Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan



Saboteur (1942) Not to be confused with Hitchcock’s {{Sabotage}, this film is one of the very best of his trademark “innocent man on the run” movies, maybe even better than North By Northwest. Robert Cummings is such a stand-up, stalwart, patriotic American that he can deliver several stirring speeches (allegedly written by Dorothy Parker) and make them work, even when they end with a ridiculous line like “till the cows come home!” Lee and I heard that and looked at each other. “Till the cows come home?” Really? That’s now long we will keep fighting Nazis or commies or whatever this vast conspiracy was. (We’re never told.) Yeah, Bob was a man of the people, but so was Lincoln, and somehow I can’t see Lincoln saying that line.

The whole plot is preposterous, but the frenetic pace, with one tense scene after another, made it all work for me. That, and quirky little Hitchcock touches, such as the scene where Bob is being driven across the country by three bad guys who believe he’s on their side. The two in the front are singing some romantic song. Well, driving that far is boring. Why not sing? There are a lot of funny touches like that. Then there is the unbelievably saintly blind man who sees more than his lovely daughter (Priscilla Lane, who to no one’s surprise overcomes her initial distrust of Bob the Saboteur).

Maybe the best scene is in the traveling wagon with the circus freaks: the nasty little dwarf, the philosophical human skeleton, the bickering Siamese twins, the bearded lady … with her beard in curlers! It’s funny, and moving at the same time.

But there’s also the shoot-out in Radio City Music Hall, and of course the amazing finale on the torch of the Statue of Liberty, which I personally prefer even over the chase over Mount Rushmore in North by Northwest. Why the evil Mr. Fry chooses to board a ferry to Bedloe’s Island when fleeing the cops doesn’t bear thinking about, but who can worry about plot logic like that when the payoff is Fry dangling from Miss Liberty’s upraised hand, with Bob Cummings holding onto his coat sleeve … and the sleeve begins to sloooowly rip.