Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: Priscilla Lane, Robert Cummings, Otto Kruger
Plot: Aircraft factory worker Barry Kane goes on the run across the United States when he is wrongly accused of starting a fire that killed his best friend.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: MILD)
Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur is a delight to watch. It was one of his first few 'wrong man' pictures, in which the protagonist is accused of a crime he did not commit, and seeks personal vindication and justice. Interestingly, it's the first Hitchcock film to feature an all-American cast and is completely shot in America.
Saboteur neither reaches the standards of Rear Window, Psycho, or Vertigo, nor is it made when Hitchcock was at the prime of his career, but it gives a glimpse of his talent in storytelling and the building of suspense.
As with most Hitchcock features, there are unforgettable images and signature set pieces that could have only been designed by him. In Psycho, there was the shocking shower scene. In North By Northwest, there was the thrilling crop-dusting scene. In Saboteur, the most striking image is that of the antagonist dangling in the air atop of the Statue of Liberty.
Filmed in black-and-white, Saboteur is not necessarily an example of great cinematography. However, the colour stock used is easy on the eye, and does not appear to affect the film's ability to engage viewers. The performances of the cast are decent, but there's no real starring act here. If there's one thing I loved most about Saboteur, it would be the pacing of the film.
Hitchcock establishes the story with little urgency, and while the film does not really shift into high gears even in suspense mode, the pacing of each scene is slow but steady, yet remarkably arresting at the same time. Saboteur may not be a Hitchcock masterpiece, but as with The Lady Vanishes (1938) it's certainly one of his most underrated.
GRADE: B+ (8/10 or 3.5 stars)
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