Saboteur [1942]

Robert Cummings stars as Barry Kane, a patriotic munitions worker who is falsely accused of sabotage, in this wartime thriller from Alfred Hitchcock. Plastered across the front page of every newspaper and hated by the nation, Kane's only hope of clearing his name is to find the real villain. If this sounds a bit like Hitchcock's later North by Northwest, it is. There are interesting echoes throughout, including a heart-stopping sequence on top of a national monument. But the most interesting thing about Saboteur is the frequency with which characters demonstrate their willingness to obstruct the police, going on nothing more than the fact that Kane seems like a stand-up guy. They do, again and again, apparently just because good people can spot other good people. Saboteur was made during the thick of World War II, so there are a few passages of heavy-handed jingoism to get through but they're relatively painless. The script as a whole is a clever one--Algonquin wit Dorothy Parker shares a screenwriting credit, and her trademark zingers make for a terrific mix of humor and suspense. Saboteur is a pleasure whether you're a die-hard Hitchcock fan or just someone who likes a good nail-biter. --Ali Davis

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