State Secret (1950 film)

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State Secret
"State Secret" (1950).jpg
Directed by Sidney Gilliat
Produced by Sidney Gilliat
Frank Launder
Written by Sidney Gilliat
Based on novel by Roy Huggins
Starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Glynis Johns
Jack Hawkins
Music by William Alwyn
Cinematography Robert Krasker
Release dates
11 September 1950 (UK)
Running time
104 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office £187,022 (UK)[1]

State Secret is a 1950 British drama film directed by Sidney Gilliat and starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Jack Hawkins, Glynis Johns, Olga Lowe[2] [3] and Herbert Lom. It was released in the United States under the title The Great Manhunt.[4]


John Marlowe (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) is an American surgeon. He is visiting England when he is decoyed to the mythical European country of Vosnia. He finds that he is to operate on the Vosnian dictator. The dictator dies but is replaced by a look-alike. As one of the few who know, Marlowe is hunted by the country's secret police.

He flees and seeks the help of Lisa Robinson (Glynis Johns). They are pursued across the country and are on the point of escaping when Lisa is shot. Marlowe could escape but stays.

The head of the secret police, Colonel Galcon (Jack Hawkins) arranges a 'shooting accident' for Marlowe but, as Marlowe walks outside to his fate, the false dictator is heard making a live speech on the radio. Shots are heard and Marlowe goes back inside the building. Galcon confirms by telephone that the stand-in has been assassinated.

Marlowe and Galcon discuss the situation and Galcon realises that it may be over for him. As the people have see the 'dictator' die, it is no longer necessary to have a cover-up. Marlowe and Robinson are released and fly to freedom.


Critical reception[edit]

In The New York Times, Bosley Crowther wrote, "this picture is just about as lively as they come, and under Mr. Gilliat's direction, it moves like an auto gaining speed...Beautifully photographed in Italian cities and in the Italian Dolomites, the whole adventure has the eminent advantage of a sparkling Continental atmosphere. And it also has the advantage of good performance by all concerned—by Mr. Fairbanks as the kidnapped surgeon, looking a little like Eugene O'Neill; by Miss Johns, very saucy and explosive, as the music-hall girl; by Jack Hawkins as the Vosnian premier, with an Oxford accent and a Nazi attitude; by Herbert Lom as the Balkan shyster and any number of others in small roles." [5]


  1. ^ Vincent Porter, 'The Robert Clark Account', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, Vol 20 No 4, 2000 p492
  2. ^ "State Secret". BFI. 
  3. ^ British Film Industry. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  4. ^ "The Great Manhunt". TV Guide. 
  5. ^ "Movie Review - The Great Manhunt - THE SCREEN IN REVIEW; 'State Secret,' Thrilling 'Chase' Film With Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Bows at Victoria -". 

External links[edit]