A forerunner of North by Northwest, Alfred Hitchcock‘s Saboteur (’42) is about an innocent man (Robert Cummings‘ “Barry Kane”) suspected of arson, espionage and manslaughter, and is on the run from the bulls as he darts from one location to another.

Early on the handcuffed Kane shows up at a mountain cabin occupied by “Phillip Martin” (Vaughan Glaser), a blind but kindly and obviously wise and well educated older fellow. (Phillip’s distant European cousin was the blind, bearded hermit who showed kindness to Boris Karloff‘s Frankenstein monster in The Bride of Frankenstein.)

Phillip’s niece Pat Martin (Priscilla Lane) shows up, spots Kane’s cuffs and concludes he’s the alleged arsonist the cops are after. She takes Phillip aside and warns him about the “dangerous” Kane.

Phillip patiently explains to Pat that his blindness has left him with heightened perceptions, and not just in terms of touch, hearing and a sensitivity to aromas. He knew Kane was wearing handcuffs from the get-go, he tells her, because he could hear their slight clinking, but more importantly he can sense when a person is innocent or good of heart, and he knows without question that Kane is no saboteur.

In fact, several people whom Barry encounters during the first half of Saboteur not only believe in his innocence but help him to elude capture — the mother of a deceased burn victim, a cheerful truck driver, a troupe of circus performers.

Saboteur was shot between December 1941 and February 1942. Roughly two months after finishing principal photography, the big premiere happened in Washington, D.C. on 4.22.42. It opened in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall on 5.8.42. Here’s Bosley Crowther’s review.