Saboteur appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The image held up quite well for its age.
Sharpness looked solid. Only a little mild softness ever cropped up, and even then, it occurred on infrequent occasions. The vast majority of the flick showed good delineation and accuracy. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and edge enhancement was absent.
Blacks worked well, as they were deep and taut. Contrast was solid, and low-light shots seemed smooth and distinct. Source flaws weren’t an issue, as the movie looked clean. Grain came across as natural, so I didn’t suspect any concerns related to digital noise reduction. Overall, I felt pleased with this strong presentation.
I also was happy with the monaural soundtrack of Saboteur. Speech tended to be a little brittle, but the lines were intelligible from start to finish, and they demonstrated a reasonable sense of accuracy.
Music showed the restricted tones I expected. The score showed no real concerns, though, as it only suffered from a minor lack of heft typical of its era. Effects were similarly thin but acceptable. The mix failed to deliver much range, which I expected. Some light hiss showed up but no other source concerns occurred. Ultimately, this was a more than acceptable track.
How does the Blu-ray compare to the prior 2005 DVD? Audio was a bit smoother and more concise; the lossless mono couldn’t do much to improve on the 74-year-old source, but it was a little stronger. Visuals came across as tighter, cleaner and better developed. This was a nice step up on the old DVD.
The Blu-ray replicates almost all of the extras from the DVD. The main component comes from a documentary called Saboteur: A Closer Look. This 35-minute and 24-second show provides the standard mix of movie clips, archival elements and interviews.
We hear from associate art director Robert Boyle, director’s daughter Pat Hitchcock O’Connell, and actor Norman Lloyd. The show examines the script and its development, wartime restrictions and their effect on the project, casting and performances, Hitchcock’s style as director, camerawork, aspects of the era and the political elements in the flick, and a few scene specifics.
As a general examination of Saboteur, “Closer Look” doesn’t excel. It lacks much breadth to its participants, so we get a limited perspective. Nonetheless, we learn some nice details, and Lloyd provides a few interesting stories, especially in terms of his performance choices. This becomes an enjoyable program.
Art appears in the next two areas. Storyboards shows 22 drawings created to plan the movie’s climactic sequence, while Alfred Hitchcock’s Sketches covers similar territory across its seven frames. These are brief but interesting.
45 Production Photographs mix advertisements, publicity shots and elements from the set, and we finish with the movie’s Theatrical Trailer.
Given its subject matter, I worried that Saboteur would degenerate into a bland piece of wartime propaganda. Happily, Alfred Hitchcock ensured that nothing dull or tedious would hit the screen. He created a consistently lively and enjoyable thriller. The Blu-ray provides excellent visuals, more than acceptable audio and a decent set of supplements. This becomes a nice release for a fine movie.
Note that this Blu-ray version of Saboteur can be found on its own or as part of a 15-film set called “Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection”. This also includes Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, Rear Window, Shadow of a Doubt, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, North By Northwest, Psycho, The Birds, Marnie, Torn Curtain, Topaz, Frenzy and Family Plot.
To rate this film, visit the DVD review of SABOTEUR