How does someone as creepy as Oscar Homolka marry someone as adorable as Sylvia Sidney - it's an awkward looking marriage.
I love the behaviors so far, the way people complain, the keenness of Mrs. Verloc noticing her husband's disinterest in a near family business failure, the son breaking a plate and chewing food that's too hot.
There's no motion to mislead us - Verloc is introduced as the saboteur with heightened music and all, a bit ridiculous. He's immediately suspected. This is either a) how will they catch him? or b) are they fucking with us? kind of story. One thing we're definitely asking: why? We soon learn there's a conspiracy, another man putting him up to this, possibly part of a larger organization. He's paying him, but not until he sees better results. The dialogue is done in one shot with their backs turned to the camera, closing us off from the larger answers - I like what it represents, but it is dull to look at. Followed by this is a superimposition of Verloc's movie screen melting over the aquarium - looks super trippy for this era.
Brilliant cut when she's on her way to police station and thinks she sees Stevie running at her - she grabs him, cut to reverse angle, it's another boy. Before that she sees a mirror image of herself, a woman being taken in by police.
Spoiler alert from here on.
Hitchcock does provide tension in the pivotal sequence where, because of police surveillance, Homolka is forced to send the young boy out to deliver a package containing a bomb. He emphasizes the importance of getting to his destination by 1:30, knowing the bomb is set to go off at 1:45, but of course the boy doesn't know that and ends up being delayed on his way (comically being dragged into a demonstration by a peddler of toothpaste and shampoo at one point). While we feel the suspense, Hitchcock as a younger director exercises no restraint at all, melodramatically increasing the volume of the music and showing us the time on clocks repeatedly as it gets closer and closer to 1:45.
To Hitchcock's credit (or Joseph Conrad's, the author of the story) the bomb does go off, and it is a little shocking even today. Imagine what the reaction was like in 1936 to have an innocent boy, one moment playing with a puppy on a bus, the next minute gone, along with all of the other passengers. The shock presages other Hitchcock moments, such as the shower scene in Psycho. Unfortunately, in the wake of this, the emotional reaction of the characters doesn't ring true, though it does lead to what I think was the best scene in the movie - the mother thinking her son is running towards her on the street, which for a split second has us somehow believing, as she does, that he's survived.
Watch it for the bomb scene and for Sylvia Sidney, but it's certainly not a classic.
This is a sensational thriller about a couple that run a cinema in London & although she is unaware her husband is plotting to Sabotage London & create terror in the streets with a criminal mastermind.
The film unravels so well & you as viewer journey with the wife to identify her husbands evil motives. The visuals & tension are second to none. It's engaging & perfectly directed, a must see early Hitch .