"Confidential Agent" is a 1945 black and white spy thriller based on the 1939 Graham Greene novel of the same day. In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, a former concert musician with Republican (i.e., anti-Fascist) sympathies journeys to London to buy Coal in order to keep it out of the hands of the Fascists, but at every turn he faces enemies, betrayal, arrest, and murder.
Charles Boyer plays the musician and Lauren Bacall is the daughter of a Coal producer who befriends Boyer. Peter Lorre and Katrina Paxinou play Republican contacts who may be more interested in their own welfare than the revolution, and along for the ride are Victor Francen, Wanda Hendrix, John Warburton, and George Zucco.
Charles Boyer (1899-1978) was everyone's favorite Frenchman. He was nominated for an Oscar 4 times, beginning in 1937 ("Conquest") and ending in 1961 ("Fanny"). His most famous film is "Gaslight" (1944) although I think he did his best work in "Algiers" (1938).
Lauren Bacall (1924) made her sizzling film debut in "To Have and Have Not" (1944) and went on to co-star with Bogart in "The Big Sleep" (1946) and "Dark Passage" (1947). She was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA for "The Mirror has Two Faces" (1996) and won the Golden Globe and SAG for that film. She had 3 Emmy nominations. I think she did her best acting in "The Shootist" (1976) for which she received a BAFTA nomination.
Peter Lorre (1904-64) Lorre gained prominence as the child molester in Fritz Lang's "M" (1931) and went on to fame as "Mr. Moto" in a series of 8 detective films between 1937 and 1939, although today he is probably best known for his 9 films with Sydney Greenstreet, including "The Maltese Falcon" (1941) and "Casablanca" (1942).
Katrina Paxinou (1900-1973) won the Oscar and the Golden Globe for her role in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (1943), her film debut. She made only a dozen films, including "Mourning Becomes Electra" (1947) and Welles' "Mr. Arkadin" (1955).
Pretty Wanda Hendix (1928-81) makes her film debut as a young girl who works in Paxinou's hotel.
The film is photographed in moody black and white by the legendary James Wong Howe, one of Hollywood's best cameramen. Howe was nominated for an Oscar 10 times with 2 wins ("Hud" and "The Rose Tatoo"), making him one of the most acknowledged cinematographers in film history.
1945 was not a banner year for films. The top grossing films were "Mom and Dad", "The Bells of St. Mary's", "Leave Her to Heaven", "Spellbound", and "Anchors Aweigh." The big Oscar and Golden Globe winner was "The Lost Weekend" (Picture, Director, Actor). Notable films released that year included: Joan Crawford's Oscar winning "Mildred Pierce" and film noir classic "Scarlett Street".
War films were reasonably popular - John Wayne in "Back to Bataan" and "They Were Expendable", Errol Flynn in "Objective Burma", John Garfield in "Pride of the Marines", Burgess Meredith and Robert Mitchum in "The Story of GI Joe", and "A Walk in the Sun".
The film was not well received. Part of the problem is the lack of chemistry between Boyer and Bacall. Another problem is the casting, which has Brooklyn born Bacall playing the daughter of an English Lord, Spanish citizens being played by a Frenchman (Boyer), a Hungarian (Lorre), a Greek (Paxinou), and the English played by a Dutchman (Francen) and a Yank (Hendrix). Another problem is a rambling script with characters that act irrationally and circumstances that are far beyond chance.
If you're interested in films about the Spanish Civil War, I recommend "The Spanish Earth" (1937), "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (1943), "There be Dragons" (2011), or "The Disappearance on Garcia Lorca" (1997). One could also watch "Pan's Labyrinth" (2006).
Bottom line - The photography is wonderful, but the script is poor and the acting leaves a lot to be desired.