Secret Agent ★★★½

A more successful attempt to repeat the magic of 39 Steps with a lithe and young Gielgud as British soldier back from the dead and called upon to serve king and country. Peter Lorre returns from stealing the show in Man Who Knew Too Much as a flamboyant wet-work artist and sporting some sort of a Hungarian afro. Madeleine Carrol is great as the MI-6-assigned Screwball wife, and Robert Young is a bit of a surprise for those who know him best from Father Knows Best.

The comedic chemistry between this odd foursome works and balances well with the suspense. There are a few excellent set pieces in which the Hitchcock touch shines particularly a scene in a church with an early bell-tower sequence (cf. Vertigo) and a nice overhead shot looking down organ pipes. And most delicious of all is the chocolate factory scene, a tour de force which allowed Hitch to breakout some tools from packed in storage since the Silent Era.

The ending is a bit of a train wreck.

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