So we begin. For the first double feature, I went with two famous filmmakers, both of whom I was very familiar with. However, I did choose films I had never seen before. I went to Filmstruck, a streaming service from the Criterion Collection and TCM, and looked through their pretty decent collection of both Kurosawa and Hitchcock.

After looking through them, I decided to go with earlier films from each of them, rather than some of their more famous work.

The films today:

Drunken Angel(1948) – Akira Kurosawa

Sabotage(1936) – Alfred Hitchcock

I watched both of these over streaming on Filmstruck at my desk while I took notes. Unfortunately, Filmstruck doesn’t quite have rock solid speeds, and the stream hung up a few times. On Drunken Angel, it hung up during the climax, and on Sabotage, it hung up several times after the halfway point. Distracting, but not a deal breaker. Next time I’m on disc, so it won’t be a problem.

Let’s start by talking about Drunken Angel.

Note: I will be spoiling the hell out of these movies.

Drunken Angel(1948) – Akira Kurosawa

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Drunken Angel (1948)

Drunken Angel stars Toshiro Mifune and Takashi Shimura, the two actors most familiar to Kurosawa fans. Mifune is the John Wayne to Kurosawa’s John Ford, and Shimura frequently plays Mifune’s counterpart, foil or elder in films like Seven Samurai, Stray Dog and others.

Mifune plays Matsunaga, a yakuza gangster in a small town, running the local brothel as the boss of his turf. Shimura plays Sanada, a doctor with a drinking problem, who happens to be an expert on tuberculosis. After visiting the doctor for a gunshot wound in the hand, the doctor hears Matsunaga cough and suggests he get checked for TB. After Matsunaga consents, the doctor tells him he has a hole in his lung, and needs to get X-rays to confirm. This sets the movie in motion, as Matsunaga deals with the idea that he isn’t immortal, and Sanada deals with a patient who he knows he can help, but who refuses to accept it.

The cycle of the first half of the film is pretty simple. Matsunaga gets bad news from Sanada, and they fight, Matsunaga leaves, Sanada tracks him down and urges him to get treatment, they fight again, and Matsunaga accepts some modest amount of treatment before abandoning the doctor, and we repeat.

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Bad news. Drunken Angel (1948)

In a lot of ways, this cycle is a little too simple, but we do get a lot of characterization. On the other hand, Kurosawa hits that characterization pretty hard. For example, the doctor has a drinking problem. We see this played out over and over and over again. At an evening meal, he asks for another drink and his mother refuses him, so he upends his glass to get the last little drop. In another scene, when offered a drink by Matsunaga, he slowly lowers his head to the glass to take a sip without picking up the glass, savoring it. As the film progresses, he gets more and more desperate, diluting the rubbing alcohol for his patients with water and drinking that.

After the first couple of times Sanada does something only an alcoholic would do, we understand that aspect of his character pretty well. But Kurosawa keeps coming back to it over and over again.

In a more subtle scene, we see him interacting with another doctor. While Sanada walks everywhere and wears shabby clothes, his colleague has a car and is well-dressed. However, we still see that Sanada earns respect for his skill, as the doctor still refers his TB patients to Sanada. We also see how dedicated Sanada is to helping people, as he continually chases down Matsunaga to try and get him treatment.

Kurosawa also does a lot visually with metaphor, but he also has a tendency in this film to have the characters spell out the metaphor with dialogue. For example, the village surrounds a grimy, disgusting pond where all the residents throw their trash. It’s clear this swamp is not clean, but early in the film, Sanada scolds some children who are playing in the pond to make this explicit.

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The swamp. Drunken Angel (1948)

It’s also clear as the film goes on that the swamp is a metaphor for the sickness living in Matsunaga. Everything in Matsunaga’s world is sick. Rather than just letting this play out, Kurosawa includes a scene where Sanada finds Matsunaga near the swamp and says to him:

“Your lungs are like that swamp there. It’s pointless to just look after your lungs, you’re surrounded by scum.”

This is punctuated by a shot of a small doll floating in the muck that Matsunaga is looking at. The camera cuts back and forth between the doll and Matsunaga during this speech. The speech probably wasn’t sufficient for a visual medium like film, but the visuals were more than sufficient in explaining the metaphor and what Matsunaga is feeling at that moment. This film was made in Kurosawa’s first decade as a filmmaker, so it’s possible he didn’t have the confidence that the audience would get it, or it’s possible he was working in a system that demanded he make the metaphor explicit, but either way, while I don’t have a specific example to show, I expect that later in his career he simply let the metaphor play without spelling it out.

