Sabotage (1936)

DailyView: Day 120, Movie 193

I love Alfred Hitchcock. However, when I selected the 1936 film Sabotage on HBO Max tonight for the next entry in the DailyView, I was unaware that it was directed by the master. I had read the summary on the HBO Max page and thought it sounded interesting. I saw Hitchcock’s name in the opening credits and I was immediately excited. I have not seen a lot of Hitchcock in the DailyView and this would be a treat.

Apparently, Sabotage was the final film of Hitchcock’s British movies before he came over to the States. I also discovered that the film was released in the US under the name The Woman Alone, but was not as well known among Hitchcock’s films.

Karl Verloc (Oskar Homolka) managed a little cinema in London along with his wife (Sylvia Sidney) and her teenage brother Steve (Desmond Tester). However, Mr. Verloc had a secret… he was a member of a gang of foreign saboteurs using bombs to spread their terror in London. Scotland Yard Detective Sgt. Ted Spencer (John Loder) was assigned to find out what he could about Mr. Verloc. He befriended Mrs. Verloc and Steve in an attempt to discover the connection between her husband and the espionage happening in the area.

This is another example of why Hitchcock is the master of suspense as this film is filled with it. There are some amazing sequences that build up the suspense of what the audience thinks is happening and it really works well.

The suspense is especially tense during a sequence in the film on a bus. It was a very controversial scene and, reportedly, even Hitchcock himself was unsure about it. That scene, which I will not reveal because of spoilers, is perhaps the best in the film.

Performances are solid and you do feel for Mrs. Verloc throughout the film. She is so supportive of her husband and he is just a monster. There are some satisfying moments in the third act.

It is a quick watch and, though the first part of the movie is a bit slow, Sabotage really builds up to a powerful second and third act. You can see the traits of Hitchcock’s directorial style in the movie and, if you are a fan of the director, you want to search out this film.

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