Sabotage is a 1936 film by master director Alfred Hitchcock. This movie, made in Britain four years before Hitch went to Hollywood, is quite eerie when watched from a modern perspective, thanks to its ending which sort of prophesied real life events seventy years later. This film is a part of Force Entertainment’s Hitchcock Collection Volume 2, which can be picked up for around $20 from JB Hifi, although occasionally they have discounted it to just $10.
The films starts quite slowly and mysteriously, as Hitchcock lets us in on the suspicious activities of cinema owner Mr Verloc, his wife and her brother. It seems that Mr Verloc may be a saboteur who was somehow involved in London’s blackout. Mrs Verloc is not wise to her husbands’ activities, although Scotland Yard detective Ted Spencer has the Verlocs and their cinema under observation.
About half way through the film takes a twist, when Verloc’s co-conspirator tells Verloc that he is unhappy with the blackout and wants things to be more destructive. He instructs Verloc to go to collect a bomb to plant into Piccadilly Circus tube station. Verloc protests that he doesn’t want to endanger any human lives, although it seems that he really doesn’t have a choice in the matter. His hope to not hurt human lives seems almost noble, here even though Hitchcock does continue to portray him as the evil foreigner who cannot be trusted throughout the film, however it later seems that this is a facade.
The final portion of the film is the most disconcerting and is what caused Leonard Maltin to dub this as the film in which Hitchcock took things too far. Verloc instruct his wife’s teenage brother Stevie to deliver the bomb to its final destination, due to his discovery that Spencer has him under observation. Verloc does not tell Stevie what he is delivering, and Stevie just assumes that it is a film. All Stevie knows is that the package must be left in the cloak room at Piccadilly by 1.30. Unfortunately for Stevie he is delayed along the way and the bomb explodes while he is on a bus. What happens seems eerily similar to what occurred in London in 2005. Mrs Verloc finds out and ends up killing her husband. Spencer discovers this but declares his love for Mrs Spencer and determines that they should run away, although Mrs Verloc wants to confess.
The bombmaker’s wife finds out that her husband’s bomb blew up the bus and that it may be traced back to him. He is instructed to go to Verloc’s to retrieve the evidence. When he gets there he finds that the police want to arrest him. He also discovers Verloc’s dead body and decides to blow himself up, making it impossible to know that Verloc was dead before the bomb went off.
The film is quite slow in parts and the ending is a little off putting, but I do think that this film is quite enjoyable.
Here is Hitch on the Dick Cavett show discussing Sabotage.