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Laying it on thick. Drunken Angel (1948)

The major subplot in the film involves Matsunaga’s former boss Okada who returns from prison about halfway through the film. Kurosawa neatly connects this to Sanada as well. Sanada’s nurse is a former lover of Okada, and is concerned that he will come back for her and ruin her life again. It is strongly suggested that the nurse was a former prostitute, though not spelled out. By doing this, we have this subplot serve both of our dueling antagonists.

Okada is an interesting character, as he is a hard-nosed gangster, heavily contrasted with Matsunaga. While Matsunaga seems uneasy and nervous, Okada seems totally self-assured at all times. Matsunaga is sick and weak, Okada is strong.

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Matsunaga and Okada. Drunken Angel (1948)

Okada is also associated with beautiful things throughout the film. His introduction is especially interesting. Early in the film, Kurosawa places an amateur guitarist in the village, plucking away at a guitar. Not unpleasant, but definitely unpracticed and meandering. When Matsunaga and Sanada are together, this guitarist frequently plays in the background.

In one scene, Matsunaga arrives at Sanada’s house drunk. He has gotten his X-rays and has seen how bad his lungs are. Sanada finally finds the X-rays and reassures him that he can get better if he follows the doctors orders. Matsunaga finally relents.

Immediately following this scene, Okada appears and meets the guitar player He asks for the guitar, and begins playing a beautiful melody. In contrast to the amateur player, we can see immediately that Okada is an expert guitarist. This particular metaphor isn’t spelled out, thankfully, and I’ll try to do my own analysis.

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Kurosawa as the visual master. Drunken Angel (1948)

I love finding little metaphors and themes like this in film, because it feels like a code that the filmmaker left for the viewers to uncover. At the moment that Matsunaga accepts the help of the expert, the guitar suddenly transitions from an amateur to an expert. Just like Matsunaga has accepted an experts help, Kurosawa shows us how much of a difference an expert can make.

At this point, we don’t know who Okada is, and in fact, while we’ve heard his name from the nurse before, we don’t explicitly hear his name associated with this character until much later in the film, but it’s easy enough to figure out that this individual is the man the nurse fears. Kurosawa gives us our first clue when Okada hands the guitar back to the amateur player. When asked what tune he was playing, he answers: “The Killers Anthem”.

The visual metaphor gets a bit more subtle in the next scene. Matsunaga leaves the doctor’s office, and the doctor admonishes him that he is not to drink or have sex. The sun is bright, the music is light, and Matsunaga seems relaxed and grateful. After being told not to drink or have sex, he is offered both almost immediately. He turns them down. We can see the change in him as he moves through his day. He picks up a flower from a local stand and walks over to the swamp. He smells it carefully. As the audience, we feel we are seeing a completely new character, he has turned over a new leaf. The flower symbolizes this new life that he is pursuing.

But then…

A shadow appears behind him and the man we saw in the previous scene appears. From the dialogue we discover that he has just left prison (our second clue that he is Okada), and that he was the former boss of the town who Matsunaga took over for. Matsunaga defers to him immediately, showing respect. Okada invites him for a drink. As the audience rooting for Matsunaga to be healthy, we know that he should refuse. But in this moment, he takes the flower that symbolizes his new life, and tosses it into the muck before following his old boss.

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The symbol of the flower, discarded into the muck. Drunken Angel (1948)

The audience now knows what comes next, and the film doesn’t trick us. Though Matsunaga refuses a couple more times, he eventually succumbs and goes on a bender, ending in him coughing up blood and being taken to a sick bed.

The film then begins building towards the climax. Matsunaga is bed ridden, and Sanada tries to help, but the gangsters world begins crumbling. His girlfriend leaves for Okada, and the bosses of the gang give his territory back to Okada. Matsunaga is taken in by Sanada who tries desperately to keep him in bed, but Matsunaga refuses to follow orders, unable to show weakness. After overhearing his bosses claim that he is more useful on the verge of death because he will be willing to do anything, he realizes that he is just a tool.

Even here he is offered one more chance at a normal life. As he casts about, a female bartender tells him that they can run away together back to her village. The place she describes is the exact opposite of the town they live in, with clean streams, and green grass. Those rooting for Matsunaga are sincerely hoping he takes this last chance, even though we know he can’t. He leaves and takes a flower from the same stand as before, connecting us back to the earlier scene with the flower. Once again, the flower symbolizes the new life that he can have access to.

