Saboteurs (film)

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German title Saboteurs
Original title saboteur
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1942
length 109 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Alfred Hitchcock
script Peter Quarters ,
Joan Harrison ,
Dorothy Parker
production Frank Lloyd ,
Jack H. Skirball
for Universal Pictures
music Frank Skinner
camera Joseph A. Valentine
cut Otto Ludwig ,
Edward Curtiss

Circus troupe:


Saboteurs is an American thriller . It was shot by Alfred Hitchcock in 1942 based on its own story.


Barry Kane and his best friend Ken Mason work for a California aircraft factory. In an act of sabotage and the resultant fire, Ken is killed, while Barry is held responsible for the act. In order to prove his innocence, he goes in search of the real culprit, the mysterious Frank Fry , who had sneaked into the factory as a worker. He chases Fry across America and at the same time has to hide from the police who are looking for him.

The only clue he knows leads Barry to the ranch owner Charles Tobin, who lives in a villa with a swimming pool and is considered a respected citizen. Tobin openly admits that he is a saboteur who wants to establish a fascist dictatorship in the United States - but this accusation would not be believed the fugitive Kane anyway. He then informs the police that the criminal Kane is on his premises and needs to be arrested. Barry was able to obtain information on Tobin's ranch that Fry has gone to Soda City and continues his escape. He hides from the police in the house of blind Mr. Martin, who welcomes him kindly. Martin's niece, the model Patricia, is less sympathetic to Barry and uses a trick to hand him over to the police. Barry does not put up with this and kidnaps Patricia without further ado, but her car breaks down and both of them have to hike through the desert, temporarily handcuffed to each other.

At night, Barry and Patricia meet a circus group that they recognize as fugitives. After a heated discussion and a democratic vote, the circus people decide to hide Barry and Patricia from the police. Eventually they arrive at Soda City , which turns out to be a ghost town in the desert. Here the saboteurs plan to blow up the Boulder Dam . Barry is discovered by the saboteurs Freeman and Neilson, but can convince them that he is also part of their group. Together with the saboteurs he travels to New York City , where they want to blow up a new ship of the United States Navy . Barry's compelling acting as a saboteur also makes Patricia think that he is really one of them. She asks the local sheriff for help, but he turns out to be corrupt and hands Patricia over to the saboteurs.

Barry attends a fine social party in New York hosted by the wealthy widow Mrs. Sutton, who is also a saboteur. He finds Patricia, who is being held captive, but is exposed when Charles Tobin arrives at Mrs. Sutton's party and recognizes him. Tobin locks Barry in the basement of Mrs. Sutton's mansion, Patricia in an office building at Rockefeller Center . The next morning, the saboteurs devote themselves to their plan to blow up the Navy's new ship when it is christened. Barry escapes his prison with a false fire alarm and sets off for the ship's christening. There nobody else but Frank Fry is sitting at the button to blow up the ship. Barry can engage Fry in a fight so long that Fry can press the detonator after a few seconds. The ship remains intact.

The FBI arrests the saboteurs, including Barry Kane. Meanwhile, Frank Fry escapes, but Patricia now sets out on his trail. In the torch of the Statue of Liberty , she distracts Fry while calling the FBI at the same time. The FBI and Barry finally appear and Fry falls from the observation deck in his panic and can barely hold on. Barry Kane tries to save Fry, but the saboteur's jacket rips and he falls to his death. Barry and Patricia hug.


Hitchcock took over the basic concept of his 1935 film The 39 Steps , which he later took up again in The Invisible Third : The unjustly persecuted hero on a fast-paced escape who is simultaneously the search for evidence of his innocence and the real culprit.

Alfred Hitchcock was contractually bound to the producer David O. Selznick , who did not believe in the film and allowed Hitchcock to work with a producer from Universal ; a decision with consequences, because Hitchcock later separated from Selznick and made fourteen of his most famous films for Universal.

Another peculiarity of Hitchcock - his sense of abysmal humor - is evident in the traveling circus sequence: Compared to normal society, Siamese twins , a bearded lady and a suspicious dwarf named Major Midget (in the German dubbed version, the pun was “greatest Dwarf "lost) the fugitive protection.

It was beneficial for Hitchcock to have escaped the influence of Selznick and his hated long memos with requests for improvement. He could now let his creativity run free. The film has an above-average number of effects and settings and was produced at more than 49 locations.

In a shot in which police officers search the wagons of a traveling circus, people of short stature in police costumes are occupied in the background in order to enhance the illusion of a column that is narrowing in perspective . Hitchcock's trick of filming his actors from over a mile away with a telephoto lens was also innovative.

