Robert Cummings stars as Barry Kane, a patriotic munitions worker who is falsely accused of sabotage, in this wartime thriller from Alfred Hitchcock. Plastered across the front page of every newspaper and hated by the nati... more »on, Kane's only hope of clearing his name is to find the real villain. If this sounds a bit like Hitchcock's later North by Northwest, it is. There are interesting echoes throughout, including a heart-stopping sequence on top of a national monument. But the most interesting thing about Saboteur is the frequency with which characters demonstrate their willingness to obstruct the police, going on nothing more than the fact that Kane seems like a stand-up guy. They do, again and again, apparently just because good people can spot other good people. Saboteur was made during the thick of World War II, so there are a few passages of heavy-handed jingoism to get through but they're relatively painless. The script as a whole is a clever one--Algonquin wit Dorothy Parker shares a screenwriting credit, and her trademark zingers make for a terrific mix of humor and suspense. Saboteur is a pleasure whether you're a die-hard Hitchcock fan or just someone who likes a good nail-biter. --Ali Davis« less
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 09/19/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The factory where Barry Kane(Bob Cummings)and his friends work building war time airplanes explodes into flame during a lunchtime break.When Kane and his best friend move in to put out the fire with fire extinguishers (the sprinkler system was mysteriously out of order), Kane's friend is killed. When it's uncovered that the fire extinguisher handed to them by Fry was filled with gas, the authorities suspect sabotage and Kane becomes the prime culprit. Now Kane must track down the mysterious an unfriendly stranger named Fry (Norman Lloyd in a sharp, scary performance) in order to prove his innocence. Fry mysteriously vanishes leaving Kane (in a witty reference to Orson Welles "Citizen Kane")the only visible suspect of the sabotage. In the process he discovers a facist group called "the Fifth Column" which, somehow, is involved in this conspiracy.
A midperiod minor classic from Hitchcock, "Saboteur" features a number of marvelous sequences that make it instantly memorable. The sequence where Kane tries to save someone dangling from the Statue of Liberty foreshadows his later films like "North by Northwest" and even "Vertigo". The full screen presentation (for those who are interested no movies were shot in widescreen prior to the mid-50's. Widescreen was designed to couteract the effect of television)looks quite good. Universal clearly spent quite a bit of time spiffing up this black and white thriller. The transfer is quite good with solid blacks, whites and grays. The picture occasionally suffers from a bit of edge enhancement and there are occasional analog imperfections but, on the whole, "Saboteur" looks terrific. Universal has done a great job of paying tribute to Hitchcock by putting together this carefully researched and transferred disc.
My only complaint is that there isn't a commentary track featuring someone like Peter Bogdanovich and some of the production crew/cast interviewed for the DVD. Additionally, some comments from Bogdanovich's famous interviews with Hitchcock for his book would also have spiced this up a bit. There weren't many comments on "Saboteur" included in the book but those that reference the film and its era would have been welcome.
The DVD includes a documentary on the making of the film with interviews with Pat Hitchcock O'Connell (Hitch's daughter), actor Norman Lloyd (who plays Fry and became a frequent Hitchcock collaborator and ultimately ended up co-producing "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" with Joan Harrison), associate art director Robert Boyle and cast members. We also get to see Hitch's storyboards for certain sequences in the film as well as Hitch's sketches, production photographs, photo and poster gallery from the film. We also get production notes, cast and filmmaker info and the original theatrical trailer. A nicely done package by Universal, "Saboteur" was put out as part of Universal's series of Hitchcock films back in the year 2000. The witty script (credited by Peter Viertel, Joan Harrison and the witty Dorothy Parker), performances (Bob Cummings does a great job in light of the fact that he wasn't Hitch's first choice. Gary Cooper turned down the part and Joel McCrea wasn't available although he was eager to work with Hitch again after "Foreign Correspondent")and direction, "Saboteur" may be of its time but it transcends the era it was made in. "
Entertaining WWII Thriller
Bobby Underwood | Manly NSW, Australia | 05/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a fun to watch wartime thriller from Hitchcock of an aircraft munitions worker forced to take it on the lam and find a Nazi saboteur named Fry when he is wrongly accused of the act of sabotage which killed his best friend. Hitchcock's films often get compared unfairly to each other, but taken on its own terms, this is a wonderfully entertaining suspense film with some genuinely memorable moments.
Robert Cummings is excellent as munitions worker Barry Kane, in constant danger both from the police and the bad guys, as he traces a network of saboteurs to a man named Tobin (Otto Kruger) at "Deep Springs Ranch." Tobin knows who Fry is but also knows no one will believe Kane. But as Kane narrowly escapes the police and the Nazi sympathizers he is aided by some along the way who can see he is a stand-up guy, wrongly accused.
One of those people is the blind father of Pat (Priscilla Lane), a billboard model who doesn't share her father's faith in Kane. She starts out doing everthing she can to turn him over to the police but ends up falling in love instead, and in just as much danger as he is. There is a particularly tense scene at a huge party as Kane confronts the cool and slimy Tobin but can't expose the house full of secret agents because Pat has been captured and will be killed if he does.
This film has some great moments of suspense. One such moment, is a plea for help written in lipstick from a trapped Pat, floating down a skyscraper in New York, waiting to be found. The troop of a circus sideshow play a part in the couple's plight also, as his quest to clear himself takes him from Boulder Dam to Rockefeller Center to the Statue of Liberty.
