British Intelligence (1940) is a tale of World War I France, Germany, & mostly England. There are spies, double-spies, & triple-spies in a secret agent tale of double-spy Helene von Lorbeer (Margaret Lindsay) sent by the Germans undercover to London to assist a shadowy superspy.
This super-spy is a mole in British Intelligence. She worms her way into the family home of a government official, & soon discovers that the scar-faced French butler Valdar (Boris Karloff) is part of the spy ring.
There's a love story woven into the tale but the leading man (Bruce Lester) is only in the beginning & end of the tale, so the focus of the majority of the film is on more serious stuff. The bombing of London from gigantic dirigibles is a beautifully filmed sequence, as is the flying ace biplane battle over France.
The plot is convoluted & not entirely convincing, but serviceable & well played.
The patriotic tone renders it to great extent a propoganda film not for WWI, but for WWII with the same enemy, including a coda wherein the characters from 1917 "predict" the possible "future" rise of a madman whom England will again be just as bold at facing down.
The stage play from which the film was derived dates to 1918 however, & not-so-veiled allusions to the rise of nazism are 1940's interpolations.
For Karloff fans this is a worthwhile film for his fairly elaborate performance & no shortage of screen time. As a spy film generally it is moderately successful. That the film was made & released while England was suffering blitzes lends it an authentic stiff-upper-lip realism.
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