I See a Dark Stranger

I See a Dark Stranger released as The Adventuress in the United States is a 1946 British World War II spy film with touches of light comedy, by the team of Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, and starring Deborah Kerr and Trevor Howard.

I See a Dark Stranger
theatrical poster (US)
Directed byFrank Launder
Produced bySidney Gilliat
Frank Launder
Written bySidney Gilliat
Frank Launder
(story & screenplay)
Wolfgang Wilhelm
Liam Redmond
(add'l dialogue)
StarringDeborah Kerr
Trevor Howard
Music byWilliam Alwyn
CinematographyWilkie Cooper
Edited byThelma Connell
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors (UK)
Eagle-Lion Films (US)
Release date
4 July 1946 (UK)
3 April 1947 (US)
Running time
112 minutes (UK)
98 minutes (US)
CountryUnited Kingdom


In May 1944, during World War II, when a nationalistic young Irish woman, Bridie Quilty (Deborah Kerr), turns 21, she sets out to fulfill a lifelong dream engendered by listening to her late father's stories of the Irish Revolution. She leaves her small rural village and goes to Dublin. On the way, she shares a train compartment with J. Miller (Raymond Huntley), but believing him to be English, she is very brusque with him. Once in the city, she seeks out a famous ex-radical her father had supposedly fought alongside, Michael O'Callaghan (Brefni O'Rorke), and asks him to help her join the Irish Republican Army. However, he has mellowed as the situation in Ireland has improved and tries unsuccessfully to dissuade her from her overly romantic notion.

Miller turns out to be a secret agent assigned to break Nazi spy Oscar Pryce (David Ward) out of a British prison in Devon. When, by sheer chance, he runs into Bridie again, he recruits her for his task. She gets a job at The George, a hotel and bar in nearby Wynbridge Vale, and becomes acquainted with a sergeant, who unwittingly provides her with information about the prisoner's impending transfer to London.

This is the opportunity that Miller has been waiting for. However, he is disturbed by the arrival of Lieutenant David Baynes (Trevor Howard), a British officer on leave. Since there is little to attract anyone to the town, he suspects the newcomer of being a counter-intelligence agent. He orders Bridie to distract Baynes on the day of the transfer by persuading him to take her for a day out in the countryside. It turns out Baynes is merely there to gather material for his thesis on Oliver Cromwell, whom Bridie loathes intensely for his conquest of Ireland.

Miller succeeds in freeing Pryce, but both are shot fleeing from a roadblock. Pryce tells Miller where he hid a notebook, then remains behind to delay their pursuers. Miller manages to make his way to Bridie and gives her the location to pass along. Unwilling to risk seeing a doctor, he tells her to dispose of his body after he is dead. Bridie does so, and afterward boards a train as instructed, but her contact, an elderly woman, (Katie Johnson), is arrested before any exchange can take place. Not knowing what else to do, Bridie decides to return home.

However, she encounters David, who followed her aboard the train, and changes her mind, going to the Isle of Man instead to retrieve the book. She is trailed by David and a German spy (Norman Shelley). Bridie figures out that the cryptic information gives the location of the imminent D-Day invasion, which could result in the death of thousands of soldiers, including Irishmen, so she burns the book. David saves her from being arrested as Miller's confederate, and after telling Bridie that he loves her, she tells him what she has done. Bridie tries to turn herself in to save David the pain of having to report her, but the Germans abduct her. When David tracks them to a boat, he is caught as well.

When she refuses to tell what she knows, the couple are taken to Ireland. They join a funeral procession to evade police searching for them. But the mourners are actually smugglers trying to enter Northern Ireland with a load of contraband. When an alarm clock hidden in the coffin goes off at the border crossing, the ensuing confusion enables the prisoners to escape. David phones for the police from a pub, mistakenly believing that they are still in Ireland, where Bridie would merely be interned. When he realises that they are actually in Northern Ireland, and that Bridie is in danger of being shot as a spy, he tries to persuade her to flee across the nearby border, but she obstinately insists on staying with him. Then, they hear on the radio that D-Day has begun. Her information now useless, she escapes. David discovers the spies in a room upstairs and a bathtub-flooding fight breaks out. The police arrest all.

After the war, Bridie and David wed, but their marriage gets off to a rocky start when David stops at the Cromwell Arms for their honeymoon night.


Cast notes:


Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, who were the writers for Alfred Hitchcock's 1938 film The Lady Vanishes, formed Individual Pictures in 1945, with the intention of taking turns as director on the films they produced. I See a Dark Stranger was the first of ten films released by the company.[1]

I See a Dark Stranger was filmed at various locations, including Dublin, Dundalk and around Wexford in Ireland, Devon in England and the Isle of Man.[1][2]

During production, the rumor among crew members was that a close relationship had developed between the "handsome, young" cinematographer Wilkie Cooper and Deborah Kerr. If there was an affair, however, it was short-lived, as Kerr married Spitfire pilot Tony Bartley almost immediately after the film was in the can.[3]


The film was released in the United States under the title The Adventuress, to good reviews but modest box office. Bosley Crowther, the critic for the New York Times said that the film was "keenly sensitive and shrewd."[1]

Awards and honours

Deborah Kerr won a 1947 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress for her performances in Black Narcissus and I See a Dark Stranger.[4][5]


  • Vermilye, Jerry. The Great British Films. 1978, Citadel Press, ISBN 0-8065-0661-X pp 94–96
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