There is a tight and witty script from Dorothy Parker, among others, and Hitchcock's famous little touches keep this one interesting. Robert Cummings, who had proved himself in comedy the previous year in "It Started With Eve" with Deanna Durbin, showed his versatility in this film. Priscilla Lane, pretty and likable, gives another nice performance here.
Taken on its own merits, this is a really good film, a great popcorn movie for a rainy night or a lazy weekend. There's nothing wrong with that."
Wartime Fear on the Silver Screen...
Kim Anehall | Chicago, IL USA | 12/28/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Amidst World War II Barry Kane (Robert Cummings) gets falsely accused for blowing up an aircraft factory on the west coast, however, he has one clue which he intends to follow up on. This clue takes him to to the deserts of the United States where he finds reluctant help through a blind man and his daughter Patricia (Priscilla Lane). It seems like the clues lead toward the Big Apple where Barry intends to find the saboteur who really blew up the airplane plant. Saboteur is a suspenseful film that was made during World War II when there was an actual fear for saboteurs, traitors, and spies. This fear must have enhanced the suspense that the film provides, and it is still a thrilling cinematic experience that leaves the audience agape from the beginning to the end."
My Favorite Hitchcock Film
McGillicutty | The Sooner Nation | 06/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Oh, I'll admit that there are better Hitchcock films, but none have struck a cord with me as much as "Saboteur". From the opening scene at the aircraft plant to the finale played out atop the Statue of Liberty, "Saboteur" is one wild ride set at breakneck speed.
Robert Cummings (who was not the first choice as I understand) is perfect as Barry Kane, the aircraft worker falsely accused of sabotage. He travels the countryside following the only clue to the wherabouts of the real Saboteur (Norman Lloyd) and discovers the organization behind the attack. Priscilla Lane (of "Arsenic & Old Lace") reluctantly joins Kane in his quest which leads them to New York.
There are some marvelous scenes, most notably the death of Kane's friend (a particularly graphic death for 1942 audiences), Kane's attempted escapes by horseback and off a bridge, and a gun battle inside Radio City Music Hall.
My favorite happens aboard the last car of the circus train where the unusual occupants decide (in Democratic fashion) whether to hand Kane over to the police. It symbolizes how even the so-called "rejects" of society still value democratic ideals.
The film is full of patriotic fervor, which is to be expected given the subject matter and the era in which the film was made. But even when it goes overboard (such as the Uncle's plea to his niece about Kane), the sentiment never threatens to overwhelm the movie.
This DVD is of the new "Masterpiece" Series (which you can buy all 14 together) and comes with some welcome extras. Such as sketches Hitchcock made of the Statue of Liberty sequence, production notes, trailer, publicity photos, and in particular an informative documentary on the making of the film with an extended interview of the last major cast member still alive, Norman Lloyd. Lloyd is simply wonderful in recalling the stories behind the film and it's almost worth the price of the DVD hearing him tell just how the famous "falling" effect was achieved.
For Hitchcock fans, you already know about this film, for those looking for an exciting movie to pass the evening with, "Saboteur" is one I heartily recommend.
Tidbits: - The publicity photos included on the DVD are pretty interesting, particulary those that don't seem to have much to do with the film. For example, there is one of Robert Cummings riding a bike and laughing (at what, I don't know).
- The Marine Security Sargent at the dock is Al Bridge, whom you may recognize as one of Prestin Stugis's veteran troop in such films as "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek".
- The credits on Amazon for this film list Robert Mitchum as "Passerby". If true, this would be his first film appearence (after several viewings, I've yet to identify him).
- The original trailer for "Saboteur" is included. It starts off like most typical trailers with scenes from the film. Then Robert Cummings enters in character as Barry Kane and describes what happens to him. A different approach than most trailers and a refreshing change. "
The Statue of Liberty Will Never Be the Same Again
Bruce Lee Pullen | Butler, IN USA | 12/06/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sixty years since it's initial theatrical release, Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur has unfortunately aged into an obviously dated, formalistically predictable, and slightly uneven innocent man thriller that still entertains only due to luminous directorial touches of the Master of Suspense. Starring Robert Cummings, Priscilla Lane, and Otto Krueger (playing the devilishly unpatriotic Charles Tobin), the film does boast a superior supporting cast, numerous Hitchcock narrative touches, many typically overacted performances, a reliably schmaltzy romance, many instances of incredibly defined suspense, and an undeniably brilliant ending Hitchcock Set piece that definitely rates up their with Vertigo's Church Tower, North By Northwest's Mount Rushmore, Foreign Correspondent's Windmill, or any of the Bird's attack sequences.Though apparently Hitchcock's first truly American Innocent Man chase picture, Saboteur remains one of Hitchcock's least enduring of his 40's thrillers. Regrettably for the film's appeal, Saboteur showcases American characters, American landscapes, and routinely American clichés that just don't mesh as well as they aught to in a Hitchcock forum. Hitchcock did eventually direct the Ultimate American Chase Picture with North By Northwest (1959) starring Cary Grant, Eve Marie Saint, James Mason, and Martin Landau, but Saboteur ultimately remains as a colorfully memorable side note in the Master's exemplary career as a filmmaker.Recommended for fans or students of Hitchcock, 40's Cinema, and WW2 propaganda films. Can't wait to see the Saboteur on DVD."