Secret Agent

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Year Released: 1936
Rating: 2.5

Stylish early thriller by Hitch that would be the foundation for later works (especially North by Northwest) but itself is plagued by muddled plot details (and a lack of flow). John Gielgud and Peter Lorre - an unbelievably odd twosome - are sent to kill a man in Switzerland, but it turns out it's the wrong man, leading them to another mission into a chocolate factory (!) and then on a train full of Germans (trains being incredibly popular with Hitch). For completists there are many fascinating ideas at use here - eliminating dialogue from the chocolate factory sequence (replacing it with noise), shooting on location in Switzerland and using common 'symbols' from the region (the food, the Alps), examining 'cinematic morality' (Lorre is guilty of killing an innocent man and so has to die himself; Gielgud merely 'witnesses' it and is permitted to move on) - and Madeleine Carroll does nice work as the headstrong Hitchcockian blonde.