- Based on the novel "The Secret Agent" by Joseph Conrad
- NTSC Formatted (U.S.)
- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 17 minutes
- Video: Black & White
- Released: December 2, 1936
- Originally Released: 1936
- Label: Alpha Video
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Description by OLDIES.com:
Joseph Conrad's story The Secret Agent is the basis for one of Hitchcock's most intense and riveting suspense thrillers. Oscar Homolka plays Karl Verloc, a movie theater owner who, unbeknownst to his wife (Sylvia Sidney), is a saboteur planting bombs around the city. Although Verloc is clever enough to conceal his activities from almost everyone, he arouses the suspicions of government agent Ted Spencer (John Loder), and soon those of his own wife. Feeling trapped, he sends his wife's unwitting younger brother out to deliver an explosive package. In one of the film's most electrifying and suspenseful sequences, the boy is caught in rush hour traffic as the timer on the bomb ticks away.
Co-written by Charles Bennett (who also wrote Hitchcock's 39 Steps and The Man Who Knew Too Much), Sabotage features many famous Hitchcock techniques, including the use of humor alternating with scenes of gripping suspense, and the awakening of an innocent person to the evil doings of a family member.
Alfred Hitchcock's 1936 drama, among his darkest, is the one to which he regretfully pointed later as the exception that proved his usual rule about good suspense: you have to let an audience know the precise danger that a character doesn't know he imminently faces. Then you have to withdraw or cancel out the danger lest viewers feel betrayed. The "betrayal" in Sabotage rather famously involves a bomb, a boy, and a bus. But in the context of the story (based on Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, inevitably confused with Hitchcock's quite different film called Secret Agent), the twist has a devastating significance, ushering in the director's pet themes about the proximity of chaos to ordinary life and the nature and transference of guilt. Sylvia Sidney stars as the naive American wife of a German spy, the latter using a movie theater as a cover for his terrorist activities. When he asks his wife's young brother to make a delivery--a package containing a ticking bomb, unknown to the child--a bus delay causes the boy to die in the timed explosion. Sidney's character murders her spouse in revenge, but as in Hitch's great Blackmail, the deed is obscured by a sympathetic lawman who ultimately shares her secret. Wrong or right, right or wrong--the clear distinctions don't often exist in the great director's movies, and Sabotage is no exception. The print of the film used in the DVD release is serviceable and probably comparable to an average 16mm classroom or museum presentation. The DVD also includes a Hitchcock filmography, trivia questions, a director biography, and scene access. --Tom Keogh