Douglas Fairbanks made his name in silent cinema for a number of swashbuckling roles, including Robin Hood, The Mark of Zorro and The Thief of Baghdad. His son, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., was in many ways a chip off the old block. However, whilst being cast in several action roles, including The Fighting O’Flynn, much of his success was due to his winning charisma and impressive acting ability. He combines this energy with a winning charm in the 1950 film State Secret.
John Marlowe (Fairbanks Jr.) is a famous American surgeon who is pioneering techniques within his field. When he’s invited to the authoritarian Eastern European state of Vosnia to receive an award, he’s naturally honoured. However, during a demonstration he’s tricked into operating on the nation’s dictatorial leader. When he dies, John knows he needs to flee for his life. Enlisting the help of the friendly English-speaking Lisa Robinson (Glynis Johns).
State Secret works both as a political/espionage drama and a breakneck thriller spanning a number of locations. It starts off slowly but it’s not long until Dr. Marlowe finds himself on the run. Sidney Gilliat’s film is tense throughout, with danger only one false-step away. This is punctuated by small breathers, which allows the chemistry between the two leads come to the fore. State Secret is an entertaining yarn.
- US Version reel 1
- Secret Publicity – an interview with Forbes Taylor
- Image gallery
- Those British Faces: Jack Hawkins
State Secret is released on DVD and Blu-ray by Network on 22 February.