Secret Agent - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Secret Agent Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 11, 2007
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.
Super Reviewer
September 3, 2010
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.
Super Reviewer
½ June 23, 2008
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.
Super Reviewer
½ June 18, 2009
You have to love really classic Hitchcock to enjoy this. The usual Hitchcock Twist, easy to guess as I did half way through. Its from 1936, opening Credits, had Ireland free State listed. A very Young Robert Young and Peter Lorre. What shade is Lorre??? Anyway a Spy vs Spy Thriller, film was decent quality. It came with 11 other hitchcock movies. 2 1/2 stars.
Super Reviewer
June 27, 2006
Very stylishly shot and lit - better to look at than to listen to.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
March 16, 2012
I don't really know what to make of this picture. It is not one of Hitchcock's best or is it any thrilling. All I know is that it is a spy drama set in the first world war. John Gielgud plays British novelist Edgar Brodie who discovers that a government agency has faked his own death. Brodie is then given orders to go to Switzerland to kill a German agent. Brodie travels with secret agent Elsa Carrington (Madeleine Carroll), who poses as his wife. Richard joins professional killer the General (Peter Lorre) to look for clues.

That is all I know...I was mostly lost in the film's plot my mind kept on wondering as key information passed by. "Secret Agent" isn't a bad film but I wish it was more intriguing just as intrigued I was when watching "Easy Virtue". Still, this is a film I would recommend. Just try not to be bored.
Super Reviewer
May 27, 2009
I'd have to say it's a minor Hitchcock, but still carries alot with it.
The plot is interesting and peculiar, and Peter Lorre pulls a performance that's both racist, goofy, and very creepy. Some of the humor is strange as hell, but in the end you have an interesting conclusion.
June 13, 2014
A very good movie; the scene in which the dog cries out is agonizingly suspenseful...and there are others; Lorre is great! B+
February 17, 2014
More bland drama, with good Hitchcock cinematography and a decent plot. The characters are okay, and the pacing isn't too bad. Yet it's not the best, nor the most interesting.
January 16, 2013
I almost feel like I can't properly say anything about this film since the print I viewed on DVD was so bad that numerous shots were just indecipherable blobs of blackness. My imagination was able to fill in some of the gaps but it was clear that this is not one of Hitchcock's finest.
His style is obviously abundant with a seemingly extra dose of his humor coming forth in this one thanks to the extremely fun performance by Peter Lorre.
It is clear that many aspects of this film were used in later films by Hitch (as well as numerous films from the spy genre in general) so we should definitely note 'Secret Agent's importance as a trendsetter in that regard.
½ October 5, 2010
a great early thriller from Hitchcock. great actor chemistry and some outstanding use of camera work to enhance the story and suspense. what I didn't especially like was how Lorre's character was filmed. mostly he seemed like the comic relief, but certain closeups and focuses on his more sinister side led me to lean unnecessary suspicion towards him, even after the true antagonist was revealed. overall though, a really enjoyable film.
½ March 20, 2010
The notable thing here is the various ways in which Hitchcock conveys information about plot or character simply from a look or a gesture.
½ September 23, 2009
It fits in beautifully with his late 30's thriller period, perhaps not as memorable as 39 Steps or Lady Vanishes, but every bit as good as Young and Innocent or Sabotage. A few clunky bits, but loaded with marvelous little touches like the roulette wheel and the snuffing out of the cigarette, and scenes of taut suspense. Peter Lorre hams it up a little, but his combination of comedy and menace is a treat. If the story as a whole feels a bit uneventful, it is at least very well-crafted.
August 29, 2009
Witty and quick-paced, this early film of Hitchcocks feels quite like his later ones. The cast melds well together and help the film to flow easily through as they are able to interact fluidly and naturally. Hitch shows his style of direction well here and like always manages to capture the suspense through music and characters waiting for something, anything to happen. The ups and downs, pros and cons of the spy business are experienced here. The first half moves better than the second half does which hurts the film. The film incorporates classic Hitchcockian elements including romance, intrigue, humor, and some twists (albeit the main one is predictable) and captures a very James Bond-like spy thriller, but on a lesser note.
February 29, 2008
Lorre & Gielgud were great together... Favorite scenes are that of Carroll engaging Young on the train & that of Lorre making romantic passes at Carroll & other women... Good suspense on the identification of the spy... Good Hitchcock movie...
December 29, 2007
I rather like this film. The drama, suspense, romance, ... Hitchcock at his finest. It is about making choices and taking chaces.
½ September 16, 2007
An early Hitchcock piece that hasn't held up well over the years. It seems quite dull in hindsight. Yet "The Secret Agent" is intriguing because it invented the formula that the cinematic Bond movies would follow for years to come. The Hitchcock-ian plot twist is present, as are some morally-ambiguous occurrences and a memorable performance by Peter Lorre.
June 10, 2007
Early, fun, roller-coaster Hitch. Gielgud is great as our hero, but it's Lorre's performance that is endlessly fascinating. Terrific human drama punctuated by some marvelous set-pieces--the murder through a telescope, the chocolate factory sequence.
July 23, 2007
Almost missed this. Wrong title. There's no "The". It's just "Secret Agent" and while not the best Hitch. It's pretty good.
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