Master of the spy story, Eric Ambler, adds a light touch to the genre that made him famous. An entomologist thinks she’s a super secret agent from a radio show and is out to save humanity from germ warfare. This is very well done and doesn’t insult the audience with slapstick or any over the top comedy. It’s full of suspense but never loses its sense of fun.
Frances Gray (Margaret Lockwood) is asked by the British government to travel to a Balkan country and investigate experiments done on insects that could be used in a biological attack. She refuses and says she’s going on holiday.
A government official gets a lift into town from her. While he tries again to get her to take the assignment she turns on the radio. It’s a program about secret agent Frank Conway and his sidekick Rusty. She says she promised her nephew she’d listen to it and tell him what happened if he promised to do his homework.
It’s not long before she agrees to go. As a joke her fake passport is made about to Frances Conway. On the train to the country she shares a compartment with Chief of Police Razinski (Marius Goring). She’s called out of the compartment as a ruse so he can search her luggage. He finds a microscope. He doesn’t say anything.
She’s supposed to be met at the station but no one talks to her except an annoying porter trying to convince her to go to a certain hotel. She tells Razinski she’s okay and gives in to the porter. In her hotel room the porter admits he’s the one that was supposed to meet her. He’ll see her the next day at a cafe. His name is Alf.
The next day she waits for him and only sees Razinski. Then she’s approached by Bill Casey (Dane Clark). He’s an American reporter. She says her name is Conway but he tells her he recognizes her from a magazine article from a year ago and wants to know what she’s doing in the country. Her cover is that she’s exploring for a potential tourist trade. He doesn’t buy it for a second. While they talk Alf is murdered.
Bill takes her on a ride to the plant where she’s supposed to find the insects. He shows her all the security surrounding it to let her know she’ll never get in. Once again Razinski shows up to say hello. Bill makes a date to see her later that night and drops her at the hotel. In her room she discovers Alf’s body.
Razinski shows up and arrests her. As arranged Bill called and she manages to yell into the phone what’s happening. At the police station she’s put under the hot lights. Razinski wants to know who sent her and why she had a microscope. She passes out. When she comes to she given drugs. Before she passes out again she thinks she’s radio secret agent Conway.
She’s released thanks to Bill acting on her yelling into the phone. Bill shows up at the police station with Mr.Luke, the British Consul (Wilfred Hyde-White). Still convinced she’s a secret agent she enlists Bill in her plan to get some of the insects. He doesn’t have a clue about the radio show and why she keeps calling him Rusty.
There’s a lot of movie to come but to go further would spoil the fun. It has the feel of a radio serial but without the manic pace but with the suspense, close calls etc. If you want to have fun at the movies check this one out.