SECRET AGENT

(1936)
With John Gielgud, Madeline Carrolle, Peter Lorre, Robert Young, Percy Marmont
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

Secret Agent

     A fairly entertaining spy thriller from Hitchcock's British period, SECRET AGENT nevertheless suffers from an overabundance of plot twists (a weakness the director himself regretted) and some miscast leading players. John Gielgud plays an English novelist whose death has been faked by the government; he is given a new identity and assigned to kill a German spy living in Switzerland. Although he was among the finest classical actors of the 20th century, Gielgud is too restrained in this film and lacks any emotional connection with his character. Madeline Carroll is also a bit lifeless compared to her spirited work in THE 39 STEPS, and what the heck is Robert Young doing in this picture? Peter Lorre is the standout in the cast (as he was in THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH), delivering a sputtering and hyperbolic performance as a short-tempered agent working undercover as a Mexican general. In all, SECRET AGENT is enjoyable, but not essential, Hitchcock.  - JL

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