Secret Agent – 1936 film, is another very interesting spy movie from the 1930s, setting the tone, characters, and plots for many spy movies to come.
In Secret Agent, British Intelligence fakes the death of Edgar Brodie (John Gielgud). He is a Captain and a novelist. But they want to send him on a mission to Switzerland, under a new name. His mission: to locate and kill a German spy.
In this curation (and in the podcast), we discuss things beyond the scope of the movie, and its interrelationship with other movies and events:
- “R” in Secret Agent is like “M” in Bond – the first time used!
- Other movies mentioned: You Only Live Twice; The Spy Who Loved Me; From Russia With Love; SPECTRE; Skyfall; Octopussy; The 39 Steps; Bourne Ultimatum; Mission: Impossible.
- Wife (Elsa) as a cover – not really wife – we see later in Bond films, You Only Live Twice, From Russia With Love, The Spy Who Loved Me!
- The mountain scene – we will see many more mountain scenes in spy movies to come like in The Spy Who Loved Me (pre-title sequence, wherein the ski chase scene Bond skies off a mountain and then opens his parachute), SPECTRE (filmed in Solden, Austria), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Piz Gloria, Schilthorn, Switzerland), For Your Eyes Only (the assault on Meteora, Greece), Mission: Impossible 2 – and more.
- The train scene – 1936 style. But significant!
- Watch the whole movie from here!
In the film, his partner is a woman (Madeleine Carroll) who, for purposes of the spy game, is posing as his “wife.” He is also working with The General (Peter Lorre). Brodie meets her for the first time at the Hotel Excelsior, in Switzerland.
Based on a W. Somerset Maugham novel, “Ashenden”. Note: You can watch the entire movie on YouTube. Secret Agent – 1936 film, is an amazing adventure and well worth your time.
Above all, now, remember Thunderball. Looking back through 1936 when this film was released, we immediately think of the James Bond 007 film, Thunderball (1965). In that movie, the death of SPECTRE spy # 6, Colonel Jacques Bouvar, is faked.
Most importantly, the spy is dressed and posing as his own widow at the funeral. The casket is emblazoned with JB, which we see first before we see Bond. Maybe a disguised threat to the audience that perhaps James Bond is dead. This operative killed two of Bond’s colleagues, and Bond sees through the guise of Bouvar and was waiting for Bouvar at his chateau.
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Finally, a very violent fight ensues. And Bond finally kills Bouvar with a fireplace poker, strangling him and perhaps even breaking his neck. He then escapes with his jetpack flying off to his waiting Aston Martin.
Similarly, in 1967, in one of our favorite pre-title sequences, James Bond’s funeral is center stage, in You Only Live Twice. Here, M and MI6 fake the death of Commander Bond, complete with burial at sea. Now, he can spy clandestinely in Japan to discover how American spacecraft are getting captured in space.
So let’s take a look at this wonderful movie! If you are a spy movie fan, into secret agents and related movies, this is a must-watch for you. This is a great find, and certainly, one of The Best of the Rest in spy and espionage movies. Secret Agent is an important spy movie.
- Alfred Hitchcock
- Louis Levy
- John Gielgud
- Peter Lorre
- Madeline Carroll
- Robert Young
- Charles Carson
- Lilli Palmer
And here in Secret Agent, it is a man identified only as “R” who asks Brodie to undertake this new secret mission.
After arriving in Switzerland, they stay at the Hotel Excelsior, where they were told the German spy was staying.
A suspicious older, bearded man steps into a shop and is handed a note.
The “wife,’ named Elsa Carrington, is having second thoughts about the mission
A couple of scenes later, Ashenden is at the post office with The General
Watch the last 13 minutes of the movie, the culmination of the movie , all on a train.