Movie Name: Saboteur
Studio: Frank Lloyd Production, Inc.
Release Date(s): April 22, 1942
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Barry Kane (Robert Cummings) finds himself framed for a fire at the plane factory where he works and now on the run as a saboteur. While trying to find a man named Fry (Norman Lloyd) who could be the key to clearing Barry, Barry discovers a massive plot to attack the United States. Barry finds himself teamed with a reluctant Pat Martin (Priscilla Lane) who questions if Barry really is a traitor, but the United States is counting on Barry…if he is arrested first.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Saboteur is a spy-thriller. Following Hitchcock’s Suspicion in 1941, Saboteur is a World War II picture. It was released to mostly positive reviews.
Hitchcock made a lot of movies. For the most part, Hitchcock makes good movies. Even if Hitchcock makes a “bad” movie, Hitchcock usually manages to make it entertaining. Saboteur might be an average movie in the Hitchcock canon, but it is still an entertaining movie.
The movie feels really based in the time when it was made. Being “anti-American” was the biggest sin…even an accusation. To actually be labeled a saboteur is even worse, and the horror of an innocent man being blamed is something that the audience would really identify. It becomes a story of “if you see something, say something”. Like a lot of Hitchcock movies, Hitchcock almost seems to get bored of his own movie at the end. The resolution is pretty abrupt and takes you out of the movie a little.
The cast isn’t very dynamic. Unlike many of Hitchcock’s later movies, he doesn’t have much of an established casting well that he draws from. The actors are generally character actors and generally reflect this. Cummings did appear in Dial M for Murder as the secondary lead, but most of the actors involved in the film had Saboteur as their high point.
Hitchcock always excels at visuals. The movie’s best set pieces include a party sequence in which the “free” Cummings and Lane must try to escape spies among the partygoers. The final scene, however, is the most memorable seen of the movie with a big showdown on the Statue of Liberty. The movie did draw criticism for showing the wreck of the SS Normandie and an implication that it was sunk by saboteurs (a popular idea at the time though it was never proven).
Saboteur has its moments. The party scene is tense and the finale is good, but the movie never rises above many of Hitchcock’s classics (I do like the “hero” uses a toddler as a human shield at one point). Despite this, you can see a lot of Hitchcock touches within the film, and fans of the director should check it out. Hitchcock followed Saboteur with Shadow of a Doubt in 1943.