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Tricia's retro film review: The Secret Agent (1936)

The Secret Agent (1936)


The Secret Agent is the 1936 espionage film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and based on a book by W. Somerset Maugham. A British writer has learned that is own death has been faked and he is assigned a partner known as “The General.” They are sent to Switzer land to stop a German Agent. He is given the code name Ashenden and a “wife.” However, he has his doubts when they track down the agent, which are immediately confirmed when the General kills the man and he turns out to be innocent. “Mrs. Ashenden” decides to drop out of the mission. Can Ashenden find the real agent without sacrificing his morals?

While it’s not the most memorable movie in Alfred Hitchcock’s career. It’s pretty decent. It wasn’t accepted in its own time because it seemed to “undermine patriotism” by implying that the British government will do anything to win. The movie might have probably done better today, since most viewers have grown to like morally ambiguous espionage thrillers. Luckily, the main characters retain our sympathy by raising concerns about the mission. Familiar Hitchcockian themes are present here, such as mistaken identity and the icy blonde. Although it still feels as if Alfred Hitchcock has not fully developed his movie making talents. Luckily, it manages to be a good movie, light years away from the train wreck that was Number 17. It is also not surprising that Peter Lorre would steal the show, as he has a talent for playing memorable bad guys. Some viewers may wonder what all the fuss is about, as this movie may not be as well developed as his later movies. It’s still worth a look. Honolulu Hitchcock fans should at least rent it.

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