Friday, January 11, 2008

Tonight's Movie: Saboteur (1942)

Tonight I had the pleasure of watching Alfred Hitchcock's SABOTEUR for the very first time. This tale of a WWII aircraft factory worker on the run after being falsely accused of sabotage is terrific entertainment.

Robert Cummings plays Barry Kane, the man on the run who is looking (of course!) for the real saboteur. Cummings has exactly the right sort of "everyman" quality to be very believable as a factory worker. Lovely Priscilla Lane is a model who ends up aiding Barry, after initially wanting to turn him over to the police. I've seen Lane in a number of movies over the last year and really enjoy her.

There are a number of wonderful sequences -- a nerve-wracking party scene presages the famous party scene in NOTORIOUS a few years later -- climaxing with the final showdown at the Statue of Liberty. The film ends rather abruptly; it could have run longer than its 108 minutes to give us a bit more of a satisfying conclusion, but that's my only complaint.

The villain at the Statue of Liberty is played by Norman Lloyd, known to viewers of '80s TV as Dr. Auschlander on ST. ELSEWHERE. Otto Kruger and Ian Wolfe are among the other villains.

Priscilla Lane made 22 movies in 11 years before leaving Hollywood behind. She had married an Air Force Colonel during the war and raised four children. She is buried beside her husband at Arlington National Cemetery. (2014 Update: Visit the Priscilla Lane Fan Club on Facebook.)

Papers related to Priscilla and her performing sisters are archived at Simpson College.

SABOTEUR is available on DVD as a single-title release or as part of the Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection. The DVD includes a 35-minute documentary about the making of the film, with actor Norman Lloyd describing the filming of the Statue of Liberty sequence in great detail. I wish the featurette had included information about the two leads and their roles, but what's included is very interesting. Production stills, Hitchcock's sketches, and the movie trailer are also included.

The film is also available on VHS.

SABOTEUR can periodically be seen on Turner Classic Movies.

The trailer can be seen here.

October 2014 Update: Here's a post on the movie's "Soda City" location near Lone Pine, California.


Blogger Terri said...

Have you ever seen a movie called "no sad songs for me" with Margaret Sullivan? A dying wife sort of sets things up for her husband and his girlfriend.
Natalie Wood played their daughter.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

I like Saboteur...a lesser known Hitchcock. As you comment, it foreshadows a lot of later Hitchcock films. In particular, some people call this "South by Southeast" because of the similarities to North by Northwest...both have the innocent man travelling across the United States after the badies and a climax on a national monument.

I love the way Priscilla Lane is introduced in this movie...on a billboard!

Gary Cooper turned down the film, (supposedly) because he didn't think suspense/thrillers was an important or big enough genre. Hitchcock was the main person that brought this type of movie out of the B ranks into the A ranks, but Cooper lost his chance.

Glad you liked it!


9:07 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Terri, I haven't seen that one. I enjoy Natalie Wood; I'll watch for it.

Missy, I love the nickname "South By Southwest"! I was thinking not only about both films having a climax at a national monument, but both films have large sections set in NYC (i.e., the United Nations in NBN). The featurette pointed out that "accused man on the run with a beautiful blonde" was also the theme of THE 39 STEPS, which I've not yet seen. More to look forward to!


10:40 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

Yes, you should watch The 39 Steps if you haven't seen it yet! I believe it's the first film to have two characters handcuffed together. Pay close attentions to the use of sound in that movie...I love the woman's scream segueing into the train whistle.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'll definitely check it out, thanks! I have a couple other Hitchcocks I've not seen on loan from my dad (SHADOW OF A DOUBT and MARNIE) and when I send them back I'll ask for 39 STEPS.

Started to write you today and got sidetracked -- moving College Girl back to school tomorrow, but hope to catch up more soon! :)


11:38 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

I think I have The 39 Steps if you want to borrow it, but I'm on the wrong computer to check. Sigh, I used to remember these things.

Should be in's very late here. ttfn!

12:01 AM  
Blogger Cathy said...

This past year, my 14 year old niece discovered that she liked Hitchcock movies... so for Christmas we gave her a boxed set which includes Sabateur. She has plowed through them all already and is working on round 2.

Hitchcock was the master of suspense- but I love his eye as a director- his ability to find a camera angle to make the viewer feel the main character's view point has always been interesting to me.

5:16 AM  
Blogger jau said...

Laura, you've never seen Marnie?! I think it may be my favorite Hitchcock, although it takes about 2-3 watchings for it to get thoroughly under your skin. Sometimes my mind just flashes scenes. I can't wait to hear what you think of it - and I'm excited for you to have it to discover!

Best -

11:23 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Missy, You're so sweet! My note was kind of garbled -- my dad also has 39 STEPS in his collection to send me when I finish the Hitchcocks I've got with me. You make it sound very appealing! It's great that I still have some new-to-me Hitchcocks to watch for the first time. SABOTEUR was a treat!

Cathy, what a terrific gift for your niece! Great way to help cultivate another classic film fan. I hope she continues to discover great old movies. Wonderful to hear from you. :)

Anne, I'm really looking forward to MARNIE -- Sean C. in his prime! It sounds really different and interesting (saw a couple clips in a Tippi Hedren BIOGRAPHY show) -- your rave review definitely makes it sound even more appealing.

Have a good week, everyone!

11:07 PM  
Blogger Missy said...

I should have said in my other email that The 39 Steps is the first time two characters on the run are handcuffed together. My previous comment was too open ended. ;-)

How did you like Persuasion? I posted my initial comments on my blog, but haven't re-watched.


8:09 PM  

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