Secret Agent (1936)

Secret Agent (1936), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Adapted (loosely, as always) from W. Somerset Maugham's Ashenden, a fine collection of stories based on his experience as a spy-master in Switzerland during WW1. Possibly confusing: Joseph Conrad's novel, The Secret Agent was adapted by Hitchcock for his film Sabotage also in 1936. Which is not the same as his Saboteur (1942) written by Dorothy Parker and others. Are you writing this down?

Here we see him continuing to develop the romance/comedy/thriller genre he was so good at. This story is darker than others, in that our agent couple come to realize they are doing simple murder and it bothers them. It's worse after they kill the wrong man. But the comedy and wryness never completely drain away.

The production is a bit rough and I get lost as to who they are after and what they are trying accomplish. Builds to a nice tense ending.

John Gielgud is very reserved and mannered, more like a character from a Noel Coward comedy. Madeleine Carroll is good to have along but doesn't seem to know what to do with herself. Peter Lorre has a great time as the Hairless Mexican, a killer whose nickname has to be explained away here. Robert Young is an irritating American playboy and our #1 suspect from the beginning.