Robert Young appeared in the 1936 British espionage thriller film "Secret Agent", which was directed by Alfred Hitchcock, before he began his U.S. TV career on "Father Knows Best". The film was adapted from a play by Campbell Dixon, which in turn was loosely based on two stories by W. Somerset Maugham in the 1927 "Ashenden: Or the British Agent" collection. Besides Young, this film stars Madeleine Carroll, Peter Lorre, and John Gielgud. It also features uncredited appearances by Michael Redgrave, future star of Hitchcock's "The Lady Vanishes" (1938) and Michael Rennie in his film debut.

"Secret Agent" was produced by Michael Balcon and Ivor Montagu. Cinematography was handled by Bernard Knowles, and Charles Frend edited the film. The musical score was provided by John Greenwood, and it was directed by Louis Levy. British International Pictures released the film in June 1936 in the United Kingdom. Overall the film's reception was very good; it was called "good spy entertainment".

The popular October 1954 – May 1960 U.S. TV show "Father Knows Best", an American sitcom starring Robert Young, Jane Wyatt, Elinor Donahue, Billy Gray and Lauren Chapin, was created and shown several decades after the film "Secret Agent". The hit sitcom focused on a wise family man, Jim Anderson (Young), his common-sense wife Margaret, and their children Betty, Bud and Kathy.

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