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The Secret Game (1917)

During the Great War, German and Japanese spies face off in the United States.


Marion Fairfax (scenario), Marion Fairfax (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview:
Sessue Hayakawa ... Nara-Nara
Jack Holt ... Maj. John Northfield
Florence Vidor ... Kitty Little
Mayme Kelso ... Miss Loring
Raymond Hatton ... Mr. Harris
Charles Ogle ... Dr. Ebell Smith


Dr. Ebell Smith, whose real name is Schmidt, is a German secret agent working on the west coast of the USA. One of his associates is Kitty Little, a young woman who idealizes both Germany and her brother, who is in the Kaiser's army. They have been obtaining American military secrets through their contact with Major Northfield, who is in charge of a quartermaster depot. Nara-Nara, a young man serving in the secret service of Japan, which is allied with the USA, knows that there is a security leak in Northfield's office. An important troop transport order is soon to come through, and Smith abducts Northfield's secretary so that Kitty can take her place. Meanwhile, Nara-Nara sets up an office as an importer next to Northfield's office, in hopes of learning how the Germans are obtaining their information. Written by Snow Leopard

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Release Date:

3 December 1917 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Spionen See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Featured in The Slanted Screen (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

Weak Ending Hurts Film
15 September 2010 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Secret Game, The (1917)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Entertaining WW1 propaganda about a Japanese secret service agent (Sessue Hayakawa) who is trying to track down a German (Charles Ogle) who is pretending to be an American and sending back info to his home country. The agent soon finds a young woman (Florence Vidor) who is unknowingly friends with the spy and needs her to help bring him down. This film runs a very quick 67-minutes and I think you'll enjoy the film a lot more if your DVD player shuts down after one hour. The reason I say this is that we've got a fairly good spy flick when out of no where it turns into some over-the-top melodrama that includes a few twists in the story that are downright silly, stupid and rather insulting if you really think about it. Even for 1917 I'm not sure why the screenwriters felt they needed to throw these twists in at the end but they don't work and they really hurt what the film had going for it. I think some more flaws include how stupid the majority of the Americans are in this film even when it's obvious what the bad guys are doing. I'm guessing you could argue this was DeMille's way of telling people to keep their eyes open and not disregard the obvious but the film doesn't play it like this. I think the best thing the film has going for it is the very impressive cast with Hayakawa leading the way. During this period he was without question one of the most popular stars out there thanks in large part to films like Cecil B. DeMille's THE CHEAT but once again he turns in a very strong performance even if his character is the main one effected by the ending. Vidor also does a nice job as the American girl not knowing how much danger she's in and we have Jack Holt adding some fun as another agent. Raymond Hatton has a brief role and Ogle, best remembered today for his 1910 FRANKENSTEIN, is effective as well. The "other" DeMille does a pretty good job with his direction but the screenplay really messes things up for everyone. The brother Cecil served as "Director General" but it's a shame he didn't do something with the ending.

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