Directed by Frank Launder. UK. 1946.

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Known in the U.S. as The Adventuress, I See a Dark Stranger was the vehicle that first brought Deborah Kerr to the attention of Hollywood. Smartly written, produced and directed by the team of Launder and Gilliat, it is a suspense-filled and highly entertaining yarn about a high-strung Irish girl, Bridey Quilty (Deborah Kerr) who unwittingly becomes a German spy out of hatred for the British. Raised by a father who delighted in spinning tall tales about his role in the 1916 battle against the English, she leaves home at age 21 for Dublin, determined to join the Irish Republican Army and continue her father's work. 

Thinking he is part of the IRA, she falls in with a German spy named Miller (Raymond Huntley) and is used as a pawn to spring a Nazi from prison. Co-star Trevor Howard plays British Army Officer David Byrne, a British Intelligence Officer who doggedly pursues and falls in love with her in spite of her anti-English attitude, however she spends the entire film keeping him at arms length. Bridey gets deeper and deeper entangled, dumping a dead body over a cliff, forging identity papers, and dodging two overweight policemen on the Isle of Man. When she comes into possession of vital military secrets, however, it has become apparent that she is in over her head and both sides are out to get her. 

I See a Dark Stranger has suspense, romance, and humour all coming together in a story that becomes lighter and lighter as it moves along. For every deadly serious moment, there are two comic ones and Bridey's character comes close to being played for laughs. However, the combination of Kerr's youthful energy (she is 24 here) and a sophisticated and witty script keeps this from being taken too seriously as either a put-down of women spies or as an attack on the Irish. Great fun.

Howard Schumann
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