Posted by martinteller on March 1, 2012
One of Hitchcock’s many “wrong man” films. This one is very much in the mold of The 39 Steps and Young and Innocent in structure and basic character types. As a thriller/adventure, it works quite well with nicely constructed situations for our heroes to get into and out of. The opening sequence is really powerful, and the ending looks forward to North By Northwest and is particularly interesting for its lack of scoring. I still don’t think much of Robert Cummings in this role – sometimes he’s too boyish and sometimes too smug – but I’ve warmed up to him a little bit. Priscilla Lane is maybe a bit dull but she manages pretty well. The real shining stars of the cast are in the villains, particularly the wonderfully slimy Otto Kruger and Norman Lloyd (and a brief appearance by the ubiquitous Ian Wolfe).
Where the film falters most is in its preachy script. Too many ham-fisted, long-winded monologues about good ol’ American folks and patriotism (or in Kruger’s case, about “the moron millions” — ooh, ain’t he a stinker?). This kind of thing is to be expected in a wartime movie but that doesn’t make it much easier to swallow. At least the speeches aren’t underscored with “America the Beautiful” or “Battle Hymn of the Republic”… but they might as well be. The hokey writing and Cummings’ performance will always keep this as a middling Hitchcock for me. Still, it’s got some fun moments and it’s nice to pop in every once in a blue moon. Rating: Good