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Audrey Hepburn




Also known as "Secret People"

Ealing Studios, 1952.  Directed by Thorold Dickinson.  Camera:  Gordon Dines.  With Valentina Cortese, Serge Reggiani, Charles Goldner, Audrey Hepburn, Angela Fouldes, Megs Jenkins, Irene Worth, Reginald Tate, Norman Williams, Michael Shepley.

In 1930, Maria Brentano and her younger sister Nora flee to London after their father is murdered by a European dictator.  Seven years later, during a weekend trip to Paris, Maria unexpectedly meets Louis, her former lover, who is now plotting the assassination of the dictator.  Maria and Nora become involved in the plan, which goes tragically wrong when the time bomb they plant kills an innocent bystander.

This is a seriously underrated work of classical British film art on a compelling subject and is as relevant to London life today as it ever was.  Considering this film was released in 1952, it explores so perceptively the path from praiseworthy ideology, through working for a noble cause, into terrifying involvement in an act of pure terrorism.

You are steadily—but inexorably—drawn with a lure of truth and justice, into a slowly evolving web of intrigue, conspiracy and ultimately murder, and it leaves you wondering at which point do you actually stray from idealism and decency into cold depravity?  Given the '50s context, centered on an urban minority family, the actual plot is still frighteningly relevant and this film is surely just waiting for a remake to bring it chillingly up to date.  Until then, if you can find a copy of this film, watch it—it's a vital and absorbing education, in the grand old style, on the strong subject of ideology.

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