An American Journey to Hitchcock in Antebellum

The movie was released in theaters in 1942, just as the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor

times of war. Even eighty years ago, when Alfred Hitchcock’s fifth American film was released (or sixth, depending on whether you want to consider the UK-US co-production “La taverna della Jamaica”), when Alfred Hitchcock’s fifth American film was shown before Eighty years old, in American theaters on April 22, 1942, 1939, as the first) at that time dedicated to entertainment with anti-Nazi subtexts. Filmed just as the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor and oddly similar in title to one of the pinnacles of his English production (“Sabotage”, 1939, noir with a fantastic bomb sequence), “The Vandals” is a thriller born from an original story by the director (co-written by Dorothy Parker, Joan Harrison, Peter Fertel), and starring worker Barry Kane (Robert Cummings), is wrongly accused of boycott by the California aircraft factory where he works, and thus forced to flee in a desperate attempt to find the real saboteur.

The culprit turned out to be Frank Fry (Norman Lloyd), who acts on behalf of a Fifth Column (whose goal is to organize activities to disrupt the American war effort) whose leads are pulled by the evil Charles Tobin (Otto Krueger). While escaping, Kane finds shelter in the home of a blind man (Vaughan Glaser) who introduces him to his daughter Patricia (Priscilla), who, before being convinced of his innocence, tries to hand him over to the police. Barry will only be able to prove his innocence in New York after the two face a long and dangerous journey from West to East Coast, in the emblematic place of American values: the Statue of Liberty.

Given that there’s always a good reason to keep going In memory of Alfred Hitchcock, however, the “Saboteurs” cannot be said to be part of a group of great masterpieces to which the master accustomed audiences around the world early in the following year (“Shadow of Doubt”, 1943; which followed in the forties little something such as “I Will Save You”, “The Notorious – The Lost Lover” and “The Paradine Affair”). However, as it often happens with “minor” Hitchcocks, it’s a movie that manages to light up individual memorable moments even though the score is less than the sum of the extras.

In this case, ignore the fact that it is at the level of the plot All ‘demonstrative’ mechanics quite distinctly descend from ‘Young and Innocent’ or ‘The 39 Club’, a long chain of influence chains capable of surviving engraved in memory beyond the fleeting time of purely narrative resolution; From the elegance of the primary forms of fire with the black smoke of fire slowly occupying and swallowing the whole picture to the separator on the edge of the hideous with strange whims leading in the circus caravan from which the couple sets off, from the unusual sequence in the movie theater where the footage of the projected film intermingles with the real shots of the action to the end The magnificent at the top of the Statue of Liberty (reconstructed in the studio from the excellent collections of Sir Jack Utterson, and is unique in the history of the Academy Awards for having received eight consecutive nominations, none of which unfortunately turned out to be an award).

But the “saboteurs” despite its productive economy Almost like B-Movie, it’s also a long ride across America (almost in full location, an extravagance for a director like Hitchcock who has always been — and always will be — soundstages); America recorded and observed from an unmistakable “other” look, first in the deep counties (Glendale from the start; Utah Springville where Kane meets Tobin on his farm; deserted streets in Alabama Hills; Colorado’s Hoover Dam in an abandoned mine the conspirators planned a new offensive) and then In New York already the “Big Apple” since the 1920s, captured in its architectural and symbolic grandeur (Brooklyn shipyards, Rockefeller Center, the majestic Radio City Music Hall and finally – impressively … – the Statue of Liberty); All beautifully portrayed by the good Joseph A. Valentine (later Oscar in 1950 for “Joan of Arc” by Victor Fleming).

But not only that: It’s a movie in which Hitchcock, in hindsight, It deals perfectly with horror (the sequence of the cute blind man who seems to be the only one who doesn’t “see” Barry as a criminal is definitely an offshoot of meaning to the parable in “Frankenstein’s Wife” where the occasional friend of the “monster” is a blind, non-“judicial” hermit and in a sort of The rehearsal (almost twenty years ago) of the massive International Intrigue, which he shares in addition to the escape characters also symbolically ends in the labyrinth of a representative monument of the United States.Without forgetting that although it is not a ostentatious “political” act, it exudes a derivative atmosphere. Wholly from the contemporary pre-war climate that conceals more than a reflection on the contradiction between totalitarianism and democracies and on the stifling of individual freedom.

Screen engraving fans can “hitch” Here he can count on two forms: in the first he disguises himself as a cowboy (with a moustache) and in the second he stands in front of the newsstand section of a pharmacy. Legend has it that the latter should have been another, and then ended up under the bonds of censorship: the one in which the director and his then-secretary appeared under the guise of two deaf-mute walkers, with the abuse of sign language seeming to make an inappropriate show, which responded He slapped him in the face.

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