The opening scene of Saboteur (1942), one of Alfred Hitchcock’s earliest American films, features an astonishing long shot of a group of workers exiting a California airplane plant; the image resembles a darkened, blown-up version of the Lumière brothers’ 1895 Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory. In the next scene, the plant is engulfed in flames, and Barry Kane (Robert Cummings) — an innocent man — will be accused of starting the fire. The movie adopts a classic Hitchcockian wrong-man storyline, with Kane and a conflicted female companion (Priscilla Lane) traversing the country in an attempt to clear his name. As a warm-up for North by Northwest, Saboteur falls short, largely because Cummings is clearly no Cary Grant. But Hitchcock’s ability to exploit national monuments (Boulder Dam, the Statue of Liberty) for cinematic effect is already in full bloom.
Thu., Feb. 27, 1:15, 4 & 8:15 p.m., 2014