Not Hitchc*ck's Best, Great Early Robert Young Appearance
Despite these difficulties, Hitchc*ck's early films reflect what he would later incorporate into his successful American films for Hollywood. A man is made to appear to have been killed when he in fact goes undercover. He meets a woman who is to be his "wife", a philanderer (Peter Lorre) who pretends to be Mexican but is in fact a ruthless killer (he cackles when he kills, even if it is the wrong man), and tends to overact the part. This is supposed to be for humorous effect but came across forced and silly.
There is a love affair of sorts where the woman spy who is pretending to be a wife actually falls for the guy. Meantime the guy wants out of the spy business but decides to go at it one more time with deadly results. John Gielgud pulls off an understated performance that is charming as well as sincere.
The American actor Robert Young (way too much eye make-up there, Bob!) makes an early appearance as the flirtatious "ugly American" who vies for the woman spy's affections (to little effect). But there is much more to Robert's character than it appears. Hitchc*ck brings off the big reveal in the last 20 minutes of the film in some pretty horrific train crash scenes.
The film's production values are top-notch - use of crowds in moving the story along, the unusual camera angles and close-ups keep the viewer interested, and the excellent tool of light and shadow Hitch learned from his silent movie-making days makes for a technically excellent film, if a somewhat fair story.
There are a few plot holes in the story too, though I may have missed the tie-up due to poor quality - the beginning of the film has a one-armed man who fakes the spy's death (novelist Nolan) but it's hard to figure out how he fits into the story. We never see him again!
Bottom Line: Would have liked to have gotten a better quality copy. Even so, the film is not hard to follow if you can put up with Lorre's silliness! Recommended for Hitch fans only.
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