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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.


Alfred Hitchcock


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




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


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


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


Crime | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Graham Greene, a well-known film critic in the 1930s as well as a novelist, was well-known for his intense dislike of the films of Alfred Hitchcock and also for his no less intense admiration of the novels of Joseph Conrad, whose influence on Greene has been often remarked. However, although this Hitchcock film is a very free adaptation of Conrad's novel "The Secret Agent", Greene was, rather surprisingly, full of praise for it and often said it was Hitchcock's best film. Later and more renowned Hitchcock films found Greene once again indifferent, and he emphatically refused to sell the film rights to any of his novels to Hitchcock. See more »


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


[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 »


Version of The Secret Agent (2016) See more »


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 »

User Reviews

The film with the infamous 'bomb on bus' scene
15 March 2006 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

Sabotage clearly isn't Hitchcock's finest hour; but even though this is a 'lesser' Hitchcock film, the director still manages to inject the film with many of his trademarks that would go on to make classics out of films such as Psycho and North by Northwest. Hitchcock makes centrepieces out of several scenes; the best of which include a cross-fade with an aquarium and a London street, the striking opening sequence that sees London go dark; of course, the infamous scene on a bus - and my personal favourite and the crux of the film - the climatic scene that sees saboteur Karl Verloc (played to perfection by Oskar Homolka) try to pass the blame for his actions on to the Scotland Yard inspective who rumbled him. The plot sees cinema owner, the aforementioned Karl Verloc, get himself involved with terrorists. He manages the cinema along with his wife and her brother, and neither of them knows what's going on. The only third party who does know is Sgt. Ted Spencer; the Scotland Yard inspector employed to work a vegetable stall next door as a cover to investigate Mr Verloc.

This film is most famous for the sequence that sees young Desmond Tester carry a bomb onto a packed London bus. Audiences at the time were outraged by the climax to this scene; but I was impressed with it. By having the story run the way it should, Hitchcock showed early on the sort of flair that would ensure Psycho a place on 'best film' lists forty five years after its release. Hitchcock shows a willingness to take a risk, and while it may not have done him much good at the time - it's that sort of mentality that made him one of cinema's greats. As you'd expect, Hitchcock makes best use of the latest cinema techniques available at the time, but also harks back to the silent classics with several shots made to look like storyboards. It's obvious why Joseph Conrad's novel appealed to the great director, as the story itself is packed with suspense and Hitchcock always makes the best of it. The build up to the finale of the bus scene is beautifully serene, yet so daunting at the same time. On the whole; Sabotage represents a good example of early Hitchcock and comes highly recommended to his many fans.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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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


Sound Mix:

Mono (Full Range Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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