“Sabotage!, also released as “The Woman Alone”, is a 1936 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It is based on Joseph Conrad’s novel “The Secret Agent”. It should not be confused with Hitchcock’s film “Secret Agent” released the same year, or his 1942 film “Saboteur”.
Karl Verloc (Oscar Homolka), the owner of a cinema, is part of a gang of terrorists from an unnamed European country who are planning a series of attacks in London. Their exact motives are not made clear. Scotland Yard suspects Verloc’s involvement in the plot and assigns Detective Sergeant Ted Spencer (John Loder) to investigate Verloc, initially under cover. Spencer conducts the investigation posing as a greengrocer’s helper, selling fruit and vegetables in a shop right next to the cinema.
Verloc’s young and beautiful wife (Sylvia Sidney) believes that her husband is a good man because he has been kind to her and her little brother, Stevie (Desmond Tester), who lives with them. However, gradually she comes to suspect that her husband may be one of the people behind the terrorist attacks. The final straw comes when her little brother is killed, along with many other people, when a bus explodes. The boy had thought that he was simply delivering a film canister, but he was unknowingly carrying a time bomb for Verloc, to be detonated in the London Underground station under Piccadilly Circus. The boy had become distracted along the way, which had delayed his delivery, and thus the bomb exploded en route to its final target.
Verloc confesses to his wife, but then blames Scotland Yard and Spencer for Stevie’s death, saying that they were the ones who prevented Verloc from successfully carrying out the bomb delivery himself. Soon afterwards, as Verloc and his wife are preparing to eat dinner, she stabs him to death with a knife. When Spencer arrives to arrest Verloc he realizes what has happened, but insists that she shouldn’t admit that she killed her husband. Nevertheless, she starts to confess her crime to a policeman. Meanwhile, at this very moment, the terrorist bomb maker sneaks into Verloc’s room to retrieve the birdcage that had been used to deliver the bomb out of fear that it might incriminate him. But as the police surround the building, he detonates a bomber-coat he wears in the event he is about to be caught. The explosion and fire interrupts Mrs. Verloc’s confession, destroying all evidence of her crime and effectively preventing the policeman from remembering whether it was before or after the explosion that she told him, “My husband is dead!” At the end we see an uneasy Mrs. Verloc and Ted Spencer walk away together.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, produced by Michael Balcon, Screenplay by Charles Bennett, story by Joseph Conrad, starring Sylvia Sidney, Oskar Homolka, John Loder.
Source: “Sabotage (film)” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. 19 June 2012. Web. 26 July 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabotage_(film).