Secret Agent (1936)
Pssst, want to check out Secret Agent in our new look?
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Confusingly this "Secret Agent" isn't the Hitchcock film based on Conrad's The Secret Agent - that film was also released in 1936 but under the title "Sabotage" (not to be confused with his later "Saboteur" from 1942). Once that's all clear... this film is an adaptation of Maugham's Ashenden stories starring John Gielgud in an early role as a reluctant spy, which is interesting as he isn't so self indulgently fruity in delivery as he got into the habit of being later. Peter Lorre is completely off the wall as Ashenden's fellow assassin 'The General', he was addicted to morphine at the time, and is good value although extremely over the top. There are some fine moments, some witty repartee between Gielgud and Madeleine Carroll and it's always watchable, but it's definitely not in top rank of Hitchcock's 1930s films.
Peter Lorre is just ridiculous in this one - he plays it as farcical comedy, everyone else plays it straight. Doesn't quite work..
to see which of your friends have seen this movie!