The Hitchcock Haul: Secret Agent  1936

220px-Secret_Agent_(1936_film)_posterSecret Agent was fun! I think it contains some of Hitchcock’s better developed characters during this time in his career. I also learned that women in the ’30s really enjoyed sleeping around, fiances be damned! Ok, on with the summary:

Loosely based on short stories by W. Somerset Maugham, a soldier/writer named Brodie (John Gielgud) is “killed off” and transformed into a British spy by a mysterious man named “R”. Given the new identity of Richard Ashenden, Brodie travels to Switzerland to track down a German spy that has thus far evaded all attempts made toward his capture. Upon arriving, Brodie finds that he’s been assigned a wife, the lovely, thrill-seaking Elsa Carrington (Madeleine Carrol, who also starred in The 39 Steps). But that’s not all he finds. A flashy American socialite by the name of Robert Marvin (Robert Young) has zeroed in on Elsa and is determined to steal her away from her “husband”. The advances are so obvious that it makes me wonder how brazen people actually were back then.


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The Hitchcock Haul: The Man Who Knew Too Much Double Feature

imagesHitchcock made The Man Who Knew Too Much in 1934 during his career in England. It starred Peter Lorre and was a hit at the box office and with critics. In 1956 while in America, he remade The Man Who Knew Too Much to fulfill a contract obligation with Paramount and cast Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day as the leads. He agreed with the studio heads that his original was a great film with room for wonderful improvement in the new era of filmmaking. This week I watched both versions of the film back to back, and came to the conclusion that the 1956 version may have been a better film at the time, but that ruling doesn’t stand today. Ultimately, I think the 1934 version is more engaging and a better example of storytelling.

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