Saboteur is one of Alfred Hitchcock's most accessible films. A likeable "wrong man" protagonist is the keys the easy going action. Robert Cummings plays hero Bruce Kane as nice ordinary guy. Cummings is a surprisingly credible hero and a warm romantic lead. Saboteur is clearly a reworking of Hitchcock's British classic The 39 Steps. The plotting is similar, even the scenes have a distinct similarity. The reworking a wonderful and Hitchcock enjoys dressing up his old film in new American clothes. Hitchcock makes it all look easy in Saboteur.
Adding spice to the cross country chase are a diverse
assortment of bad guys, all molded as rather ordinary men. Hitchcock enriches the plot with the
conversational details of these dangerous characters. Freeman talks about his childhood with
innocent wonder, Tobin dotes on his baby granddaughter, another man wonders when he can get away to
take his wife to the Philharmonic. A short detour at a circus caravan is simply wonderful. The New
York setting for the frantic wrap up is terrific. From the Brooklyn Navy Yard to the Statue of
Liberty, Kane and Martin pursue the spies. The wonderful climax of Saboteur on Lady Liberty
is vintage Hitchcock. Priscilla Lane is charming as Patricia Martin. She looks like a wholesome
billboard girl. Lane's no heavyweight actress, but the Hitchcock gets what he expects from Lane's
all-American presence. Smooth Otto Krueger plays Charles Tobin, the rich man with a hunger for
power. Krueger spreads a sinister smile with rare relish. Alan Baxter as Freeman looks more like a
petty bureaucrat than a Nazi spy. With the ordinary appearance of these fifth column characters
Hitchcock sends a subtle warning to his war time audience.
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