Hitchcock - War and espionage dramas

Author: Dr. Mandar V. Bichu

Alfred Hitchcock’s directorial genius lay in his immaculate understanding of cinema as a medium. Intriguing plots, ingenious scene compositions and intelligent technical innovations (particularly when the cinematic technology was in its infancy!) gave that special Hitchcock-touch to his films and critics as well as general audiences simply loved it. For any other director, limiting to just one genre of film-making would have proved to be a major creative handicap but Hitchcock turned that characteristic into his strength. In a career spanning five decades, he limited himself to mainly making suspense films but within that one genre, he successfully explored various themes and sub-genres to present a varied and versatile fare of all-time classics like Strangers On The Train, Rebecca, Psycho, Dial M For Murder, Rear Window, Vertigo and Birds.

The World Wars, The Cold War and the related undercover espionage and terrorist activities often provided fodder for Hitchcock’s imagination. Time and again, he explored those plot-lines in classics like Sabotage, 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, The Man Who Knew Too Much and North By North East.
Here are some more Hitchcock-films within that ‘War-Terrorism-Espionage’ sub-genre that don’t really fall into the same class but still all of them have enough special Hitchcock-moments to make your viewing worthwhile!
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
A World War-II saga. Here the hero- a US reporter is sent to Britain with a changed name. His mission is to cover an important European treaty but instead he ends up being an unsuspecting witness to a Dutch diplomat’s assassination. Soon it appears that there much more to the story than it meets the eye.
Experience Hitchcock’s brilliance through Amsterdam square assassination scene, a wind-mill chase sequence, a London tower murder and a mid-ocean plane crash climax.
Saboteur (1942)
The World War II is on and US is facing a terrorism threat from Nazi sympathathizers. The hero- a small-town aircraft factory worker gets falsely implicated as a saboteur who caused a factory-fire, which killed his best friend. To clear his name he must uncover the slippery network of covert operatives. Hunted by the police and targeted by the goons, he would have to summon every ounce of courage and intelligence to thwart a deadly terrorist plot.
A classic Hitchcock-moment here is the grand climax atop the Statue Of Liberty!
Torn Curtain (1966)  
At the height of Cold War, an American nuclear scientist defects to East Germany. Not knowing that he is actually carrying out a secret US-mission, his bewildered fiancée too follows him there. This throws into disarray his plans of securing a nuclear formula from an East German scientist. Right under the nose of the ruthless East German secret police, he has to achieve his mission and stage a daring escape within twenty-four hours.
A star-pair of Paul Newman and Julie Andrews, a blood-curdling farmhouse murder and a clever scene where the formula is obtained from the German scientist by challenging his vanity are the highlights here.

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