24 April 2019 | niels-4
Interesting movie from British pre-war cinema
I have been waiting to see this movie for many years and finally here it is. Thanks to the great effort in restoring this lost melodrama from the vault of the British cinema. On Secret service (aka Spy 77) is routinly directed by Arthur B. Woods. A remake of the German movie "Spione am Werk" (1933).
Story in short: "Greta Nissen stars as an Italian noblewoman living a dangerous double life as a spy. A remake of the celebrated German thriller Spione am Werk. Co-starring noted German actor Karl Ludwig Diehl and American matinee idol Don Alvarado. The film takes place in Vienna, 1912. When an Austrian staff officer is implicated by association with a known Italian spy he goes on the run. Three years later - as the Great War gets into full swing - he returns and begs the Austrian Secret Service to allow him to clear his name from suspicion".
Its a darkly told story, very little humor to soften up the heavy story. The movie moves a bit slowly. Wooden and seriously acted by many famous accomplished actors of its time. The glamorous Greta Nissen, normally not playing such heavy roles, should have been allowed to be a more playfull and bright character. She does parade off an amazing amount of beautiful gowns. But there are little sparks in the love scenes that could have lifted up the energy. The movie does have some moody scenes and great set designs. It is very interesting to see a British movie so dark, especially from this era, right after the pre-code, and when many other movie studioes focused on more bright and fun movies, with exceptions ofcourse. This movie does not have the feel of being an audience pleaser. There is not enough tension to make it a good thriller. Summed up "On secret service" is an very interesting watch. Fascinating to see a movie made during the 1930's that seems a bit lost and old fashion, in an era where movies were developing quikly towards a more modern look. The director chose a more heavy and dark approach in his effort to make this movie. It works against it, unfortunatly. But enjoy the movie, see some great actors, good combat scenes in the air, made in an era with plenty of tension going on in the European community.