Saboteur (Frank Lloyd; Universal) is one hour and 45 minutes of almost simon-pure melodrama from the hand of the master: bejowled, Buddha-ball Director Alfred Hitchcock (The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, Rebecca, etc.), whose guileless countenance and cherubic demeanor mask a talent for scaring hell out of cinema audiences.
Saboteur's ingredients are not uncommon, but Master Hitchcock deals them out in a sinister manner that makes them appear so. The story is concerned with the efforts of a Pacific Coast aircraft-factory mechanic (Robert Cummings) to track down the man (Norman Lloyd) who set fire to the plant. That is not easy, for Cummings himself is mistakenly wanted by the police as the saboteur.
A melodramatic journey from coast to coast shows Hitchcock at his best. It gives movement, distance and a terrifying casualness to his painful suspense. It leads the hero to the palatial Nevada ranch of the master saboteur (Otto Kruger), into the hands of the police, out of them to an abandoned desert mining town loaded with paraphernalia to blow up Boulder Dam, on to Manhattan and an ironic denouement. The Girl (Priscilla Lane), of course, is picked up en route.
Hitchcock, who admits to a liking for murder amid babbling brooks, steps up the excitement of his picture by deftly under stating his saboteurs' characters. One (Alan Baxter), a nice chap who might be an accountant, amiably discusses his children and their future with Cummings, who has passed himself off as a ring member.
Another, guarding blonde Miss Lane in a sky-high Rockefeller Center office, earnestly observes: "I hope we can get rid of her soon. I promised to take my kid sister to the Philharmonic."
These artful touches serve another purpose which is only incidental to Saboteur's melodramatic intent. They warn Americans, as Hollywood has so far failed to do, that fifth columnists can be outwardly clean and patriotic citizens, just like themselves. Saboteur Kruger is rich, respected, likable, candidly admits that he is for the Axis because he wants a more profitable type of U.S. government.
Nicely pointed sequence: Case-hardened Saboteur Lloyd, taxi-bound for evil doings at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, observes the foundered Normandie at her Hudson River pier, indulges in a slow, sly, satisfied smile as the wounded liner passes from view.
In This Our Life (Warner) is billed as a cineversion of Ellen Glasgow's novel about an ineffectual Southern aristocrat who has lost his money but not his manners. Picture and book have only one thing in common: the title. The film's story is much more like The Little Foxes.
The hardworking, competent cast is too high-powered for the picture. Long-suffering Bette Davis, in bangs and a short bob, is the attractive, spoiled, egomaniacal daughter of a man (Frank Craven) whose uncle-in-law (Charles Coburn) stole his business. Sister Olivia de Havilland is pretty sure she won't get a chance at happiness until big sister is disposed of.