The Spy in Black-Classic espionage movie

Is a touch of classic Spy Noir down your strasse? I recently spent 80 minutes in the company of The Spy in Black, a charming 1939 flick starring Conrad Veidt. In B&W of course but beautifully shot with with a small main cast. It’s set in my #ShamstoneSpyNovel era of March, 1917: Imperial Germany has resumed unrestricted submarine warfare to tip the balance of war and Kapitan Hardt (Conrad Veidt) is the intrepid U-Boat Commander despatched to the Scottish coast.

DVD cover

He is ordered to acquire critical intelligence from a treacherous Commander Ashington (Sebastian Shaw), an aggrieved man following a charge due to drunkenness. The traitor is expected to provide the location of the British fleet so a decisive wolf pack attack can take place.

Hardt, once on Scottish soil, finds himself under the command of a female agent, Fräulein Tiel (Valerie Hobson) in the guise of a local school mistress. Rejecting Hardt’s advances, Tiel implies she has already sacrificed her virtues in order to turn Ashington. But as is to be expected, no-one is who or what they seem…

Original movie poster

There are rutting-stag exchanges as former the enemy officers compete for Tiel’s affections, with Ashington conceding, ‘Ok old chap we both won last time!’ But amid the cut-glass dialogue and jousting egos there are moments of light relief, such as the ongoing schtick related to butter (no Last Tango antics), Hardt’s German uniform, an Irish Royal Marine’s musings (pre commando) and a Scottish ship’s engineer, whose despairing lines would one day be repeated Where No Man Had Gone Before.

That director Alex Korda would later go on to make the Graham Greene penned classic , The Third Man, is no surprise, but The Spy in Black was actually conceived by Roland Pertwee. Three weeks after the film’s release in 1939, WW2 would break out, in which his son, Jon, would end up a naval officer himself, crossing paths with a certain Mr Fleming.

Released in the U.S. as U-Boat 29

A word about the film’s star, Conrad Veidt. Here he’s an anti-hero and was often cast as a villain but his own story is as heroic as any cinematic portrayal. He was an established star of silent films in Germany in the ‘20s and his fame and appeal successfully crossed the Atlantic to Hollywood. He made a personal and moral stand against the rising Nazi regime and escaped to Britain with his Jewish wife just in time. On his return to America, Veidt donated much of his fortune to Britain’s war effort, which included funds set aside to treat underprivileged children in the East End bomb shelters. He died in 1943 from heart failure.




Art by Curio #ShamstoneSpyNovel

…Desperate to prevent brutal revenge exacted on his loved ones, Finn makes a bargain for protection with the Secret Service Bureau and becomes a Great War spy.

Code-named SHAMSTONE and fully armed with charm and mimicry, the new secret agent is sent to Ireland, New York, and Mexico to infiltrate the rising threat of Imperial Germany…

She’s here! The Glimmer Girl

On Halloween 31/10/20, The Glimmer Girl crossed the threshold, claiming its place amongst the vast pantheon of spy-fiction . Published initially via Kindle

and now part of the outside world and everything in it. The words on the page, just like any other novel, are free to paint pictures in the mind of the reader.

In the Glimmer Girl’s case taking you to the earliest days of WW1 with Commander Smith-Cumming, the first chief (C) of the Secret Intelligence Service. To the early 1920s in London and Ireland as following an ominous order, C assembles Operation BARBELL as a means of atonement and revenge.

You’ll find yourself in the midst of a mid 70s deniable mission in the arid mountains of Libya, and to a London of the near future where you’ll meet GLIMMER herself, Siobhan Uhuru-Behan, as she undertakes her first MI6 mission with a reactivated Operation BARBELL, as she tracks the Eighth Day cult.

GLIMMER’s pursuit will take you from the Crystal light and waves of Cote d’Azure to the wilds of Iceland.

Can the long-mothballed BARBELL project a century in the planning really meet the threats of tomorrow?

GLIMMER has eight days to prove it.