Often cited as Hitchcock’s cruellest film before Psycho, this unnerving suspense thriller is “ripe for re-evaluation as the masterpiece of Hitchcock’s British period” (Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader). An adaptation and update of Joseph Conrad's novel The Secret Agent (Hitchcock’s previous feature, confusingly enough, was titled The Secret Agent, but had been based on Somerset Maugham, not Conrad), Sabotage is set in the shabby London milieu of Hitchcock’s childhood. American Sylvia Sidney and Austrian Oscar Homolka star as a young married couple who operate a neighbourhood movie theatre; unbeknownst to her, he’s a sinister foreign agent — and he has absolutely no qualms about using her trusting young brother (child actor Desmond Tester) to further his terrorist ends. Sabotage's most notorious (and fearless) sequence features the boy, a bus, and a time bomb. Sabotage has been called "Hitchcock's most obviously autobiographical film" (Patrick Humphries) and "just about the best of his English thrillers" (Pauline Kael). “This 1936 study of murderous intimacy is as harrowing as anything in Hitchcock, and it’s one of his few films to comment directly on the movies” (Kehr). B&W, 35mm. 76 mins.
"A masterly exercise in suspense."New York Times | full review
"One of the most playful of Hitchcock's British thrillers."Time Out | full review