However this time, the clerk asks him to pay. As a yakuza he’s never had to pay for things in the town before, but he learns from the clerk that they have been instructed that he is not to be given these privileges any longer. He is blinded by his loss of status. He’s been denied this new life(symbolized by the flower) by the gang that runs the town, which he is no longer a part of.

This leads to the climax of the film. Matsunaga takes one more shot at regaining his old life. He arrives at his old apartment, now occupied by Okada, and begins a fight. The fight is fairly brutal, especially for the time period, and is set up so Matsunaga ends up covered in white paint. After giving it his all, he is defeated and stabbed in the chest. His story ends with him laid out, covered in white paint, reminding audiences not so coincidentally of an angel.

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Not so subtle. Drunken Angel (1948)

The film concludes with Sanada talking to the bartender who had offered to run away with Matsunaga. She has his ashes, and is leaving town soon. We learn that Okada has returned to prison, and not much else has changed. Sanada encounters a young patient that we met earlier in the film, who he has cured of tuberculosis. While he couldn’t save Matsunaga, we see that he still can save someone, and that beautiful things can still emerge from the swamp.


I had never seen this film before, but it does not disappoint. Kurosawa puts two unlikely allies into an interesting situation and sets them off. Mifune is a legend even in this film. You can see his struggle in every scene. Whether he’s playing a tough yakuza, or playing sick and barely conscious, you can see how scared he is. Not just of dying, but of uncertainty in his position. When his fears come to pass when Okada comes back and takes back over, we see how hard he fights to convince everyone he’s fine. During his bender, we have a musical scene in a club where Matsunaga is barely conscious, either from drink or illness we’re not sure(probably both). When Okada gets up and dances, Matsunaga feels he must match him. He grabs a woman and exclaims: “You must act well to feel well!” Then dances up a storm. The makeup helps here as well, as Matsunaga looks essentially like death.

He then gambles away hundreds of thousands of yen in a direct contest with Okada, further showing his weakness, and giving us the impression that even without the illness, he couldn’t stand up to this old rival.

Shimura is excellent as well. While he has the somewhat less interesting character, he is able to move the plot forward by responding to the stubbornness of Matsunaga with his own feigned stubbornness. In one scene, when Matsunaga comes back after leaving his sick bed again, he tells his nurse to tell Matsunaga he is not coming. The nurse knows him too well, and just keeps preparing. In the next scene, Sanada is treating his patient.

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Takashi Shimura Drunken Angel (1948)

In addition, the actor playing Okada has a tough role, but plays it brilliantly. Reizaburô Yamamoto as an actor has to show up halfway through the film after all the other characters have been established, and make us believe that he can take on Toshiro Mifune and win. Mifune makes this easier by playing the tough guy who actually isn’t so tough so well (we see him do this again in Seven Samurai), but the character of Okada walks on screen and is immediately intimidating. He’s a force in every scene he’s in.

The setting is essentially perfect as well. Kurosawa sets up the swamp during the opening credits, and never lets us forget how disgusting and dirty the world is. The characters cross in front of the swamp every day, it’s a constant presence, and the metaphor really works.

And the film is filled with great shots. Even in this muck and grime, Kurosawa finds beauty. For instance, this shot:

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Drunken Angel (1948)

The depth alone in this shot is stunning, but the lighting and stillness really make it breathtaking.

Sabotage (1936)

Film 2 in the double feature today is Alfred Hitchcock’s Sabotage. This is another one I’d never seen before. The film is strangely enough about sabotage. It makes this explicit in the first frame as the credit sequence plays over the dictionary definition of the word sabotage. Alfred Hitchcock apparently hadn’t met Saul Bass yet.

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You could still do this in the 30s without a hint of irony. Sabotage(1936)

The film is a very straightforward thriller, but we do get a few glimpses into why Hitchcock was a master of the genre. We start out with a power outage in London. Hitchcock centers on a few workers around a generator filled with sand which caused the problem. He uses quick short dialogue to tell us what has happened, and then moves on.

But who is the saboteur? A lot of films would make finding that out the entire film. But Hitchcock tells us in the first five minutes without a bit of dialogue. We cut to a movie theater where patrons are demanding their money back because the power went out, the ticket clerk Mrs. Verloc is trying to talk them out of it, when we see a man sneak into the door of the theater in the confusion. He confidently walks into an apartment in the back of the theater, hangs up his coat and goes to wash his hands. When he finishes, the camera focuses on the water going down the drain. As it becomes clearer, we see the sink is filled with gritty sand. He then goes and lies down in bed, covering his face with a newspaper.

