review for Saboteur on AllMovie

Saboteur (1942)
by Patrick Legare review

Alfred Hitchcock's Saboteur is a stellar suspense film that the director considered an American version of The 39 Steps. However, the film it is most reminiscent of is Hitchcock's 1959 smash North by Northwest, which also featured an innocent man framed for a crime, who leads a cross-country chase that ends on a national monument. Filled with thrills, laughs, and romance, Saboteur is an exceptional picture whose only fault lies in its weak lead actors. Hitchcock initially lobbied for Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck and Harry Carey as the three stars, but Universal went with Robert Cummings, Priscilla Lane, and Norman Lloyd, who stands out in his role as the devious saboteur. Other characters include Otto Kruger as the crooked tycoon behind the terrorism, Vaughan Glaser as the kindly blind man, and Murray Alper as a helpful trucker; all add a wonderful dimension to the film. Much of its success can also be attributed to Dorothy Parker's superb script, which takes Cummings' character on a wild adventure into fantastic locations. Standout sequences include the disturbing opening act of sabotage, a daring escape scene in which Cummings leaps into a river à la Harrison Ford in The Fugitive, an incredible movie theater scene in which onscreen gunfire turns shockingly real, a lavish party scene in which Cummings and Lane are seemingly trapped, and the classic climax in which Cummings and Lloyd dangle precipitously from the Statue of Liberty. Technically, the film is strikingly lighted and shot and is backed by an excellent Frank Skinner score. The director's traditional cameo takes place at a newsstand.