Independent Films, Film Profiles
Saboteur is a 1942 Universal film directed by Alfred Hitchcock with a screenplay written by Peter Viertel, Joan Harrison, and Dorothy Parker. The movie stars Priscilla Lane, Robert Cummings, and Norman Lloyd. It should not be confused with a Hitchcock film of a similar title, Sabotage (also known as The Woman Alone, 1936).Aircraft factory worker Barry Kane (Cummings) is wrongly accused of starting a fire at a Glendale, California airplane plant during World War II, an act of fifth columnist sabotage that killed his best friend. Kane becomes a fugitive when he decides to run from the authorities to find the real saboteur. Kane believes that the real saboteur is a man named Fry (Lloyd), whom he had also seen working at the plant just before the fire, but the images of Kane in the newspapers lead others to believe in Kane's culpability, and when authorities check lists of the plant's employees, no one named "Fry" is found on them.Having learned of Fry's name and last address, Kane heads there, a ranch in the Central Valley. The ranch's owner is apparently a well-respected local citizen but it is later revealed that he is secretly in league with the saboteurs. Turned in by the rancher, Kane is arrested by the police but later manages to escape. He takes refuge with a kind blind man whose visiting niece is a billboard model, Patricia "Pat" Martin (Priscilla Lane). When her uncle asks her to take Kane to the local blacksmith shop so that he can have his handcuffs removed, she instead attempts to take him to the local police, believing that it is the right thing to do. When Kane catches on, he overpowers and kidnaps Martin, protesting his innocence. He eventually uses the fan-belt pulley of her car's generator to cut off his handcuffs, but the resultant damage eventually causes the car to overheat.Late at night, they see a truck of a traveling circus and decide to hitch a ride. When stopped by the authorities, freak show performers decide to deceive the police, hiding Kane in a bunk and disguising Martin as a snake charmer. Martin begins to fall in love with Kane. Kane acts on a lead he had discovered at the ranch and asks for them to be dropped off at the destination he knows only as "Soda City".When they arrive, they find an apparently-abandoned mining camp which is in reality a staging area for the saboteurs' plan to blow up Boulder Dam. After Kane is discovered by the saboteurs, he convinces them that the newspaper and radio accounts are true and that he is, in fact, a saboteur in league with them. Arguing among themselves and finding their plans to destroy Boulder Dam foiled, they resolve to head for a new job in New York City. Overheard from the next room, Kane's performance is so convincing that Martin begins to believe again that he is guilty and flees, hoping to find her way to New York in time to stop them. With Kane, the group of saboteurs drives eastward toward the city, planning to sabotage the launching of a new U.S. Navy ship at the Brooklyn shipyard. The bomb will be set in the launching track and will be detonated wirelessly from the back of a truck belonging to their phony newsreel outfit.The saboteurs' main New York ally is the socially-prominent Mrs. Sutton, who is hosting a charity ball at her home the night before the planned act. Meeting with the saboteurs in a private study, Kane finds a captured Martin, who had gone to the police with what she knew but was betrayed by a corrupt chief privy to the conspiracy. The captive Martin reacts angrily to Kane, and as he desperately attempts to signal that she should escape, they are interrupted by the unexpected arrival of the ranch owner, who recognizes Kane and denounces him as a foe to the conspiracy. The saboteurs, realizing they were fooled, lock Kane in the cellar and Martin in an office at Rockefeller Center. The following morning, Martin drops a rescue note from her window, which leads to notification of the FBI. With the FBI's aid, Martin is rescued, while Kane triggers a fire alarm back at the mansion and frees himself.Kane arrives at the shipyard to warn the Navy just before the planned launching, but his story is not believed by the guards at the gates. Kane sneaks in anyway, discovers the phony newsreel truck, and finds Fry at the controls inside. Kane throws himself onto Fry and wrestles to stop him from hitting the detonator. Kane delays Fry long enough so that when Fry manages to activate the detonator, the ship is safely out of the dock. Throwing off Kane and holding him at gunpoint, Fry is driven to Rockefeller Center, only to find the police waiting. Fry's flight from the officers takes him eventually to the top of the Statue of Liberty, with Martin following all the way at Kane's behest. In the viewing room, she stalls Fry until the police arrive, and Kane, who has been brought along to identify him, dashes away from his police escort long enough to come after Fry, who has now fled to the statue's torch.Kane and Fry face off in the climactic scene. Kane draws a gun and tries to corner Fry, but instead of stopping, Fry tumbles over the low railing on the torch and clings to the Statue's hand. While the police are still trying to find where Kane went, Kane decides to risk his own life by clambering down to save Fry. Kane grabs the wrist of Fry's suitcoat, but the sleeve tears and Fry plummets to his death.
Year of Production: 1942
Length: 108 min.
Country: United States
- Alfred Hitchcock
- Frank Lloyd, Jack H. Skirball, (associate producer)
- Robert Cummings, Priscilla Lane, Otto Kruger, Norman Lloyd