Foreign Correspondent (1940)

Foreign Correspondent (1940), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Days before the start of WW2, a New York crime reporter is sent to Britain so he can blunder into some news. "Well how about Hitler? Don't you think it would be a good idea to pump him? He must have something on his mind."

The first 30 minutes are pretty slack, but then he blunders into news in a big way and it's off to the races: assassination, the chase through a sea of umbrellas, road trip with gunfire, cat and mouse in the spooky windmill, walking on ledges and avoiding being pushed out of a cathedral, and on and on.

The last act is a spectacular plane crash and survival at sea. You can see why Hitchcock's audience expected him to deliver the thrill goods in every film thereafter. We close with a hyper-patriotic appeal for Americans to support the British, who were getting hammered in the early years of the war.

By instinct we trust neither Herbert Marshall nor George Sanders at first sight, but sometimes our instincts are only 50% correct.

This is pretty straightforward filmmaking by Hitchcock, without the conflict of character and motivation we find in his other movies.


Photographed by Rudolph Maté.

Criterion Blu-ray.