In Secret Agent, much like in You Only Live Twice, the opening scene is a wake/funeral – this time of a solider/author who has “died.” In the film, it is May 10, 1916, so the action will take place during WW-I. With Edgar Brodie “dead,” Edgar Brodie is assigned a new name, Richard Ashenden, and is issued 2 passports: one American, one British.
“R” in Secret Agent assigns Brodie the mission, and “M” in Bond assigns missions to Bond. Here, we see for the first time in spy movies, the one pulling the strings identified by only a letter! Though in Secret Agent, he does say Rhododendron is what R stands for. Watch the very solemn scene of the wake, the haunting music as people file by the closed coffin, and the scene when everyone leaves the room except one, which sets up the rest of the spy movie.