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HISTORY

In the film, there is some confusion over the fate of the battleship U.S.S. Alaska . After the explosion at the christening, the ship is seen upright, sailing into the harbor; however, as "Frank Fry" makes his escape from the movie theater, his taxi drives by a shipyard in which a battleship is seen lying on its side, and his smile of satisfaction insinuates that this ship is the Alaska .
       According to HR and NYT news items, in Nov 1941, producers Frank Lloyd and Jack Skirball purchased the screenplay for Saboteur , as well as the services of director Alfred Hitchcock, from producer David O. Selznick for $20,000. Modern sources credit Hitchcock with the original story idea for Saboteur . Robert Cummings was cast in the lead role of "Barry Kane" as the first film under a new contract with Universal, while Priscilla Lane was borrowed from Warner Bros. for the role of "Pat Martin." Lane missed the first few weeks of production, however, due to an extended filming schedule on the previous film she had been making, Arsenic and Old Lace (See Entry). In a modern interview, Hitchcock stated that Lane was not his choice for the female lead, and was cast by Lloyd and Skirball without the director's input or approval. According to modern sources, Hitchcock had originally wanted Gary Cooper for the role of "Barry Kane," and Harry Carey in the villainous role of "Charles Tobin." Cooper, however, was unavailable, while Carey turned down the role because his wife objected to him playing a Nazi. Saboteur marked the feature film debut ... More Less

In the film, there is some confusion over the fate of the battleship U.S.S. Alaska . After the explosion at the christening, the ship is seen upright, sailing into the harbor; however, as "Frank Fry" makes his escape from the movie theater, his taxi drives by a shipyard in which a battleship is seen lying on its side, and his smile of satisfaction insinuates that this ship is the Alaska .
       According to HR and NYT news items, in Nov 1941, producers Frank Lloyd and Jack Skirball purchased the screenplay for Saboteur , as well as the services of director Alfred Hitchcock, from producer David O. Selznick for $20,000. Modern sources credit Hitchcock with the original story idea for Saboteur . Robert Cummings was cast in the lead role of "Barry Kane" as the first film under a new contract with Universal, while Priscilla Lane was borrowed from Warner Bros. for the role of "Pat Martin." Lane missed the first few weeks of production, however, due to an extended filming schedule on the previous film she had been making, Arsenic and Old Lace (See Entry). In a modern interview, Hitchcock stated that Lane was not his choice for the female lead, and was cast by Lloyd and Skirball without the director's input or approval. According to modern sources, Hitchcock had originally wanted Gary Cooper for the role of "Barry Kane," and Harry Carey in the villainous role of "Charles Tobin." Cooper, however, was unavailable, while Carey turned down the role because his wife objected to him playing a Nazi. Saboteur marked the feature film debut of Norman Lloyd, a noted New York stage actor who would gain renewed popularity in the 1980s as "Dr. Esterhaus" on the acclaimed television drama St. Elsewhere .
       HR news items state that three different units worked on Saboteur at the same time: Hitchcock with the main unit on a Universal sound stage; 2d unit director Vernon Keays and cinematographer Charles Van Enger shooting exterior footage in Lone Pine, CA; and John Fulton, the head of Universal's special effects department, shooting background footage in New York City with actor Lloyd. Universal press materials also state that some scenes were shot in an Arizona desert.
       HR news items and Universal press materials state that contract player Guy Kibbee turned down the role of "Tobin" because he felt it was "too unsympathetic." John Halliday was cast in Saboteur , but was unable to arrange transportation from his home in Hawaii to Los Angeles in time for the beginning of production, according to Universal press materials. While early HR production charts list Edward Curtiss as the film's editor, Otto Ludwig assumed that position in later charts and received screen credit. Universal press materials also incorrectly credit actress Ann Shoemaker in the role of "Mrs. Mason." According to a NYT obituary of stuntman Russell M. Saunders, Saunders acted as Robert Cummings' stunt double. Hitchcock makes his customary cameo in the film as a man standing in front of a drugstore.
       The film was originally set to premiere in Washington, D.C. on 15 Apr 1942, but the opening was delayed one week due to wartime problems in scheduling a private press train. Along with Hitchcock, Cummings and Lane, the premiere was attended by eighty U.S. Senators, as well as 350 U.S. Congressmen. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 Apr 1942.
---
Daily Variety
19 Dec 1941.
---
Daily Variety
23 Apr 42
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 Apr 42
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Nov 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Dec 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 41
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Dec 41
p. 2, 8
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Jan 42
p. 1, 3
Hollywood Reporter
26 Mar 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Apr 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 42
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
2 May 42
p. 634.
New York Times
1 Feb 1942.
---
New York Times
8 May 42
p. 27.
Variety
29 Apr 42
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Circus Troupe:
Oliver Prickett
Paul E. Burns
Ed Foster
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir, Los Angeles
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2d unit photog, Los Angeles
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Assoc
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus score
SOUND
[Sd] tech
VISUAL EFFECTS
PRODUCTION MISC
Set cont
DETAILS
Release Date:
24 April 1942
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Washington, D.C.: 22 April 1942
Production Date:
17 December 1941--late February 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co., inc.
Copyright Date:
29 April 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11248
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
108
Length(in feet):
9,785
Country:
United States
PCA No:
8268
SYNOPSIS

