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Harrison's Reports (1942) - Saboteur




"Saboteur" with Robert Cummings and Priscilla Lane

(Universal, April 24; time, 108 min.)

A thrilling timely melodrama about the subversive activities of fifth columnists. The picture catches one's interest at the beginning and never loses its hold. Although the melodramatic sequences become far-fetched towards the end to a point where intelligent audiences might find them laughable, they do not lessen its entertainment value for the masses. The story has been handled by Alfred Hitchcock in his well-known manner; it is replete with human appeal, fast and suspensive action and many thrills. The performances are excellent. The picture brings to the attention of the public the methods that saboteurs might use in their attempts to undermine the country's defense effort :—

Robert Cummings and Virgil Summers, his pal, both aircraft workers, collide with Norman Lloyd, a fellow worker, on their way to lunch. Helping to retrieve the scattered contents of Lloyd's wallet, they notice on a letter his name and address. Lloyd seems upset. A fire in the paint shop brings them rushing back. Lloyd hands Cummings an extinguisher. Cummings gives it to Summers, who plays it on the flames. The flames engulf him, burning him to death. At the inquest, Cummings relates the part he had played during the fire, naming Lloyd as one who had helped. Cummings learns from Dorothy Peterson, Summers' mother, that the police had a warrant for his arrest. The extinguisher he had given to Summers contained gasoline, and the plant had no record of Lloyd's employment. Cummings eludes the police, planning to track down Lloyd. Remembering the address he had seen on the letter, Cummings makes his way to the ranch of Otto Kruger, leader of the sabotage ring. Kruger denies knowing Lloyd, but Cummings notices a telegram in which Lloyd informs Kruger that he is on his way to Soda City. Kruger, an influential citizen, has Cummings arrested as a fugitive, despite Cumming's protests to the police that Kruger is a saboteur. When the police car is halted by a traffic jam on a bridge, Cummings escapes by diving into the river below. He reaches the secluded cabin of Vaughan Glaser, a blind composer, who befriends him. Glaser sends Cummings with Priscilla Lane, his niece, to a blacksmith to remove Cummings' handcuffs. Miss Lane feels no sympathy for Cummings and attempts to turn him over to the authorities. But he prevents her from doing so. Cummings convinces her that he is innocent, and induces her to accompany him to Soda City, where they locate a shack belonging to the saboteurs. When two of the gang arrive, Miss Lane hides, while Cummings pretends to be one of them. Miss Lane reports her findings to the Sheriff, just as the saboteurs start for New York with Cummings. In New York, Cummings is escorted to a mansion, where a swank party is in progress. He finds Miss Lane there, a prisoner of Kruger. Cummings attempts to warn the guests that Alma Kruger, the hostess, is involved with the gang, but he is outwitted. Slugged and imprisoned in a basement storeroom, he sets off the sprinkler system and escapes when the first department arrives. Newspaper headlines about a battleship launching at the Brooklyn Navy Yard remind Cummings that the saboteurs planned to wreck the ship. Reaching the Yard, Cummings sees Lloyd inside a newsreel truck. He fights with Lloyd, but he is subdued. His fight, however, so delays the explosion that the ship escapes destruction. Meanwhile Miss Lane succeeds in attracting the attention of some cab drivers, who call the F.B.I. The gang is caught, but Lloyd escapes. He is followed by Miss Lane to the Statue of Liberty. There, he is cornered by Cummings atop the statue, from where he falls to his death, despite Cummings' efforts to save him.

Peter Viertel, Joan Harrison and Dorothy Parker wrote the original screen play. It was directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Frank Lloyd is the producer, and Jack H. Skirball the associate producer.