Abstract of “Propaganda in Saboteur”

Saboteur (1942)

This paper highlights some of the inadequacies of the film, foremost, its unoriginality. It features a plot structure that is featured in many of Hitchcock’s films, that of an falsely-accused man seeking to prove his innocence, and more specifically, the film bears more similarity to The 39 Steps (1935) of all the films that exhibit that plot structure. The police are as harshly depicted as in any other Hitchcock film despite the argued purpose of the film, to boost morale, and facilitate the ousting of criminal agents that threaten national security. In this regard, a major theme of the film is deceptive appearances. Because the promotion of patriotic ideals takes precedence over plot and character development, Saboteur can be classified as a propaganda film. Various motivations for producing a propaganda film are suggested. The film’s characters are analyzed in the context of representing artificially conceived ideas. This includes the central character, Barry Kane (Robert Cummings), who occupies the unique position of serving as a model citizen. The depth of his character suffers as a result, as he faces virtually no moral conflict as a result of his unyielding confidence. The main point is that Barry Kane is simply a representation of the ideal.

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