Saboteur

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I’m afraid we’re not behaving very well…

 

I've been on a bit of a hiatus although not a completely inactive one. I watched Saboteur a few weeks back now and have only just gotten round to writing about it. In the mean-time I've been on holiday and suffered the usual fortnight of overworking in advance to compensate for it!

Whilst away though I did have the pleasure of reading the short story The Birds by Daphne Du Maurier (which I've already reviewed the film for) and also the film classics library version of Psycho which I will be reviewing next (as I've already seen the film in this case).

I've also really gotten into Daphne Du Maurier's style of writing and found a lot of her short stories that accompany The Birds to be very gripping. Particularly The Little Photographer which I was surprised to see has never been made into any kind of movie or short film. Maybe that's one to add to my list then!

Review

 

This very much felt like a film about trust and picking sides. All throughout the film, every character that Barry Kane (Robert Cummings) meets seems to make a very deliberate and clear choice about whether or not they trust him and those judgements are not always necessarily based on evidence, just each persons own intuition, which in all honesty reflects how the majority of our minds work anyway.

I particularly liked the political way in which the circus freaks come to a conclusion as to wether or not they should hand Kane over to the police also. The twins being at odds, their vote cancels itself out. The tall man and short man disagree and therefore also cancel each other out, tatanya (I can't remember what her freakshow ability was!) see's both the good and bad and so cancels herself out, leaving just the bearded lady to make the final decision. That's democracy I suppose. A group of people cancelling one another out until one or a small group of people are left in agreement, but all parties respecting the outcome. Or is it just jeering every Wednesday afternoon? I can't remember to be honest…

The only person who really seems at odds throughout the film is the heroine (played by Priscilla Lane), Patricia (another name I am sure I keep hearing come up in Hitchcock films, which would make sense considering his daughter) who Kane spends a large part of the film trying to gain the trust of. Whilst it may seem awkward of her to be like this, seeing in from the outside of the film, she is actually being fairly rational considering what she does and doesn't know. Although many of the other characters are trusting of Kane and help him on his way in some form or another, they are only really projections of what we, the audience, already know to be true.

As a closing note, this has actually been one of my favourite Hitchcock, and old black and white films in general, to date. It's surprising that it's not rated as highly as others, perhaps because it does feel like an American retelling of the 39 steps (some people always get funny about that kind of thing). It also contains one of the most captivating scenes I've ever watched and could happily watch again in isolation of the whole movie. On the ballroom floor, when Barry and Patricia are trapped by their hosts but playing along so as not to alert the other guests, they have a conversation where they reveal their feelings for one another in a beautifully honest but equally hopeless way and Barry declares that no matter what happens next, nobody can take this moment away from them… and then, dot, dot, dot…!

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