With just a minute of film, Hitchcock has told us: 1) this guy is the saboteur, 2) he lives at the movie theater, 3) he really doesn’t want anyone to know he was out that night.

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If there’s dirt in the sink, he’s the guy I would think. Sabotage(1936)

This is what Hitchcock was great at. If he had kept the identity of the saboteur a secret, then we’re just waiting around for him to strike again, and watching the police or agents gather clues and try to learn as much as we can, and maybe trying to guess on our own who the saboteur is. By telling us immediately who the saboteur is, Hitchcock now creates a tension around this character and everyone he interacts with. Will he be caught? Did he leave behind a clue? Do the people around him know what he has done? What will he do next? By slowly playing out these answers as the film goes on, Hitchcock flips the movie from a mystery to a thriller.

As the film proceeds, we learn that the ticket clerk Mrs. Verloc is the husband of Mr. Verloc, the saboteur, who owns the movie theater, and she has a younger brother named Stevie. We also learn early on that Mr. Verloc is being watched by a Scotland Yard detective who is posing as a grocer at the store next door.

The film plays as a by the numbers thriller, expertly crafted. Verloc goes to receive his payment, only to be told that the power outage wasn’t good enough, that the city found it amusing, rather than terrifying. He is pressed to increase the terror, by setting off a bomb. We see Verloc here is hesitant, not wanting to hurt anyone. Hitchcock is trying to humanize his villain here, and it’s a good attempt, but I don’t know if I ever felt like Verloc was a decent guy caught up in circumstance.

As the inspector tries to get information out of Mrs. Verloc and Stevie, Mr. Verloc is directed to a pet shop that also makes “fireworks”(it’s a bomb for anyone not good with metaphor). The pet shop owner/bomb maker promises him that he will deliver a bomb to him that will go off at 1:45 on a Saturday with enough time for Verloc to deliver it to Piccadilly Circus.

Verloc still doesn’t want to deliver the bomb himself, so he writes to several friends, asking them to come discuss a job with him. They arrive while Mrs. Verloc is selling tickets, and the inspector is next door. In another convenient thriller setup, the inspector sees the men enter and goes to snoop. He finds an open window with the help of Stevie (which was setup earlier in the film), and tries to listen in, but his hand is visible to the room’s occupants, which one of the criminals sees. He’s pulled into the room, but as the audience, it appears briefly that his cover as the grocer will hold up.

But the camera tells a different story. We see that the detective recognizes one of the criminals, and the criminal recognizes him. While the detective gets out of the scene without a problem, the criminal immediately blows his cover, and all of Verloc’s potential allies flee, leaving Verloc alone to deliver the bomb himself.

One thing the film doesn’t do a great job of is explaining why Verloc is doing these acts. It hints that money is the motivation, but it doesn’t really develop that aspect much. The film only runs for 77 minutes, so it seems like an extra scene or two where we find out why Verloc is willing to do this just for the money might have helped. Or explaining some political motivation. Verloc does have an accent foreign to London, but it’s never explained if they’re working for a foreign government, or some kind of anarchist cell.

We do know that he is scared. He’s scared of setting the bomb, and he’s scared of not setting the bomb. But things are in motion, and he doesn’t seem to have any way to get out of it. By removing all of his potential allies, the film isolates him again, and raises the tension.

Finally, the bomb arrives. It sits inconspicuously in a drawer under a bird cage, allowing him some cover. But at this point, Verloc has suspicion swirling around him. The undercover detective is talking to his wife out front on the theater, and he sees suspicious men covering the back. He’s trapped with a bomb that will go off at 1:45.

Then Verloc does the unthinkable. He gives the bomb to Stevie, the young boy, and sends him on an errand. He tells him the package must be delivered by 1:30. It seems like plenty of time to drop off the bomb, and then get away from it. But of course, Verloc doesn’t tell the child what’s in the package. How could he? He gives him two film cans to deliver as well to avoid suspicion.

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Keep it safe! Sabotage (1936)

So the major tension is set in motion. This is Hitchcock’s bread and butter. He has set an timer for the audience. We know that the bomb will go off at 1:45. We have no reason to think the bomb maker is incompetent. However, the character carrying the bomb has no idea what he is carrying. This is the classic theory of suspense as stated by Hitchcock. I’ll let him explain, from an interview with Francois Truffaut:

“There is a distinct difference between “suspense” and “surprise,” and yet many pictures continually confuse the two. I’ll explain what I mean.

