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Sabotage (1936)

Not Rated | | Crime, Thriller | 11 January 1937 (USA)
A Scotland Yard undercover detective is on the trail of a saboteur who is part of a plot to set off a bomb in London. But when the detective's cover is blown, the plot begins to unravel.

Director:

Alfred Hitchcock

Writers:

Joseph Conrad (novel), Charles Bennett (screen play) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Sylvia Sidney ... Mrs. Verloc (as Sylvia Sydney)
Oskar Homolka ... Karl Anton Verloc (as Oscar Homolka)
Desmond Tester ... Stevie
John Loder ... Ted Spencer
Joyce Barbour Joyce Barbour ... Renee
Matthew Boulton ... Superintendent Talbot
S.J. Warmington ... Hollingshead
William Dewhurst ... The Professor
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Storyline

Mr. Verloc is part of a gang of foreign saboteurs operating out of London. He manages a small cinema with his wife and her teenage brother as a cover, but they know nothing of his secret. Scotland Yard assign an undercover detective to work at the shop next to the cinema in order to observe the gang. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

...A Bomb Plot ...A Killing ...Justice

Genres:

Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 January 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

I Married a Murderer See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Full Range Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Based on Joseph Conrad's novel "The Secret Agent", this sports a different title, as Sir Alfred Hitchcock's previous movie was called Secret Agent (1936), which was based on stories by W. Somerset Maugham. See more »

Goofs

During lunch at Simpson's, a man's hat appears behind Mrs. Verloc between shots. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Man in power plant: Sand.
2nd Man in power plant: Sabotage.
3rd Man in power plant: Wrecking.
4th Man in power plant: Deliberate.
2nd Man in power plant: What's at the back of it?
3rd Man in power plant: Who did it?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown with a background of a dictionary page open to the definition of "Sabotage". See more »

Connections

Featured in Alfred Hitchcock: Master of Suspense (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Love's Old Sweet Song (Just a Song At Twilight)
(1884) (uncredited)
Music by J.L. Molloy
Lyrics by G. Clifton Bingham
Sung a cappella by a man lighting candles
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Good Hitchcock, but I miss Conrad's layered ironies
24 February 2005 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

"Sabotage" is one of a series of six films in the mid 1930s that firmly created the public image of Alfred Hitchcock as a major film director and artist. The others were "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1934), "The Secret Agent", "The Thirty-Nine Steps", "Young and Innocent", and "The Lady Vanishes". The films caught attention in American (especially "The Thirty-Nine Steps" and "The Lady Vanishes"), and Hitchcock was invited to come to America by David Selznick, who would be his producer from 1939 onward.

The other comments on this film have pointed out some of the best moments, such as the explosion scene and the death of Verloc (Oskar Homolka). The film was quite well made, but the film had to be modernized for it's 1937 audiences. Although the foreign power that is behind Homolka's gang is never mentioned, a 1937 audience would have probably considered it was Nazi Germany (which was the suggested enemy in "The Lady Vanishes", and "The Thirty-Nine Steps". In the original story Verloc is acting for the government of Tsarist Russia, who has sent a high ranking official to London to tell Verloc to commit a terrorist act (to spur anti-Immigrant feelings in London). Verloc does not run a cinema (as in the movie - the novel came out in 1907), but a small store. However, he does sell contraceptive devices, which Conrad hints at but doesn't name. Verloc lives in a fool's paradise with his wife Winnie and her simple-minded brother. He thinks that his wife adores him, but she only tolerates him for the sake of giving her brother a home. When Verloc's plan destroys the brother, it destroys the household. Verloc's world is that of the foreign anarchists in London, none of whom are worthy of the respect their breast beating comments make them think they deserve. One of them is at total war with society, and wears an outfit that a modern suicide bomber would not find amiss (this character is kept in the film, but his impact is reduced by script changes). In the novel, when this "brave" anarchist goes out into the public wearing his booby-trapped coat, he suddenly sees the vast multitudes in the street and realizes that no matter how many he kills or maims thousands and millions will replace them - and nobody will replace him! Conrad's "The Secret Agent" was called the most completely ironic novel in English. If not it comes close, and is possibly his best novel ("Lord Jim" and "Nostromo" may be better). The twisted irony of the plot (for all the destruction nothing really changes) is first rate in the writing, but it does not translate too well in this film version. Watch the film for Hitchcock's touches and his directing of Homolka, Sylvia Sydney, and the rest. But read the novel by Conrad for the real treat.


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