Not to be confused with Hitchcock’s 1942 film Saboteur… this 1936 picture (Hitchcock as well) is also quite excellent. My fav of Hitch’s old period is without a doubt The Lady Vanishes, however this is definitely a rising fav of the bunch.
Starring Sylvia Sidney, Oskar Homolka, and John Loder, this movie was ironically adapted from Joseph Conrad’s novel The Secret Agent but the title, however, was not used since Hitchcock’s Secret Agent was already in production. Mr. Verloc (Homolka) owns a local theater with his wife (Sidney). When the power goes out throughout the town, Mr. Verloc suspiciously returns from an unknown journey yet lies to his wife at having ever left his bedroom. Other characters include Sylvia’s younger brother, Stevie (Desmond Tester), and the Scotland Yard detective disguised as the grocer next door (Loder). As we observe Mr. Verloc’s activity and we find him more and more connected with plans for sabotage, his devoted wife suspects nothing. That is until her brother gets blown up into a bajillion pieces… The scene that follows between husband and wife was so masterfully suspensful – I tensed up as much as if it were Psycho.
Another very well-filmed moment was the Hitchcockian way in which the camera zoomed and held its picture on the reel of film, a technique seen in so many others (the glass of milk in Suspicion, the briefcase in Topaz to name a few). I could watch this film several more times, it is full of masterfully created moments. Overall I thought it had excellent cinematography, a good cast (particularly Sylvia Sidney), and a suspensful plot. Worth the watch to all Hitch lovers. 8/10
p.s. Be sure to take note of the birds in this film… another Hitch trademark.