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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Friday, October 01, 2010

Hitchcock Month - Sabotage

Sabotage (1936)
Starring Sylvia Sidney, Oskar Homolka, John Loder, and Desmond Tester
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
***Currently streaming on Netflix*** 

Sabotage is one of Hitchcock's earlier films produced before the big man made the move to Hollywood.  I'll be honest.  I wasn't expecting much.  I must say I was pleasantly surprised.

Taking place in London in (I'd assume) the 1930s, there is a gang of criminals -- saboteurs, if you will -- on the loose and the police want to catch them before they wreak havoc on the government and its people.  One of their suspects (and rightly so as we discover in the first scene of the film) is the owner of the local cinema named Karl Verloc.  Verloc is married to the lovely young American, Sylvia, who lives in a house behind the theater with her younger brother, Stevie.  Sylvia and Stevie suspect nothing of Verloc.  However, she and her husband soon discover that Sylvia's friend, Ted, is actually a detective keeping a watchful eye over the supposed threat.

Right from the get-go, the audience knows that Verloc is a bad guy.  We see him sabotaging the electric supply of the city causing the town to go dark for several hours.  When his bosses deem that crime too simple, he is given the task of setting off a bomb in a train station.  Will he be able to carry out the task?  Will Ted be able to convince Sylvia of her husband's wrongdoings?

I was quite surprised at how suspenseful this little flick is.  Running at a taut 75 minutes, little time is spent on fleshing out the characters.  In the end, that's a little bit of a detriment (the burgeoning love affair between Sylvia and Ted is presented much too instantaneously to be the least bit believable), but I'm amazed at Hitch's deft hand at work here.  From camera angles to the use of shadows, Hitch proves he was a master even in his early years.  There's a set piece with Stevie riding a bus that is quite nerve-wracking and Hitch knows just the right cuts and set-ups to elevate the tension.

Overall, I was quite impressed with this little flick.  Granted, it's nothing overly special, but it was much better than I ever expected it to be and proves to be a good start to this month-long excursion.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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