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Sabotage (1936)

Not Rated | | 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) | 4 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:

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

Robert Donat was originally slated to play Ted Spencer, but a prolonged illness prevented him from playing the role. 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

Referenced in Dexter: The British Invasion (2007) 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

Tense, Atmospheric Thriller
14 May 2001 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

"Sabotage" is one of Alfred Hitchcock's least known features, but it is part of a string of fine films he made during his last few years in England, and is well worth watching for any Hitchcock or thriller fan. The picture is based on a classic novel by the great Polish-English writer Joseph Conrad.

This is a tense, atmospheric thriller, without much humor. It is more like "Vertigo", "I Confess", or "The Birds" than "North By Northwest" or "The 39 Steps". Instead of humor, Hitchcock concentrates this time on carefully constructing the world of the Verlocs, the family at the center of the film. The setting, in a movie theater where the family works and lives, is an important part of the themes and questions explored in the film.

The characters are constantly walking in and out of the theater while movies are in progress, or discussing the movies being shown as they go about the main actions of the (actual) film. The obvious themes of appearance and reality parallel the lives of the Verloc family, and especially Mr. Verloc (Oskar Homolka) whom we know from the beginning to be a terrorist, albeit an amateurish one, and not the mild-mannered family man he appears to be. The settings of Verloc's meeting with his co-conspirators, an aquarium and a bird shop, are also carefully chosen to demonstrate the contrast between the everyday appearance of the terrorists and their actual agendas. Besides the obvious implication that such persons may be those we would not suspect, there is also the strong suggestion that these conspirators do not themselves realize the serious nature of the game they are playing. Certainly Verloc himself quickly realizes that he is in over his head, and he tries desperately to get out of the fearsome responsibilities he has accepted.

Hitchcock buffs will enjoy watching the film repeatedly to catch all of the carefully crafted detail, and to enjoy the trademark Hitchcock touches. There are two particularly riveting sequences. One occurs when Verloc sends his wife's young, unsuspecting brother on a dangerous errand, leading to a sequence of excruciating tension. Hitchcock later said he should have ended the sequence differently, and many viewers might agree, but what happens is in keeping with the themes and plot of the movie, and the suspense sequence is also masterfully done. Also well-known from "Sabotage" is the sequence when Mrs. Verloc (Sylvia Sidney) learns the truth about her husband's activities, and the awful consequences of his latest plot. There is first a touching sequence in the theater, when the Disney movie playing on the screen first provokes Mrs. Verloc to involuntary laughter, then to deepened sadness when it too closely parallels her own experience. Then there is a tense, famous scene at the dinner table, filmed as an absolutely masterful montage by Hitchcock.

These scenes, and the finely crafted atmosphere of "Sabotage", make it worthwhile despite a few small faults, and despite the possibility that many viewers will not be comfortable with some of the plot developments. Watch it at least once if you are a Hitchcock fan, or if you like spy stories or thrillers.


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