Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dvd/150: SECRET AGENT (Alfred Hitchcock, 1936)

For SECRET AGENT, Hitchcock kept elements from THE 39 STEPS: espionage, mistaken identity, trains and star Madeleine Carroll but while STEPS is regarded a classic, SECRET AGENT has met with less favour but I find it great fun.

In 1916, writer Edgar Brodie is given a new identity by MI5 as 'Richard Ashenden' and is sent to Switzerland with fellow agent Elsa - posing as his wife - and The General, an eccentric, enigmatic assassin, to catch a German secret agent. 

While Elsa encourages the humourous advances of Robert Marvin, an American guest at their hotel Ashenden and the General suspect the spy is a seemingly benign Englishman.

The General kills him but to Ashenden and Elsa's horror they have targeted the wrong man.  Can they unmask the real spy?

Gielgud's austere performance sits oddly with the relaxed charm of Carroll, Robert Young, the magnificent Peter Lorre and a young Lilli Palmer.

Shelf or charity shop?  Shelf


teadoust said...

which dvd version did you see and what condition was it in? i know that Secret Agent is one of those Hitchcock titles that was in the public domain for a while and as a result there are a load of really cruddy looking dvd versions of it out there.

chrisv said...

Hey teadoust, it was an ok print, part of the Network box-set of Hitchcock: The British Years with an introduction by Charles Barr