.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Secret Agent

Well, considering that this was based on some works by W. Somerset Maugham, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starred John Gielgud and Peter Lorre that it would be one terrific WWI spy thriller.

Surprisingly as it turns out, this film is pretty bad. It's bland, dull, but worst of all boring. Gielgud looks bored and uninterested, Lorre feels out of place, and the plot (three agents join up to take out an undercover spy, but things get complicated when two of them suffer crises of conscience) should be awesome, but I just couldn't get involved or care about it. On top of that, the poicture and sound quality are both really pretty bad at times.

I know that not everything Hitch did was good (at least), but this is just alarmingly terrible. It's as if while making this he had overdosed on apathy pills and stopped trying.

The big train crash climax isn't great, mostly because of the silly and bad effects, but it at least got my attention since it was something happening, instead of lots of nothing taking place.


Even if you're a Hitch diehard, just spare yourself a mess and skip this.

cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

I love Lorre, but his character wasn't that great in this movie. Plus, I didn't get the plot. Maybe I should see it again, but the movie quality is so horrible it's hard to watch.

ajv2688
Aj V

Super Reviewer

½

Decent early Hitchcock with all his classic elements here but also still in their nascent form. As with most of his beginning films the picture itself is very dark and murky, probably due to age of the film and budget constraints at the time. Good performances from all the cast, Lorre stands out as usual.

jjnxn
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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