Munitions worker Barry Kane is falsely accused of setting fire to the Stuarts Aircraft Factory in Los Angeles, a fire that caused the death of his best friend, Ken Mason. Barry realizes that the real saboteur is Frank Fry, the man who handed him a fire extinguisher, which turned out to be full of gasoline. Remembering that Fry had an envelope addressed to him from the Deep Springs Ranch in Springfield, California, Barry goes there to find the killer, but the ranch's owner, Charles Tobin, tells him that he does not know Fry. Tobin's granddaughter, however, hands Barry a telegram addressed to Tobin from Fry stating that Fry is going to Soda City. Although Tobin has Barry arrested, Barry manages to escape from the police by jumping off a bridge. He then seeks refugee from a rainstorm in the home of blind composer Philip Martin. His sanctuary is invaded by the arrival of Martin's niece, New York model Patricia Martin, and though Philip senses Barry's innocence, Pat attempts to turn him over to the police. The fugitive is then forced to abduct her, and when their car breaks down in the California desert, Barry and Pat hitch a ride with a circus troupe. Later, they arrive in the ghost town of Soda City, which, they discover, is the hideout of saboteurs Freeman and Neilson. Barry is able to convince the killers that he is one of them, so Freeman offers him safe passage to New York City. Pat is convinced of Barry's duplicity as well, so she goes to the police. Once in New York, Freeman takes Barry to the mansion ... +


Munitions worker Barry Kane is falsely accused of setting fire to the Stuarts Aircraft Factory in Los Angeles, a fire that caused the death of his best friend, Ken Mason. Barry realizes that the real saboteur is Frank Fry, the man who handed him a fire extinguisher, which turned out to be full of gasoline. Remembering that Fry had an envelope addressed to him from the Deep Springs Ranch in Springfield, California, Barry goes there to find the killer, but the ranch's owner, Charles Tobin, tells him that he does not know Fry. Tobin's granddaughter, however, hands Barry a telegram addressed to Tobin from Fry stating that Fry is going to Soda City. Although Tobin has Barry arrested, Barry manages to escape from the police by jumping off a bridge. He then seeks refugee from a rainstorm in the home of blind composer Philip Martin. His sanctuary is invaded by the arrival of Martin's niece, New York model Patricia Martin, and though Philip senses Barry's innocence, Pat attempts to turn him over to the police. The fugitive is then forced to abduct her, and when their car breaks down in the California desert, Barry and Pat hitch a ride with a circus troupe. Later, they arrive in the ghost town of Soda City, which, they discover, is the hideout of saboteurs Freeman and Neilson. Barry is able to convince the killers that he is one of them, so Freeman offers him safe passage to New York City. Pat is convinced of Barry's duplicity as well, so she goes to the police. Once in New York, Freeman takes Barry to the mansion of society woman Mrs. Henrietta Sutton, where Pat is now being held by the saboteurs. Tobin then arrives and declares that his operation has been exposed by Pat's uncle and that Barry is not a part of their operation. As the fifth columnists discuss their plans to kill Barry and Pat, the two sneak into Mrs. Sutton's society ball. After Pat is snatched away from him, however, Barry is forced to turn himself over to Tobin. The next day, the saboteurs, posing as newsreel photographers, plot to blow up the battleship U.S.S. Alaska during its christening at the Brooklyn naval yards. Barry manages to escape from the Sutton mansion by setting off the fire alarm, and he stops Fry and the other saboteurs from blowing up the battleship, though the dock itself is destroyed. The saboteurs then take Barry back to their skyscraper hideout, where the police await them, as Pat had managed to escape herself and get help. Fry escapes to a nearby movie theater, but Barry is unable to convince the police to go after him, so Pat follows the saboteur to the Statue of Liberty. There, she calls the FBI and they rush to the monument with Barry. Barry chases Fry to the statue's torch, where the saboteur slips into the statue's hand and clings desperately to the giant palm. Barry tries to save him, but when the hem of Fry's jacket sleeve tears, the murderer is sent plunging to his death. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.