Saturday, April 3, 2010

Those Are Not For Suzi, Those Are For The Gentleman

I've been meaning to do a full-scale piece on Saboteur, probably Hitchcock's most underrated film (nobody, not even the French critics who liked Topaz, has ever to my knowledge mounted a defense of it) and sort of an intriguingly off-key minor masterpiece, but as exams come, and then the week after that I'll be working for a judge on the Third Circuit, I don't know if I'll have the time. So in the meantime I wanted to leave you with these frames. Saboteur is one of Hitchcock's many wrong man thrillers (a crime is charged to the wrong man), though it's not very thrilling and we never feel much sympathy for the wrong man. In this scene, the wrong man is arrested at the home of the right man, the titular saboteur. As the right man, the bad man, exchanges smarmy pleasantries with the police, his baby granddaughter reaches to the handcuffs on the wrong man's wrists, as if to remove them, and begins to cry. To which the bad man creepily says, "no Suzi, those are not for Suzi. Those are for the gentleman," as he gives an evil look at the wrong man. It strikes me these images are among Hitchcock's most powerful and haunting of evil, injustice, but most interestingly, and this is a theme that comes up throughout the film, a kind of intuitive, innate sense (here on the baby's part) of right and wrong. Which raises really interesting questions as to how this Rousseauvian belief in man's innate decency fits into a filmography that's generally been seen as putting forth a pretty pessimstic and dark view of humanity.

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