It’s a question with a very contemporary relevance… but when over the last century have their not been fascists to kill? When is the call to war unanswerable and when do the needs of the many suddenly outweigh those of the few? There can hardly have been anyone working on this film not affected personally by the losses of the war and, whilst the film sometimes feels a little restrained, it deals in a language that would have been more understandable at the time. After the devastation you don’t really need to shout.
The years pass and whilst Maria learns to cook in Anselmo’s Café, Nora grows up into Audrey Hepburn and she can dance!
Maria and Louis enjoy a blissful day catching up – and the subtle buttoning of her shirt top in his garret hint at their level of intimacy – but in the evening he is distracted away by people who are clearly members of a cell of freedom fighters: ruthless types who kill an untrustworthy contact in between Maria and Louis’s dancing at a night club.
|Louis' cell - Serge Reggiani second from left|
She is to carry a compact into the party and then pass it on to another member of the group who will place it under the General’s chair. It is to be a controlled explosion and no one else should be hurt. Maria is confused, and disorientated by the last minute shock and concern for Nora she agrees to the plot.
|Audrey takes flight|
Louis is working in conjunction with a shadowy – literally – group of home-grown revolutionaries who meet in darkened rooms to discuss and sign off any actions. He takes Maria to see them after the action to assure them that she’ll keep their secrets but neither party is sure as she gets called into Scotland Yard.
|Nora dances and then Maria looks on waiting for the bomb to go off...|
There are brooding shots aplenty of traffic-free grimed London streets around Soho I’d guess, as the Special Branch closes in and events come to a head… Can Maria escape the consequences of Louis’ actions and will even Nora be pulled into the vortex of his ever increasing desperation?
|Maria and Louis walk down Litchfield Street, past The Ivy towards Charing Cross Road|
Louis’ means do not justify his ends which have become increasingly fogged by the inaccuracy of his actions and the flawed thinking behind them. The process has become its own justification and the death of the waitress is just another small price to pay for their eventual and unlikely success.
The film doesn’t point to any other solution other than Marie’s father’s enduring plea for love and understanding. This isn’t soft or “dated”, these people had just fought a threat infinitely more vicious than any current threat to democracy and millions had died when there was genuinely no other way to go.
|Them heavy people|
Marie’s father’s words are heard again urging peace, understanding and dialogue as the only solution: the pen is always mightier than the sword.
|Audrey steps out|
The Secret People are everywhere but hard to find… you might try watching Amazon for it surely needs a re-release.