We are now having a very innocent little chat. Let’s suppose that there is a bomb underneath this table between us. Nothing happens, and then all of a sudden, “Boom!” There is an explosion. The public is surprised, but prior to this surprise, it has seen an absolutely ordinary scene, of no special consequence. Now, let us take a suspense situation. The bomb is underneath the table and the public knows it, probably because they have seen the anarchist place it there. The public is aware the bomb is going to explode at one o’clock and there is a clock in the decor. The public can see that it is a quarter to one. In these conditions, the same innocuous conversation becomes fascinating because the public is participating in the scene. The audience is longing to warn the characters on the screen: “You shouldn’t be talking about such trivial matters. There is a bomb beneath you and it is about to explode!”

In the first case we have given the public fifteen seconds of surprise at the moment of the explosion. In the second we have provided them with fifteen minutes of suspense. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed. Except when the surprise is a twist, that is, when the unexpected ending is, in itself, the highlight of the story.”

We essentially have the exact scene described by Hitchcock here. By giving the audience more information than the characters, he can shoot an ordinary scene, peppered with some closeups of the package, and it becomes incredibly tense. In this case, we see the boy get caught up by a street vendor’s demonstration, then delayed by a parade through the middle of the city. Until the parade ends, Hitchcock uses shots of clocks sparingly, blinding us to the time.

After the parade ends, the boy boards a bus, and there are suddenly clocks everywhere. We see the clock move past 1:30, then 1:35, then 1:40. The boy is still on the bus when the clock hits 1:45. But the bomb hasn’t gone off! Maybe the boy has been lucky, maybe the bombmaker wasn’t as competent as we thought.

Then the clock moves to 1:46. BOOM!

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Back to back shots. Sabotage(1936)

The bomb explodes, destroying the bus.

Hitchcock did the unthinkable, killing an innocent child. Any chance of Verloc being redeemed is gone in that moment.

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He also killed a puppy. Sabotage (1936)

The film takes it’s time with the consequences of this event, not giving the characters this information immediately. Instead of the climax, the explosion becomes the catalyst for the climax.

Our smoking gun comes in the form of one of the film cans that Stevie carried out earlier. As he left the theater, he conveniently shows this film can to both Mrs. Verloc, and the detective.

The detective finds the warped film can in the wreckage, suddenly understanding. Mrs. Verloc sees a newspaper, which names the film canister found (this seems unrealistic for police to release this information, but maybe it was common in that era), and now she knows everything. Verloc confesses to her. We see a dinner scene play out for a second time. Earlier in the film, Stevie is helping set the table, and Mr. Verloc complains that the cabbage isn’t green. In the earlier scene, Mrs. Verloc has Stevie get some lettuce from the grocer. Having this scene play out a second time after the confession is an interesting choice. Mr. Verloc plays it the same way, acting as if nothing has changed. But we see the effect it’s having on Mrs. Verloc, as she eyes the knife she’s using to cut the roast.

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The smoking gun tying everything together. Sabotage(1936)

Mr. Verloc sees her eyeing it and knows what it means. He approaches her and she grabs the knife to keep it from him, stabbing him in the struggle. Now we have a new kind of tension. Mrs. Verloc will have to be arrested for murder.

Our undercover detective arrives first, and reveals the feelings he has for Mrs. Verloc before discovering the body. He knows what it means, and Mrs. Verloc urges him to take her to the police station, but on the way, he suggests they flee, telling her that there are 12 hours before anyone will find the body. Hitchcock sets another timer. This one immediately expires with two scenes. One in which the pet shop owner’s wife demands he go to Verloc’s theater and get the bird cage to avoid having the bomb connected to them, and another where the police decide to go to the theater and arrest Verloc that evening.

Here Hitchcock lets the audience get a little bit ahead of the characters again and creates a new kind of tension. If the pet shop owner gets to the theater first and the police find him there, he will easily be blamed for the murder and Mrs. Verloc will be free.

Here’s a part of the film that’s really confusing. The police decide that Verloc might have another bomb. They start telling everyone that there’s a bomb. The pet shop owner discovers the dead body, and rather than being caught with it, he decides to blow up the entire building with another bomb he had on him. Why did he have another bomb on him? I have no idea. But it ties up the plot nicely, with the police’s suspicions confirmed.

The film ends with the chief inspector trying to piece it all together, and deciding that Mrs. Verloc must have had nothing to do with it. Here we get another common Hitchcock moment, where a character is either freed or condemend through coincidence or misunderstanding. Hitchcock clearly exists in a chaotic world.


