Sabotage is a film whose title is obviously intriguing and gives a good hint at what the film is about.

WHAT HAPPENED?

The film starts with the dictionary definition of ‘Sabotage’, hinting clearly at what the film is about. It then cuts to shots of London and the lights turning off due to a powercut. We soon find out that the powercut was caused by sabotage and that Mr. Verloc (Oskar Homolka) was the saboteur. He thus returns to this cinema which he owns with his wife (Sylvia Sydney) and feigns ignorance claiming to have been napping. We then discover that the friendly grocer next door Ted (John Loder) is in fact not a grocer but an undercover policeman investigating the Verlocs. Ted soon falls for Mrs. Verloc – who is unsuspicious of either mans lies. The narrative takes off as Mr. Verloc is given a bomb but knowing Ted is watching him cannot leave the house to plant it, leading to one of the most shocking scenes and endings of any film I have scene and a scene which will be hard to beat in terms of visual storytelling or shock factor.

THE GOOD

The start of the film with the powercut was extremely interesting and instantly got me asking questions and intrigued by the story, done primarily with the use of sound (angry groans, yelling, car horns) the opening sequence is a nicely crafted piece of cinema.

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The last half hour of the film is fantastic cinema near perfect in several ways. The scene on the bus is a perfect example of Hitchcock’s visual storytelling at its best with cross-fades between the time and the bus and the little boy really building tension and is a must see for any true Hitchcock fan.

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Most of the Hitchcockian moments in the film come in terms of narrative and themes rather than visual style. There is the obvious themes of death and the audience knowing things before the characters which are as usual exploited to build tension and create a real sense of danger throughout the film. 

THE BAD

The pacing of the film is off; the middle of the film is essentially filler with nothing of note really happening, just seemingly pointless dialogue.

There is also no real protagonist for the audience to back in this film as both the male characters do nothing worthy of likeness and Mrs Verloc just comes across as bland.

CAMEO O’CLOCK

Hitchcock does not make a cameo in this film!

FINAL THOUGHTS

Sabotage is a film that is very good at the start, incredible at the end but very dire in the midst (which considering its length is only 75 mins is a real shame). However I found the ending so astounding and memorable that I this film must have 4 Hitchs.

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