It's been no secret that the next four episodes of The Clone Wars all have titles linked to Alfred Hitchcock films. Alfred Hitchcock was one of the greatest storyteller's of any generation of filmmakers, and it's obvious The Clone Wars crew looks up to them.
And if you know me (and you know about my column on StarWars.Com), you'll know that I love cinema history and I love connecting it to Star Wars. So this is a dream come true for me, especially since Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favorite filmmakers of all time.
I thought it would be a lot of fun to watch each of these movies in advance of the episode airing. The next episode of The Clone Wars is called Sabotage, which is the title of the 1936 Alfred Hitchcock film (with an animated sequence organized by Walt Disney!). The second episode in the arc references The Man Who Knew Too Much (which Hitchcock made twice, once in 1934 featuring Peter Lorre and again in 1956 with James Stewart and Doris Day). The third is the thrilling Cary Grant, Grace Kelly film To Catch a Thief (1955). The fourth is Hitchcock's heartbreaking film, The Wrong Man (1955), starring Henry Fonda.
Sabotage is a famous film and controversial. It centers around a cinema owner named Verloc who's also secretly a provocateur, working for a group of anarchists and an enemy nation. Verloc doesn't want to be a bad guy, or contribute to the loss of life, but is forced into acts of violent terrorism due to circumstances beyond his control.
In the films most famous and most nerve-wracking sequence, Verloc employs his underage brother-in-law to unknowingly deliver a bomb in a film canister set for delivery to the London Underground.
But the boy ends up delayed and distracted during his delivery, and finds himself on a crowded bus when the time-bomb goes off, killing everyone.
Verloc's wife comes to suspect her husband of the crime and the film plays out tensely, further and further, until the guilty parties get their comeuppance and Mrs. Verloc gets her revenge.
More than anything, this film revolutionized the timing of pacing in a tense sequence. It might not be Hitchcock's finest film, but it has so many compelling shades of gray in the view of the crime and motives of the characters. Some characters are driven to murder, but you sympathise with them.
And this is a film for film-lovers, what with all of the scenes that take place in and around movie theatres and the trappings of cinema at the time. It wouldn't surprise me to find that Quentin Tarentino had used this film as an inspiration for Inglorious Basterds.
It will be fascinating to see what level of inspiration this film will bring to the next episode of The Clone Wars. Will it be a direct adaptation (like Senate Spy, based on Hitchcock's Notorious)? Or will it be more of a loose inspiration, like The Man With No Name Trilogy had on characters like Boba Fett and Cad Bane?
Since this is the "Ahsoka Arc," and all of these films involve crime, terrorists, and people wrongfully accused of crimes, are we going to get episodes about those things? Since Ahsoka is the star, will she be on the run from everyone, accused of crimes she didn't commit? It seems so.
I highly recommend you check the movie out, which is streaming in full from the Internet Archive in the box above, before this week's episode of The Clone Wars. Though if you're worried about potential spoilers from a movie that's predates even Batman and Superman, you should come back and watch it after the episode airs.
And be sure to listen to the Full of Sith podcast for the latest Star Wars talk...