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 thought that Robert Cummings was "a competent performer" but found his performance, and the picture, suffered because Cummings "belongs to the light-comedy class of actors" and had "an amusing face, so that even when he's in desperate straits, his features don't convey any anguish." He thought Priscilla Lane "simply wasn't the right type for a Hitchcock picture." See more »
The close-up of the Soda City calendar shows a much heavier coating of spider webs than the previous shot. See more »
I can assure you that contrary to what is supposed and to what he may himself have told you, that young man is certainly not one of his country's enemies
Charles, you're joking!
I mean exactly what I say. Mr. Kane is definitely no part of our little organization.
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A Caravan Full of Freaks - One of the master's forgotten Gems
After Hitchcock's successful first American film, Rebecca based upon Daphne DuMarier's lush novel of gothic romance and intrigue, he returned to some of the more familiar themes of his early British period - mistaken identity and espionage. As the U.S. settled into World War II and the large scale 'war effort' of civilians building planes, weaponry and other necessary militia, the booming film entertainment business began turning out paranoid and often jingoistic thrillers with war time themes. These thrillers often involved networks of deceptive and skilled operators at work in the shadows among the good, law abiding citizens. Knowing the director was at home in this espionage genre, producer Jack Skirball approached Hitchcock about directing a property he owned that dealt with corruption, war-time sabotage and a helpless hero thrust into a vortex of coincidence and mistaken identity. The darker elements of the narrative and the sharp wit of literary maven Dorothy Parker (during her brief stint in Hollywood before returning to her bohemian roots in NYC) who co-authored the script were a perfect match for Hitchcock's sensibilities.
This often neglected film tells the story of the unfortunate 25 year old Barry Kane (Robert Cummings) who, while at work at a Los Angeles Airplane Factory, meets new employee Frank Frye (Norman Lloydd) and moments later is framed for committing sabotage. Fleeing the authorities who don't believe his far-fetched story he meets several characters on his way to Soda City Utah and finally New York City. These memorable characters include a circus caravan with a car full of helpful 'freaks' and a popular billboard model Patricia Martin (Priscilla Lane) who, during the worst crisis of his life as well as national security, he falls madly in love with! Of course in the land of Hitchcock, Patricia, kidnapped by the supposed saboteur Barry, falls for her captor thus adding romantic tension to the mix.
In good form for this outing, Hitchcock brews a national network of demure old ladies, average Joes, and respectable businessmen who double as secret agent terrorists that harbor criminals, pull guns and detonate bombs to keep things moving. It's a terrific plot that takes its time moving forward and once ignited, culminates in one of Hitchcock's more memorable finales. Look for incredibly life like NYC tourist attractions (all of which were recreated by art directors in Hollywood due to the war-time 'shooting ban' on public attractions). While Saboteur may not be one of Hitchcock's most well known films, it's a popular b-movie that is certainly solid and engaging with plenty of clever plot twists and as usual - terrific Hitchcock villains. Remember to look for Hitchcock's cameo appearance outside a drug store in the second half of the film. Hitchcock's original cameo idea that was shot (him fighting in sign language with his 'deaf' wife) was axed by the Bureau of Standards and Practices who were afraid of offending the deaf!
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