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Author Topic: Sabotage (1936)  (Read 409 times)
Matt
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« Reply #20 on: October 13, 2018, 05:52:44 PM »

On the other hand, "Wear.," in Variety (March 3, 1937) ...

I agree with this review. Wish I could write a review like that.
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Matt
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« Reply #21 on: October 13, 2018, 05:59:50 PM »



Finally, from "Alfred Hitchcock on his Films: Interview with Huw Whelden," originally published in The Listener, August 6, 1964, 18990:

Quote
I don't think many people want reality, whether it is in the theatre or in a film. It must look real, but it must never be real, because reality is something none of us can stand, at any time.



Thanks for posting these KC.  I especially like that last bit -- that's pretty heavy. This scene seems so tame now (though still shocking), compared to the "reality" we've gotten used to in modern films.
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Matt
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« Reply #22 on: October 13, 2018, 06:06:12 PM »

I tried to watch this yesterday, and I couldn't get through it. It didn't hold my interest at all. I watched it for about a half an hour, which given the short runtime, was almost half the movie, and it wasn't immediately clear to me what the plot of the movie even was or who the main characters were that I was supposed to be caring about. Very disappointing.

I don't really blame you for giving up on this one. But, the second half is better and makes the film worthwhile. But, the film does look and feel its age.
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KC
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« Reply #23 on: October 13, 2018, 11:59:59 PM »

I watched Sabotage last night and found it very absorbing. (Remember, I'd seen it before, and was already more than familiar with the "big shocker," so I was free to concentrate on other aspects.) I have quite a lot to say about it, but I don't know if I'll find the time or patience to type out everything. For now, just a few points.

1) If this film were being released today, it would surely be titled Terror or The Terrorists. Wreaking havoc at the heart of a great city, killing dozens of innocent people ... we are all too familiar with these tactics in today's world. Oh, and using children as the courier for explosives. (Maybe it wasn't the original plan of the "saboteurs" to blow up a bus with the child courier on board, but that was the result, and it's something we've come to expect will happen today with relentless frequency.

2) This movie is over-the-top meta. One of the most self-conscious of directors makes a movie with at its heart ... a movie theater. The theater is inextricably connected to the domestic life of the central characters: Verloc owns it, his wife mans the box office, and you can't get to their living quarters without passing through it. We're constantly reminded that these people (like Hitchcock) depend for their livelihood on pleasing people watching movies. If they are displeased ... if they ask for their money back, as people did in the opening scene, the characters lose their livelihood. And yet the movie story Hitchcock chooses to tell is one that DID displease audiences, to the point where many were, if not asking for their money back, at least publicly venting their anger towards the director.

3) And what are the movies that please audiences? On the evidence of what we see here, mostly movies about ... murder. (Bartholomew the Strangler, for example.) Certainly by this time audiences expected the pleasure of a good murder mystery from the average Hitchcock movie. But the killings that happen in this one will mostly make audiences profoundly uneasy: first the explosion on the bus, which Hitchcock himself admitted violated the usual pact filmmakers make with the audience, and then the sudden stabbing of Verloc by the very sympathetic female lead, and her deeply troubled reaction to her own act of violence.

4) The birds. The Birds! Of course, in 1937 Hitchcock would have no way of knowing that almost three decades later he'd make a movie in which he would cast birds as actual terrorists (or "saboteurs"), but their role in this film is interesting enough. The bombmaker, like Verloc, leads a double life, and like Verloc, his two lives are intertwined. Verloc passes through his movie theater to his domestic quarters, where he plans acts of sabotage. The bombmaker passes through his bird shop, where he sells happily singing canaries to lonely people wanting a companion, to his domestic quarters, where he keeps bombmaking ingredients in ordinary containers in an ordinary cabinet, so ordinary that he doesn't at first notice that his granddaughter's doll has found a place there. When he delivers a bomb to Verloc, it comes with a pair of cheery canaries in a cage, a present for young Stevie, already doomed as he whistles to his new feathered friends.

Then after the explosion, when Mrs. Verloc has realized her husband is responsible for the death of Stevie and the others on the bus, after his weak attempt to justify himself to her, she rushes past the canaries in the cage, out of the apartment and into the theater, where people are enjoying a Disney cartoon. She sits down in the audience and begins laughing too. We hear whistling, and see what's on the screen ... cartoon birds. Mrs. Verloc keeps on laughing with the others, until one of the birds is pierced by an arrow and falls out of the tree. It's "Who killed Cock Robin?" another murder story.

More to come, I hope, on the topic of "A Woman Alone."
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KC
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« Reply #24 on: October 14, 2018, 12:01:24 AM »

PS, AKA, if you're not clear on who the main characters are (in any film of this era, not just Hitchcock) ... look for the ones who get the most closeups.
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