Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Sabotage (1936)

Beefing on Hitchcock

"Sabotage, also released as The Woman Alone, is a 1936 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It is based on Joseph Conrad's novel The Secret Agent. It should not be confused with Hitchcock's film Secret Agent released the same year, or his 1942 film Saboteur." (Wikipedia)

Want to make your movie releases confusing? Make a movie called Secret Agent and then follow it up with a movie based off a book called Secret Agent, but instead of having THAT film be named after the book, call it Sabotage.

I really don't know why I'm complaining about that... After all, it's a fantastic movie with a pretty decent story, although not much of a mystery. What you do get is a relatively run-of-the-mill wartime film about how being a spy for the enemy can go horribly, horribly wrong and will result in the inadvertent death of little children that you care about... and eventually yourself. While that seems a bit trite and not all that creative, it's still incredibly well written and keeps you on the edge of your seat through much of the latter half.

One of the bolder moves in this film Hitchcock has actually admitted is one of his biggest regrets. (If you aren't fond of spoilers for 75-year-old movies, skip the rest of this paragraph.) In one of the best bits of tension and suspense, he puts a little boy (one of the main characters) on a crowded city bus, unwittingly carrying a time bomb... and uncharacteristically of Hitchcock, the bomb actually goes off. In his interview with Francois Truffaut, he states that in hindsight he would have done that scene differently. I don't know how the final act would have worked without it though, but I'm sure he could have come up with something.

Anyways, it's a good movie that can hold up pretty well to the test of time... as long as you can get past the heavy-handed fear mongering. Another one that can't really be found in any really great image/sound quality, I hope Criterion or someone maybe does a release of his 3 main "war/spy" films.

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