The General (Peter Lorre), Elsa (Madeleine Carroll), Ashenden (John Gielgud)

The shot above of three British agents is taken after they make their first killing together. In a room sits Madeleine Carroll, Robert Young, and an old woman. While the old woman talks about the German language with Carroll, a small dog is clawing at the door to the room. We crosscut to John Gielgud and Peter Lorre as they hike a mountain with a man who they are to kill. It cuts back to the room and the dog is still scratching at the door. The dog’s owner is the man to die. We cut back and forth between the mountain and the room as the suspense builds. Gielgud breaks off from Lorre and the man to go to a nearby observatory. He looks through a telescope and as Lorre reaches out for the man, we cut to the dog who is now whining. The man is dead and something in Carroll is too.

There are three to four wonderful sequences like that betray the fact that you are watching an Alfred Hitchcock movie. The agents have been instructed to track down a man who is working for Germany during WWI. It follows them as they trace the man across Europe and their consciences catch up with them. Well, at least in the case of Carroll and Gielgud because Lorre loves his work.

Speaking of Lorre, he plays a horny Latin killer who almost makes the movie worth watching all by himself. In addition, there is a fair amount of verbal banter between Carroll, Young, and Gielgud who fill the time between the suspense well enough. It’s worth a look.

Advertisements