Foreign Correspondent (1940)

dir. Alfred Hitchcock. On the eve of World War II, New York City crime reporter John Jones (played by Joel McCrea) is dispatched to London for an exclusive interview with a Dutch diplomat to get the scoop on the likelihood of war breaking out in Europe. Jones becomes entangled in a secret plot, and must reveal the truth, with the help of his foreign correspondent pals, and the beautiful daughter of a suspicious politician. Hitchcock’s second American film, and dramatically less polished than REBECCA (1940), which was his first and last Best Picture Oscar. Hitchcock would later blame the quality of FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT on America looking down on thrillers, resulting in a cheaper production and not being able to secure his preferred cast – Hitchcock wanted Gary Cooper in the Joel McCrea role. These production limitations, combined with some very muddled and disjointed dialogue, result in a less satisfying narrative compared with other 1940s Hitchcock films. There are still some magical moments, especially the Windmill scene early in the film, and the finale is truly thrilling. The film was released in America during the Battle of Britain. It must have been something to sit in an American cinema watching newsreels of the bombings, and then to see this film, a special epilogue providing a glimpse into the carnage, urging your country to war.

By Nicholas Hudson-Ellis

Co-Founder & Film Programs Manager of Bangkok Screening Room.