Saboteur (Alfred Hitchcock, 1942)

Definitely not Hitchcock’s finest hours, Saboteur’s languid pacing makes for a bore. Not until the film’s end does any semblance of suspense arise, and by then, I’m too uninterested in the characters and narrative arch to care. Saboteur’s overt patriotism bogs down what could have at least been a standard thriller, but its frank Americanism is simply too overbearing for me to buy into. The premise, initially, drew me in– an airplane worker named Barry Kane (Robert Cummings) is framed and accused of sabotage. As Barry attempts to unravel the mystery, Hitchcock makes some interesting statements on the role of wealth and the perception implied in being a member of the elite. Unfortunately, the narrative hurdles along the way are all together ludicrous – so much of the film is grounded in some sort of literary surrealism, wherein actors represent ideas rather than actual characters. The most obvious example is a blind character who just so happens to see more than he lets on. The character feels more at home in fairy tales than a suspense thriller. Saboteur’s conclusion, atop the Statue of Liberty, blends that sense of heightened surrealism with genuine suspense, yet it ends so awkwardly that I could hardly imagine that a master auteur like Hitchcock could’ve really thought that final scene was the place to end it.