Secret People

Film

Thrillers

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Time Out says

A striking thriller inspired by a newspaper item about a woman working for the IRA who suffered a change of heart, informed on her husband, and was forced to assume a new identity under police protection. Set in London in 1937, the film generalises the issue by turning the heroine into a refugee from the dictatorship that killed her father (Fascist Italy by any other name), and who is persuaded by her lover to join a terrorist plot to kill the dictator, which goes horribly wrong. Although slipping into convention here and there (stereotyping of minor characters, the facile melodrama of the final scene), the script manages to avoid offering easy answers to its questions as to whether violence corrupts and whether it can ever be justified, at least until the scene of the bomb outrage at a society reception, almost Hitchcockian in its suspense as the wrong people come and go and a waitress finally becomes the victim. Superbly staged by Dickinson (directing with fluid subtlety throughout), this sequence brings the film unequivocally out on the side of its motto borrowed from Auden: 'We must love one another or die'. But the complex abysses that lie between private feelings and political beliefs are nevertheless plumbed with remarkable thoroughness in the relationship between Cortese and Reggiani (both giving superb performances).
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Release details

UK release:

1951

Duration:

96 mins

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