SECRET AGENT
1936, BFI, 86 min, UK, Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

Based on stories by W. Somerset Maugham, this espionage tale stars John Gielgud as Richard Ashenden, a British officer dispatched to Switzerland to kill a German spy. Sent to assist him on the mission are seasoned assassin (and scene-stealer) Peter Lorre and Madeleine Carroll, who is posing as Ashenden’s wife – which does little to stop suave Robert Young from chasing her. With several years of sound filmmaking under his belt, Hitchcock makes brilliant use of such audio effects as a sustained organ note and a dog’s howl.


BECKET
1964, Paramount, 148 min, UK/USA, Dir: Peter Glenville

Peter O’Toole’s first turn as Henry II sees the king immersed in a complicated friendship with the Archbishop of Canterbury (Richard Burton). This exquisitely mounted historical drama earned a dozen Oscar nominations, including a win for Edward Anhalt’s adapted screenplay. With John Gielgud.


THE LOVED ONE
1965, Warner Bros., 121 min, USA, Dir: Tony Richardson

Marketed as "the motion picture with something to offend everyone!" this achingly funny, pitch-black comedy could only have been released in the anything-goes era of the 1960s. Judged unfilmable for more than a decade (Luis Buñuel was trying to set it up for years), writer Evelyn Waugh’s spot-on satire of Southern California - specifically the funeral business – finally was brought to the screen in the mid-’60s by director Tony Richardson (TOM JONES) with a screenplay by Terry Southern (CANDY, EASY RIDER) and Christopher Isherwood (!). Robert Morse, a British youth visiting his uncle (John Gielgud) in Los Angeles, encounters the weird world of Tinseltown’s mortuary subculture, embodied by twins Henry and Reverend Wilbur Glenworthy (Jonathan Winters in a dual role), embalmer Mr. Joyboy (Rod Steiger) and his beautiful apprentice, Aimee Thanatogenous (Anjanette Comer). With Liberace, Paul Williams, Dana Andrews.


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