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Secret People [DVD]

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Audrey Hepburn, Serge Reggiani, Valentina Cortesa
  • Directors: Thorold Dickinson
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Studiocanal
  • DVD Release Date: 18 Jan. 2010
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002V8FSBK
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,577 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Suspense drama starring Valentina Cortese and a young Audrey Hepburn. In 1930, Maria Brentano (Cortese) and her younger sister Nora (Hepburn) flee to London as refugees after their political activist father is murdered by a European dictator. Several years later, while on a weekend trip to Paris, they unexpectedly run into Maria's former lover Louis (Serge Reggiani), who is now plotting the assassination of the dictator. Maria and Nora subsequently become involved in his plan, with tragic consequences.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
A refugee (Valentina Cortese) from an unnamed totalitarian country and her younger sister (Angela Fouldes as a child, Audrey Hepburn as an adult) arrive in England. They have been sent by their father (who is later murdered by the fascist regime) to live with their uncle (Charles Goldner). Much later, Cortese's old lover (Serge Reggiani) arrives in Britain and pressures her to assist in the political assassination of the dictator on his visit to England. She agrees but something goes horribly wrong and the repercussions are far reaching. Directed by Thorold Dickinson (QUEEN OF SPADES), the film is a engrossing and thought felt treatise on violence vs. political idealism. Are the innocent expendable if it brings down an evil personage? Or is violence wrong no matter who it is directed against? Dickinson (who co-wrote the screenplay) is smart enough to understand he is making a movie and not just a political tract (not unlike Costa-Gavras) and he keeps the suspense element strong. Cortese is the film's core performance is very good, Reggiani shows his hand before he should and while sweet, the young Audrey Hepburn gives no indication here of the icon she would later become. With Irene Worth, Megs Jenkins, Athene Seyler and Reginald Tate.

The Optimum DVD from Great Britian is a nicely rendered B&W transfer in the appropriate 1.33 aspect ratio.
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J. Bryce's review suggests that the Secret People DVD is marred by Chinese subtitles that cannot be removed. I suspect that this is a reference to a version other than that the Optimum DVD on offer here. I have purchased the Optimum disc and it's fine. Buy with confidence.
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This is a stunning film, beautifully directed and acted. While it is a 'message' movie and serious and intense, the director does not make it a tedious experience. Rather, by drawing the viewer into the characters' lives, he makes it an absorbing emotional journey which drives the message home powerfully.

The message deals with the morality of the use of violence to achieve what are judged to be good ends. I will not describe the plot as another reviewer has done so very well but the storyline, as scripted by Director Thorold Dickinson, is an engaging, dramatic way of getting the message across.

Lead actress Valentina Cortese dominates her scenes, so powerful is the passion and warmth she brings to her character. Serge Reggiani is very satisfactory in his role, while Irene Worth is a striking presence in her scenes in the last third of the film. Charles Goldner is endearing as the affectionate and steadfast uncle. Another pleasure is the substantial role for 22 year old Audrey Hepburn a year before she found stardom in 'Roman Holiday'.

Dickinson's artistry is apparent in the scenes in the cramped space of the cafe. The actors' movements are precisely choreographed. Their hands are busy with the everyday tasks of making and serving food and yet their words and faces are telling an involving emotional story. All the while the camera and the pacing of the dialogue ensure the viewer's eye focuses on what's important.

Watching this film has been a memorable experience. I thank the wonderful Kathy Wilson for recommending it to me.

Note: The Optimum DVD I bought from Amazon has no subtitles, so none of the problems identified by other reviewers and is of good sound and vision quality. It also features a brief analysis of the film by Philip Horne which is worth viewing.
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