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The Secret Adversary (1983)

After two old friends accidentally meet and resolve to become investigators for hire, they quickly become embroiled in a missing treaty and a Bolshevik conspiracy.


Tony Wharmby


Agatha Christie (novel), Pat Sandys (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
James Warwick ... Tommy Beresford
Francesca Annis ... Tuppence Cowley
Gavan O'Herlihy ... Julius P. Hersheimmer
Alec McCowen ... Sir James Peele Edgerton
Honor Blackman ... Rita Vandemeyer
Peter Barkworth ... Mr. Carter
Toria Fuller ... Jane Finn / Annette
John Fraser ... Kramenin
George Baker ... Whittington
Donald Houston ... Boris
Joseph Brady ... Dr. Hall
Wolf Kahler ... The German
Reece Dinsdale ... Albert
Peter Lovstrom ... Henry
Matthew Scurfield ... Conrad


Childhood friends Tommy and Tuppence (Prudence) meet in London after having served in World War I. Recently "demobed", short of money, and with no job prospects, they decide to become adventurers for hire. Soon, they are employed by the British Government to locate a secret treaty signed before the war. Bolsheviks, kidnappings, missing persons, and a marriage proposal for Tuppence, keep things moving for The Young Adventurers, Ltd. Written by Mike Smith <mismith@brody.med.ecu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

9 October 1983 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Тайный противник See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film is very accurate in comparison to the book. See more »


In the final dinner scene, a fly lands on Julius Hersheimmer's hand. See more »


[first lines]
Tommy Beresford: Tuppence?
Tuppence Cowley: Tommy! You! Of all people, you.
[They embrace. Tuppence shows Tommy the bread crumbs in her hand]
Tuppence Cowley: Ducks.
Tommy Beresford: Of course.
Tuppence Cowley: Oh, dear old bean.
See more »


Version of Adventures Inc. (1929) See more »

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User Reviews

good adaptation of the book, although the book had its problems
26 August 2017 | by skiddooSee all my reviews

This might be the only one of the Annis and Warwick versions to show them kissing. British reserve and all that. :) I very much enjoy watching these wonderful period pieces. This has some dramatic "I don't know which character to trust" moments but I think it had too many similar escape scenes. For baddies, they were very loath to kill people. :) What this story needed was fewer instances of holding people captive or more expendable characters. :)

Agatha Christie apparently believed the conspiracy theory that was swirling about in those days that a general strike couldn't be an industrial action but instead had to be a sign of the end of the world as they knew it. There was one in 1926 in solidarity with the miners over their wages being reduced and hours lengthened, and no anarchy, no revolution ensued. In fact, the result was so poor for the miners that the unions decided political action was the way to go in the future rather than general strikes.

Brits were as terrified by the demise of Cousin Nicky and his family in 1917 as they had been during the French Revolution with the loss of the French royals. Brits of a certain class were afraid of foreigners, afraid of the great unwashed masses, afraid of traitors within their own ranks. The economy was still struggling in the Twenties, many people felt the Great War had been horribly botched, and the Liberal party ended its disastrous run in Oct. 1922 around the time Christie's book came out and the year the USSR was formed, never to return to power up to the present day. It didn't take a seer to know that starvation wages and the threat of even worse would bring on a strike. You can only push people so far. Eight years after the war when they had sacrificed so much, they expected better. Well, that's understandable.

The problem with Christie's timetable is that her book was much more 1922 than 1918. Right after the war people in Britain didn't have the heart for a mass uprising, let alone another war. They wanted some peace and quiet, and time to heal. People just wanted their lives back, damaged though they were. They were still okay with sacrifice and restrictions and the difficulty with finding a job, because that was to be expected. The story simply didn't fit the way people were thinking.

And what was that draft treaty? Did Christie even have something in mind? It's fun to think what could possibly have been so very embarrassing that it would cause the masses to rise from their beds of pain in 1918 and carry out a coup, but honestly, Christie, that's lazy writing. So...if the US comes in on the side of Britain in its darkest hour against Germany, the US gets...the first born son of every Brit? Canada? The Prince of Wales as the president's chauffeur? What is sufficiently embarrassing to cause the demise of the nation and WWII? I'm not an expert on British politics but wouldn't the party in trouble just face a no confidence vote and/or an election?

So I am taking away two points for the over-abundance of rescues and the premise behind the plot. But I still like Tommy and Tuppence. :)

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