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The Times (28/May/1942) - Saboteur, Mr Hitchcock's new film

(c) The Times (28/May/1942)



Mr. Alfred Hitchcock does not attempt anything startlingly original in Saboteur. He is content to take the old counters in the game of sabotage, flight and pursuit, and his interest, and that of the audience, lies in the cinematic pattern he makes of them.

Mr. Hitchcock has always been at his best in his suggestion of suspense. His silences are charged with meaning, with the feeling that menace is crouching in the corner ready to spring, and he is never afraid of keeping his camera immobile and working on the audience's feelings by his prolonged concentration on one significant detail. Here the seconds the camera spends recording the gradual spread of a tear in a coat are the most effective in the film and other incidents, the sudden ringing of a telephone in a deserted shack, for instance, help to keep the adventure moving imaginatively as well as dramatically. Barry (Mr. Robert Cummings), an honest young workman, is suspected of sabotage in an aeroplane factory in California, breaks away from the police, meets Pat (Miss Priscilla Lane), who learns to trust him, passes himself off as a member of the gang, saves a battleship from being blown up as it launched and comes to final victory on the top of the statue of Liberty. The story is fantastically improbable and Mr. Hitchcock, having the sense to realize it, deliberately exploits its fantastic elements. Barry and Pat on their long journey to New York fall in with a circus and travel in a van with the freaks. Mr. Alan Baxter, as one of the saboteurs, contributes a study in pathology and the contrast between the party at the fashionable New York house which is the headquarters of the gang and the plight of the fugitives heightens that sense of nightmare from which the film is never far removed. Mr. Cummings and Miss Lane show themselves well suited to their parts and Mr. Norman Lloyd succeeds in turning a minor role into a major one.

Saboteur goes to the Leicester Square cinema tomorrow.