The Only Movie Ending Alfred Hitchcock Regretted (That's How Brutal It Was)

The Only Movie Ending Alfred Hitchcock Regretted (That's How Brutal It Was)
Image credit: Gaumont British Picture Corporation, Legion-Media

A single disturbing scene in his own movie changed the way this filmmaker approached on-screen violence.


  • The film's graphic and violent climax left viewers disturbed and upset.
  • Hitchcock himself admittedly regretted the way he ended the movie.
  • The filmmaker took a more passive approach to violence in his subsequent works.
  • Sabotage had an unsettling and unexpected ending.

Sabotage had an upsetting and unexpected ending

The exciting spy film was released in 1936, and audiences had high expectations for a film from the legendary Alfred Hitchcock, but they were never prepared for the shocking climax that killed off many of the main characters.

Compared to his other works, Sabotage openly takes a darker approach than other Hitchcock thrillers. Titled The Woman Alone in the US, one of the main characters in the movie is a terrorist whose wife becomes suspicious of his clandestine activities and eventually discovers his plan to plant a bomb in London. The cat-and-mouse game that ensues is intense and suspenseful, but the unexpected finale sees the bomb explode in a crowded public area, killing innocent civilians and leaving a bitter taste in our mouths.

The sequence was disturbing and over the top, and had the potential to completely ruin an otherwise exciting movie, but it also left the audience with a feeling of unease.

Alfred Hitchcock was a legend of suspense genre

Hitchcock was easily one of the biggest names during the Golden Age of Hollywood, with critical and commercial successes such as Shadow of a Doubt (1943), Rear Window (1954), and Rebecca (1940). With over 53 films in his 50-year career, his name became synonymous with masterful suspense, complex examinations of human psychology and morality, and the transformation of otherwise ordinary actors and actresses into superstars.

But despite so many successes behind him, audiences could not accept how Hitchcock ended Sabotage, nor could the filmmaker himself.

Sabotage's ending felt like a betrayal

Having innocent people die violently in a terror attack is never going to go down well with audiences, and Hitchcock's timing could not have been worse. He killed characters that the audience had begun to empathize with, including children, and even killed the local dog in the blast.

Ending the film on such a bleak note, and leaving no time for justice was disappointing, but the real-life political views at the time made the violence even more controversial. The public deaths in a terror attack felt unsettlingly real, but Hitchcock did not argue with the backlash.

The filmmaker himself was easily the most critical of Sabotage and did not hesitate to admit to his errors.

In an interview with fellow auteur Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock expressed his regrets over the sequence and called it a 'grave error,' going on to speak about feeling like he had violated the trust of his audience, who were not accustomed to such shock and violence from the filmmaker.

No matter how good you are at what you do, there are always lessons to be learned

After Sabotage, although the movie as a whole received mostly positive reviews from audiences, Hitchcock never returned to such a shocking sequence. The filmmaker's regret over Sabotage changed the way he depicted violence on screen, with his later films opting to leave violent moments to the audience's imagination, while many of his other works took a more playful approach.

Hitchcock would continue to create masterful nail-biters until his final film, 1976's Family Plot, an entertaining film following frauds, career criminals, and a missing heir.

Source: Farout Magazine,