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(Credit: Universal Pictures)

Film

Alfred Hitchcock once revealed the one "grave error" from his career

For many decades, the English filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock was known as one of the greatest directors of all time, with actors across the world eager to collaborate with the creative throughout the mid-20th century. As a result, Hitchcock was able to work with some of the finest actors of the time, including Cary Grant, James Stewart, Vera Miles, Kim Novak, Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman, creating some of the finest films of the era in the process. 

Known as ‘the master of suspense’, though Hitchcock was a multi-faceted director capable of creating romantic dramas, stylish thrillers and much more, it was his foray into horror-thriller tales that would make him such an enduring name. Based on Robert Bloch’s 1959 novel of the same name, Hitchcock’s 1960 classic Psycho is his most well-known movie, a project that toyed with the structure of the horror genre and subverted audience expectations until its shocking, now infamous, final sequence. 

Within Hitchcock’s filmography, however, there is a finale that is far more shocking, causing such distress for audiences as well as the filmmaker himself that he later stated that he deeply regretted the conclusion. 

The movie in question is the 1936 thriller, Sabotage, a film that follows an anarchist and terrorist who plans to attack London by bombing a parade in Piccadilly Circus. Tasked with uncovering the individual before it’s too late is an undercover detective who must protect his identity at all costs or risk the fate of hundreds of lives. 

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Building to an intense conclusion, much like any Hitchcock thriller, just as the film is reaching the tipping point, the terrorist gives a ticking time bomb to a small unwitting boy, telling him that he must go to Piccadilly Circus. Wrapped in a neat package, the boy has no clue what’s in the box though kindly accepts the task, getting onto a crowded bus and sitting beside an adorable puppy dog before the unthinkable happens.

Without a heroic Hollywood-esque rescue scene, the bomb explodes, killing everybody on the bus, including the charming young boy, the fluffy dog and probably many innocent bystanders on the road too. 

Regretting the conclusion almost immediately after he released the film, Hitchcock saw great backlash from critics around the world who were annoyed at him for killing a child as well as for toying with their emotions, with viewers expecting the tense build-up to lead to the discarding of the bomb. The director has since come out against his decision, telling the French filmmaker Francois Truffaut in a famous interview that the sequence “was a grave error,” adding that the killing of the child was “close to an abuse of cinematic power”. 

He also told Dick Cavett on his show that he regretted the scene, telling the host that the bomb should’ve been thrown out at the last moment. 

Take a look at the interview and the shocking scene itself, below.