Secret Agent (1936)
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as Elsa Carrington
as The General
as Robert Marvin
as Richard Ashenden
as Mrs. Caypor
as Capt. Anderson
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Critic Reviews for Secret Agent
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.
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.
Secret Agent dallies much on the way but rates as good spy entertainment, suave story telling, and, in one particular case, brilliant characterization.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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