Furthermore, Hitchcock very often used original landscape photographs as background motifs. After all, they had been at war with Japan and Germany for a few months, and Hollywood had to live with cost restrictions too. For example, newsreel footage was used for the bomb attack on the ship named Alaska in the film while it was being launched. In fact, it is about the launching of the battleship South Dakota on June 7, 1941 in the General Electric shipyard in New York, the most powerful ship in the US fleet after its commissioning.

At the time of filming - on February 9, 1942 - there was a fire on the former French passenger ship Normandie , which was being converted into a troop carrier as the Lafayette in New York , and the ship capsized. When Hitchcock heard about it, he immediately got recordings of the newsreel . He also filmed a scene in which Fry looks contentedly out of a taxi window, and later edited it together with the newsreel footage. In some states, this scene had to be removed due to intervention by the US Navy , as the latter feared that the shipwreck could be mistaken for an act of sabotage by the public. The fact that these are recordings of two different ships - the South Dakota and the Lafayette - as the subject of the attack in the film is difficult to recognize due to the rapid camera pans and fades.

But Hitchcock could not get all of his ideas through. Actually he wanted to cast Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck as lovers and Harry Carey as the main villain Charles Tobin. Robert Cummings and Priscilla Lane were under contract with Universal and were forced on him to star. Harry Carey had to refuse because his wife didn't want him to play a fascist villain. It concerns with saboteurs way, to Hitchcock's first film with All-American occupation.

Parts of the script were written by the writer Dorothy Parker . Their influence is particularly noticeable in the scene with the blind piano player. Its language got a slightly poetic sound. At the same time, Parker, who was considered to be more politically left-wing, was able to put a rather unusual position on patriotism and resistance against wrong-doing authorities in his mouth.

The film gained notoriety for its scenes at New York's Radio City Music Hall and the showdown at the Statue of Liberty.

In Germany the film was only shown in cinemas in 1958.


Hitchcock's own appearance was limited to tinkering with a newspaper stand in front of a drugstore while Barry Kane is arriving in New York City.

Originally he had planned a more elaborate scene: he wanted to walk down a street with his secretary and show her something in sign language, whereupon she should give him a slap. However, the producers refused, fearing that it could be seen as an insult to the disabled.


The German dubbed version was created in 1958 by Berliner Synchron under the direction of Volker Becker.

role actor German Dubbing voice
Patricia Martin Priscilla Lane Inge Estate
Barry Kane Robert Cummings Rainer Brandt
Charles Tobin Otto Kruger Siegfried Schürenberg
Frank Fry Norman Lloyd Harry Wüstenhagen
Mr. Freeman Alan Baxter Klaus Miedel
Mr. Neilson Clem Bevans Gerd Prager
Mrs. Henrietta Sutton Alma Kruger Margarete Schön
Robert, Mrs. Sutton's butler Ian Wolfe Helmuth Grube
Boneman in the circus Pedro de Cordoba Wolfgang Eichberger
Dwarf in the circus Billy Curtis Otto Czarski
Lorelei, bearded lady in the circus Anita Sharp-Bolster Ursula War
Mary-Lee, Siamese twin in the circus Jeanne Romer Edith Hancke
Edward Hans Conried Klaus Schwarzkopf
Small town sheriff Charles Halton Konrad Wagner
Maid Belle Mitchell Ursula Diestel
FBI agent Dick Midgley Benno Hoffmann
Radio announcer (voice only) Kind of Gilmore Jochen Schröder

In some sources other speakers are given for several roles - these all relate to the official cast list of Berliner Synchron, although there were some short-term changes (Wolfgang Kieling was exchanged for Wüstenhagen, Curt Ackermann for Schürenberg and Marion Degler for Landgut) - The reasons for this are not known. This is how the legend of a second dubbed version came about, but it never existed.


“On the face of it, a contribution to political propaganda and intellectual mobilization before the USA entered the war, Hitchcock transforms the subject into a subversive and exciting adventure thriller, which grandly plays off the escape motif and anticipates the main features of ' The Invisible Third ' (1959)."

- Lexicon of international film (CD-ROM edition), Systhema, Munich 1997

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c Robert A. Harris, Michael S. Lasky: Alfred Hitchcock and his films . Ed .: Joe Hembus. Wilhelm Goldmann Verlag, Munich 1976 (original edition).
  2. ^ Biography of Harry Carey at IMDb
  3. ^ Saboteurs at the German synchronous file

Web links