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British Intelligence (1940)

Approved | | Romance, Thriller, War | 29 January 1940 (USA)
Although the home of cabinet minister Arthur Bennett is a hotbed of spies, moles, and double agents, no one knows the true identity of notorious German spymaster Strendler.


Terry O. Morse (as Terry Morse)


Lee Katz (screen play), Anthony Paul Kelly (based on a play ['Two Faces East'] by)


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Complete credited cast:
Boris Karloff ... Valdar
Margaret Lindsay ... Helene von Lorbeer
Bruce Lester ... Frank Bennett
Leonard Mudie ... James Yeats
Holmes Herbert ... Arthur Bennett
Austin Fairman Austin Fairman ... George Bennett


During WWI pretty German master spy Helene von Lorbeer is sent undercover to London to live with the family of a high-placed British official where she is to rendezvous with the butler Valdar, also a spy, and help him transmit secret war plans back to Germany. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Romance | Thriller | War


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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English | French | German

Release Date:

29 January 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Secret Enemy See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The play opened in New York City, New York, USA on 13 August 1918 and had 335 performances. It was produced by George M. Cohan and the cast included Frank Sheridan and Cora Witherspoon. See more »


When in London in a taxi, Helene says to Henry Thompson "Wasn't there a son?" Thompson replies "Frank, I think his name is. He's in France in the Air Force." The Royal Air Force did not come into existence until 1st April 1918 and was at that time The Royal Flying Corps. See more »


[last lines]
Arthur Benneft: But, tell me, Yeats, these sacrifices we are all making - do you think they will eventually mean something to mankind?
Colonel James Yeats: I wish I were able to answer that question. We want to help humanity. We fight wars only because we crave peace so ardently and pray that each war will be the last. But always in the strange scheme of things some maniac with a lust for power arises and, in one moment, destroys the peace and tranquility we've created through the years. We hate war! We despise it, but...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The swelling of the end title music cuts off the end of Colonel Yates's final line. However, as he has just said "We will fight on" and is simply repeating "and on, and on, and on," it was likely not a mistake. See more »


Version of Three Faces East (1930) See more »

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User Reviews

We planed a surprise attack, Yet we were the one's that were surprised
11 December 2004 | by sol-kaySee all my reviews

***Spoilers*** 1940 movie made during the hight of the German Blitz on England in WWII about a German Zappaline air attack on London in 1917 during WWI with a complicated story about British and German spies and double as well as even triple agents in both England and Germany.

Boris Karloff is at his creepiest best as the German spy or British double agent Valdar, you never really know until the end of the movie who he really is. On the bloody Western Front in France every British military operation is met by the German Army with the British being soundly beaten. Someone is supplying the Germans with secret British military information which has them get the jump on the British forces before they even start their attack.

The British have their top spy Williams inside Germany and in an attempt to get him out of the country plan to pick him up behind the German lines with an airplane flown by Let. Frank Bennett, Bruce Lester. As usual the Germans get the information about Bennetts's flight and shoot him down over the battlefield. In the field hospital the badly wounder Bennett is cared for by a British volunteer nurse Helene, Margaret Lindsey, whom Bennett falls in love with. It later turns that Helene is really the German spy Helene Von Lorbeer who back in Berlin is sent to England to work for British Cabinate Minister Arthur Bennett, Holmes Herbert, who's also Frank's father.

The movie "British Intellengence" goes on with Helene getting in touch with her fellow German spies in England including Valdar who also works for the Bennett household. You never really know who Helene and Valdar work for, the British or the Germans or both, until almost the very end which leaves you up in the air to whats happening in the film. There's also this top German spy Strendler who is giving the British all this trouble on their efforts in breaking the up and stalling the German advance on the Western Front. You also don't know until the very end of the movie just who he really is even though it's not really that hard to figure out.

The movie takes a surprise turn later on when Let. Bennett who was recovered from his wounds and with his air unit sent back to England. Coming home Let. Bennett finds Helene at his father estate and recognizes her as the nurse who treated him back in France and who he fell in love with. It's then when we get an idea just who Helene is and for what country, Germany or England, she's spying for.

The ending is very contrived with the German Master Spy Strendler, guess who, setting up the entire British Cabinate to be blown up at the Bennett Estate, where their to meet, with a bomb that he planted there. Strendler is unexpectedly foiled by the Germans themselves by them staging a zeppelin attack on the city of London killing Strendler and his fellow German spies in the process: Poetic Justic I presume?

Whats so interesting about the movie is how it treats the Germans at a time when those who made the movie were either at war with Germany or very sympathetic to the country that was fighting the Germans at that time in 1940 the United Kingdom. There was one scene in the movie that really hit me when Valdar tells Helene about how the German Army murdered his wife and child and left him for dead with two bullets in his back which in fact was a lie on his part. Helene very convincingly defended the Germans by telling him that in the heat of war both the Germans like the British commit unspeakable acts in order to win.

This statement by Helen came across as both honest and eye opening, totally minus of wartime propaganda, for a war movie that was made during the time when the country or countries who made it, the US & UK, were either at war or about to go to war against the country of the person, Helene, who made that very profound and intelligent statement.

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