Friday, April 21, 2017
Saboteur (Alfred Hitchcock, 1942)
Strangers on a Train (1951), and reach its apotheosis in North by Northwest (1959) -- whose climactic struggle on Mount Rushmore was surely inspired by Saboteur's Statue of Liberty sequence, one national monument standing in for another. Cummings and Lane don't strike any sparks with each other, but they aren't bad considering since they're flung into absurd situations -- his initial flight from prosecution, his encounter with a truck driver and a kindly blind man who are mysteriously motivated to help someone suspected of treason, their rescue by a troupe of circus sideshow performers, their blithely elided cross-country journey, their entrapment in a mansion full of high-society fascists, their perfunctorily treated escape, and the loony decision of the villain (Norman Lloyd) to flee to what amounts to a cul-de-sac, i.e., the Statue. Granted, almost every Hitchcock film can be picked apart on the grounds of plausibility, but he usually does a better job of covering it up. In the end, Saboteur reminds me of his earlier film, Young and Innocent (1937), another movie with charisma-deficient stars and a jury-rigged plot in which the director seems to be trying out things he will accomplish with more skill in his later work.