This is a really well-done film. It’s pretty straightforward, but has enough twists and interesting characters to keep things entertaining. Hitchcock does a great job of ratcheting up the tension. the layering of various tensions over and over is especially well done. We start with the simple “Will he get caught?” tension. Then Hitchcock adds the bomb to the mix, then he gives the bomb to an innocent, then after the bomb goes off, we add the tension of how Mrs. Verloc finds out that her younger brother has died. Then the tension of the fate of Mrs. Verloc is added.

The cast is filled with actors who are competent, but not amazing. All of them are recognizable from other films, but not big stars. Oskar Homolka plays Verloc and has the most nuanced performance. In fact, the only actor I recognized immediately was Peter Bull, who played one of the conspirators. He also played the Russian ambassador in Dr. Strangelove. The real star here is the story, and Hitchcock uses his actors more as props to help move it along.

The cinematography as well is competent but nothing to write home about. Hitchcock would produce some of the most iconic shots in film history, but there aren’t any of those in this film. This is fairly early in Hitchcock’s career, after The 39 Steps, and before The Lady Vanishes. This film isn’t as impressive as either of those, but it’s a worthy addition to Hitchcock’s filmography.

There’s also some evidence that the film was made fairly cheaply. One thing that I found amusing was a scene near the end of the film, as the police are trying to arrest Verloc. In the back of the theater as the police pass through, there are clearly two mannequins filling in as extras. This definitely isn’t a case where the filmmakers knew their film would be viewed in low quality, and it’s only now that we have a high quality version that we notice these things. The original film print likely would have been clear as day, and the mannequins are right near the center of the frame. A strange choice when there were plenty of human extras in the scene.

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I could highlight the dummies, but where’s the fun in that? Sabotage(1936)

There’s a good bit of comedy in the film as well, dropped in around the tension. A couple tells a joke as they walk by the camera, and the pet shop owner is introduced with a scene where he’s trying to convince a customer that her bird really does sing.

Overall, the film is competent, but not extraordinary. It’s middle of the pack as far as Hitchcock goes. The cast is probably the weakest part. Would the film be better with Cary Grant as the detective and Grace Kelly as Mrs. Verloc? Not sure. But Hitchcock made dozens of films, and this one is certainly not a disappointment.

The Double Feature

So, how do these two films work as a pair? On the surface, they both deal with criminal acts, though one is a story of attempted redemption, and the other is more of a cautionary tale. One is about the relationship between two characters, the other is about the suspense inherent in the situation.

Looking a little deeper, we see even bigger differences. While Drunken Angel feels like an artists early attempt to express themselves through film, Sabotage feels more like a studio film. Competent, entertaining, but without the deeper meaning and emotion that we get from Drunken Angel. But it’s these contrasts that I think make the pair work. I don’t think I’d want to watch two similar films back to back. After watching the emotional depth of Drunken Angel, it was nice to sink into a by the numbers thriller with some decent twists like Sabotage.

The films were made on opposite sides of World War II which makes an interesting contrast as well. Drunken Angel was made in 1948, while Japan was still rebuilding. The film isn’t about that, but we see hints of it. Characters mention rationing, and when threatened by Okada, Sanada claims “I’ve killed more people than you.” My initial thought was that he made this claim in relation to being a doctor, but when viewed in the context of the time, it becomes clear that he’s talking about being a soldier. This might also give a window into why he spends so much time drinking.

In Sabotage though, we see a society without a care. The war is far off, and there is no fear from the characters. The detective and Mrs. Verloc consider going to “the continent”, in this case Europe without a second thought. This is a major contrast to The Lady Vanishes, from just a couple of years later which has an underlying theme of the fear of the coming war in every frame. We can certainly see shades of a foreign plot in the act of sabotage from Verloc, but it doesn’t hang over the film in a significant way.

So as a pair, I think these two work well because of their contrasts. The films have very different feelings, but they work.


I wasn’t sure how the first of these would go. Would I still be able to watch a film critically? Would I be able to enjoy the films? Would I get bored and start checking my email or my phone?

I didn’t have any problems though. I really enjoyed watching both films, and was able to pull a lot out of each and didn’t pick up my phone once. It was nice to get back into that groove, and I’m looking forward to doing more. I can definitely see myself continuing this on a less frequent basis after the summer as well.

Thanks for joining me, and I’ve already picked the next double feature:

Princess Mononoke(1997) – Hayao Miyazaki

The Specials(2000) – Craig Mazin (written by James Gunn)

I’m guessing that you haven’t heard of at least one of those films, and that’s ok.