A French intelligence agent becomes embroiled in the Cold War politics first with uncovering the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis, and then back to France to break up an international Russian spy ring.
Los Angeles aircraft worker Barry Kane evades arrest after he is unjustly accused of sabotage. Following leads, he travels across the country to New York trying to clear his name by exposing a gang of fascist-supporting saboteurs led by apparently respectable Charles Tobin. Along the way, he involves Pat Martin, eventually preventing another major act of sabotage. They finally catch up with Frank Frye, the man who actually committed the act of sabotage at the aircraft factory. Written by
Alfred Hitchcock was particularly distressed about not getting the villain he wanted. To convey the sense of these homegrown fascists being regular people, the ones you would least likely suspect, he wanted the very All-American former silent film actor and Western star Harry Carey. But Carey's wife was very indignant about the suggestion. Hitchcock told François Truffaut she said, "I am shocked that you should dare to offer my husband a part like this. After all, since Will Roger's death, the youth of America have looked up to my husband!" See more »
At the society ball, Barry and Pat stop by a dancing couple by the piano to talk to them. The man is shown moving and snapping his fingers then stops dancing in one shot, then is shown dancing again in a subsequent shot. See more »
For all its gloss and signature moments, this is surely among the dopiest of Hitchcock's American films. The fault lies not with the production design (slick, often striking) or the actors (the usually marzipan Robert Cummings is surprisingly credible), but with a script so preachy and unmoored that it sounds like it was written by the Minister of Propaganda during a helium overdose.
Even the editing-usually one of the glories of a Hitchcock film-is surprisingly sloppy. Example: The Cummings character is locked in a pantry of a Manhattan mansion. He cleverly melts a sprinkler head (his captors apparently having thought nothing of leaving him with matches and other mischief-making devices) and sets off the house's alarm system. There follows much scurrying among the servants, and the next thing we know, Cummings is out on the street in the crowd observing the `fire'. We can guess how he got there, but it's still as if he were teleported, and it's a cheat.
Some of the setpieces (the meeting with the handsome, refined `model citizen' who turns out to be Corruption itself, for example) are themes Hitchcock explored again and again, usually to better effect. And one encounter-with a kindly, effusive blind man in a remote cabin-is straight out of Bride of Frankenstein. Now that is one strange antecedent.
Still, there are rewards, chief among them the black-comedy shootout in Radio City Music Hall and, of course, the dazzling confrontation at the Statue of Liberty. And then there's Norman Lloyd's saboteur, surely one of the grandest creeps Hitchcock ever conjured.
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