Saboteur Review

Saboteur movie posterSynopsis
When Barry Kane (Robert Cummings) is framed for sabotage, he sets out to prove his innocence.

Review
If you follow me on Twitter, you will know that I set a movie goal for 2021. If you don’t follow me on Twitter, well, now you know that I set a movie goal for 2021 (but also you should go follow me on Twitter *wink wink*). That goal is to watch twelve Alfred Hitchcock films throughout the year; that’s roughly one a month for you math wizzes. The first in that endeavor is Hickcock’s 1942 film Saboteur.

When I hear the name “Hitchcock,” the first thought that comes to mind is “suspense.” And the kind of suspense I think about is the horror brand of suspense. Not being well-versed in Hitchcock’s films, that was much too narrow of thought. While I wouldn’t call Saboteur “suspenseful,” I would call it “exciting.” This film did a great job of not letting the audience know anymore than Barry (Robert Cummings) about what the larger picture was. Maybe I’m used to the quick cuts of today’s cinema but the way the characters and scenes were framed made things tense and dramatic. It wasn’t the type of suspense I was expecting from a Hitchcock film but it kept me on edge nonetheless.

Something that I didn’t expect were how big some of the smaller scenes felt. For example, there is a scene were Barry meets a man named Philip Martin, played by Caughan Glaser. For most of the scene, it’s just the two of them, before Philip’s niece Pat (Priscilla Lane) enters the scene. Even though scenes like this are quieter, there is still an element of suspense to them. But more than that, they had a larger context within the story, fleshing out characters and relationships.

Speaking of relationships, Cummings and Lane were such a great pair. The two of them had a natural chemistry that made their scenes enjoyable to watch. The relationship between Barry and Pat felt a bit forced at times but luckily Cummings and Lane made it feel less out of place.

Besides the two leads, another standout performance was Otto Kruger as the villainous Charles Tobin. Some of the most terrifying villains are the ones who do not look like villains on the surface and Kruger played into that role wonderfully. He was just the right mix of suave and charm with malice and menace. You never knew exactly what he was thinking or what he was planning until it was too late.

After I finished watching the movie, I watched some of the special features on the disk. In one of the featurettes, it described how some of the special effects for the film were achieved. I think special effects are something we take for granted these days, or at least I do, with everything being done on the computer these days. I tend to forget that back in the early days, directors and cinematographers had to get creative to accomplish effects that would be simple these days. And watching and learning how it was done in this film gave me a greater appreciation in how movies were created before CGI came along.

Throughout the film, “the organization” is constantly referenced. We even meet several of the leaders of the organization in Charles Tobin and Mrs. Sutton (Alma Kruger). Tobin also explains what their plan is that Barry stumbles onto. However, there is no explanation given as to why or what the organization’s overall goal is. Given the film’s early World War II setting, it could be inferred it has something to do with assisting the Axis powers but no real details are provided. It is left very vague. Although, maybe that was the point?

I thought Saboteur was GOOD 🙂 As my first dip into Hitchcock’s work (well, my second, I watched Birds years ago), it was exciting to open my eyes to the depth of Hitchcock’s abilities. While not the suspense I was expected, I was captivated nevertheless. Robert Cummings and Priscilla Lane carry the film with fantastic performances, and Otto Kruger keeps pace as the villain across Cummings and Lane. While I would have liked to learn more about “the organization,” their anonymity and mystery give another layer of suspense to the film. All in all, not a bad start to my journey through Hitchcock’s filmography.

Trivia
This was the first movie in which Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s name was billed above the title. (via IMDb)

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Alfred Hitchcock – Director
Peter Viertel – Screenplay
Joan Harrison – Screenplay
Dorothy Parker – Screenplay
Frank Skinner – Composer

Robert Cummings – Barry Kane
Priscilla Lane – Patricia (Pat) Martin
Otto Kruger – Charles Tobin
Alan Baxter – Freeman
Clem Bevans – Neilson
Norman Lloyd – Frank Fry
Alma Kruger – Mrs. Henrietta Sutton
Caughan Glaser – Philip Martin
Dorothy Peterson – Mrs. Mason


There is still a week left to join the Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021. For all the details, check out the announcement post.

The Little Things Review

The Little Things movie posterSynopsis
Former Los Angeles detective and current Kern County deputy sheriff Joe Deacon (Denzel Washington) returns to LA to pick up some evidence. While there, he notices similarities between one of his unsolved cases and a current case being investigated by Detective Jim Baxter (Rami Malick). Deacon teams up with Baxter to solve the case.

Review
A good psychological thriller will find a hook that gets you into the story then won’t let you go and keep you on the edge of your seat the whole way through. The Little Things manages to do just that. The film finds new ways to pull you in as it goes on, adding new wrinkles to the story, providing new revelations and tension. It manages to keep a good mystery and paces itself well for the most part. As the mystery deepens and more is revealed, we the audience have just as much information and as many details as the characters on screen have, making the story more engaging as we are trying to solve the case at the same time as Joe Deacon (Denzel Washington) and Detective Jim Baxter (Rami Malek). For the majority of the film, the lens is on the the three leading men of Washington, Malek, and Jared Leto. Together, they carry the film expertly and naturally play off each other. Leto in particular was fantastic and easily the stand out of the trio. As is typical in this type of story, the movie is a bit of a slow burn, and as such it feels like it can drag out at times. The cryptic ending doesn’t wrap things up as much as expected but at the same time, it leaves the resolution open to interpretation, which feels fitting for this film.

I thought The Little Things was GOOD 🙂 It’s easy to find similarities between this film and other crime psychological thrillers, but it does everything it’s supposed to do. An engaging story and a core cast that’s at the top of their game provide thrills right up until the very end.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
John Lee Hancock – Director / Writer
Thomas Newman – Composer

Denzel Washington – Joe ‘Deke’ Deacon
Rami Malek – Jim Baxter
Jared Leto – Albert Sparma
Chris Bauer – Detective Sal Rizoli
Michael Hyatt – Flo Dunigan
Terry Kinney – LASD Captain Carl Farris
Natalie Morales – Detective Jamie Estrada
Isabel Arraiza – Ana Baxter
Joris Jarsky – Detective Sergeant Rogers
Glenn Morshower – Captain Henry Davis
Sofia Vassilieva – Tina Salvatore


There is still plenty of time to join the Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2021. For all the details, check out the announcement post.