Made shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hitchcock’s wartime thriller follows naïve factory worker Barry Kane, who is wrongfully accused of incinerating an aircraft plant. Kane, played with brilliant candor by Robert Cummings, knows the only way to prove his innocence is to catch the real saboteur. An American variation on The 39 Steps, Hitchcock’s film pulls its fugitive across disconcerting settings where civic uprightness veils ulterior motives. Hitchcock teamed with art director Robert Boyle to create a cross-country medley of imposing set pieces—from the California desert to the top of the Statue of Liberty—much like those found in their future collaborations on North by Northwest, The Birds, and Marnie. This was also Hitchcock’s first film to feature an all-American cast, and its box-office success secured his creative foothold in Hollywood for the iconic films to come.
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