Foreign Correspondent


1h 59m 1940
Foreign Correspondent

Brief Synopsis

An American reporter covering the war in Europe gets mixed up in the assassination of a Dutch diplomat.

Film Details

Also Known As
Imposter, Personal History
Genre
Mystery
Thriller
War
Spy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Aug 16, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Walter Wanger Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 59m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
13 reels

Synopsis

Disgusted by the publicity handouts that his foreign correspondents have been wiring in as news stories, the editor of the New York Morning Globe assigns crime reporter Johnny Jones to deliver the hard facts from Europe. Using the name Huntley Haverstock, Johnny voyages to London to interview Van Meer, a Dutch diplomat who has committed to memory a secret critical clause in the Allied Peace Treaty. In London, Johnny also meets Stephen Fisher, the head of a pacifist organization, and his daughter Carol. Becoming suspicious when Van Meer fails to appear to deliver his speech on how to avert war, Johnny follows the diplomat to Amsterdam. In the pouring rain in Amsterdam Square, Van Meer, who doesn't seem to know Johnny when the correspondent greets him, is shot on the stairs, and his murderer disappears in a sea of umbrellas. In pursuit of the murderer, Johnny meets Carol and ffolliott, a British correspondent, and they follow the assassin's trail to a windmill in the Dutch countryside. After sending ffolliott for the police, Johnny discovers a drugged Van Meer held captive by the Nazis, and learns that the man who was shot on the stairs was an imposter. Before ffolliott can return with the authorities, however, Van Meer's captors spirit him away, and when the police arrive, they refuse to believe Johnny's story. Refusing to abandon his search for Van Meer, Johnny returns to London where, while visiting Fisher, he recognizes one of the men from the windmill. Realizing that the pacifist must be a Nazi agent, Johnny teams with ffolliott to rescue Van Meer. When war is declared between England and Germany, Carol and her father escape aboard a clipper bound for America, only to discover that Johnny and ffolliott are on the same flight. When the plane is shot down, Fisher, realizing that he faces arrest, sacrifices his life to save the others, who are rescued by an American ship. Once safely on board the vessel, Johnny is banned from wiring the story to his paper, but he subverts the captain's orders by giving the details under the guise of a personal phone call and soon becomes America's voice from Europe.

Cast

Joel Mccrea

John Jones/[Huntley Haverstock]

Laraine Day

Carol Fisher

Herbert Marshall

Stephen Fisher

George Sanders

[Scott] ffolliott

Albert Basserman

Van Meer

Robert Benchley

Stebbins

Edmund Gwenn

Rowley

Eduardo Ciannelli

Mr. Krug

Harry Davenport

Mr. Powers

Martin Kosleck

Tramp

Frances Carson

Mrs. Sprague

Ian Wolfe

Stiles

Charles Waggenheim

Assassin

Edward Conrad

Latvian

Charles Halton

Bradley

Barbara Pepper

Dorine

Emory Parnell

"Mohican" captain

Roy Gordon

Mr. Brood

Gertrude Hoffman

Mrs. Benson

Martin Lamont

Captain

Barry Bernard

Steward

Holmes Herbert

McKenna

John Burton

English announcer

Alfred Hitchcock

Man with newspaper

Crauford Kent

Toastmaster

Jane Novak

Miss Benson

Louis Borell

Captain Lanson

Eily Malyon

English cashier

E. E. Clive

Mr. Naismith

Alexander Granach

Valet

Dorothy Vaughan

Jones's mother

Jack Rice

Donald

Rebecca Bohanon

Sophie

Hilda Plowright

Miss Pimm

James Finlayson

Dutch peasant

Joan Brodel

Jones's sister

Paul Irving

Dr. Williamson

Ferris Taylor

Jones's father

John T. Murray

Clark

Gino Corrado

Italian waiter

Samuel Adams

Betty Bradley

Mary Young

Jackie Mcgee

Henry Blair

Bert White

Thomas Pogue

Jack Voglin

George French

William Stalling

John Meredith

George Cathrey

Hermina Milar

Loulette Sablon

Douglas Gordon

Colin Kennedy

Paul Sutton

Robert C. Fischer

Jack Dawson

Ken Christy

Tom Mizer

Carl Ekberg

Haus Von Morhart

Otto Hoffman

Harry Depp

Meeka Aldrich

Willy Costello

Bill Gavier

Ernie Stanton

Donald Stuart

Helena Phillips Evans

Herbert Evans

Frank Benson

Barbara Boudwin

Elspeth Dudgeon

Gwendolyn Logan

Bunny Beatty

Raymond Severn

Lawrence Osman

Richard Hammond

Joe O'brien

Billy Bester

Billy Horn

Ronald Brown

Louise Brien

Jack Alfred

George Offerman Jr.

Photo Collections

Foreign Correspondent - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster for Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Coorespondent (1940), starring Joel McCrea and Laraine Day. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Imposter, Personal History
Genre
Mystery
Thriller
War
Spy
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
Aug 16, 1940
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Walter Wanger Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 59m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
13 reels

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1940

Best Cinematography

1940

Best Picture

1940

Best Special Effects

1941

Best Supporting Actor

1940

Best Writing, Screenplay

1941

Articles

The Essentials-Foreign Correspondent


SYNOPSIS

American newspaper publisher Mr. Powers is frustrated that his overseas correspondents are unable to uncover compelling stories about the impending war in Europe. He taps Johnny Jones, an impetuous and politically naive crime reporter, to travel to the Continent in search of good copy. Powers renames Jones as "Huntley Haverstock" and introduces him to his guide, peace activist Stephen Fisher. As a starting point, Jones is also assigned to get an interview with Van Meer, a Dutch diplomat who holds the key to a secret clause in a treaty between the Dutch and the Belgians. In London, Jones meets and falls for Fisher's daughter Carol, and touches base with one of his correspondent peers, the genial but hard-drinking Stebbins. Arriving in Holland, Jones witnesses the apparent assassination of Van Meer in a crowded, rain-soaked square, and upon seeing the fleeing gunman, he gives chase. As Carol and her friend Scott ffolliott follow other leads, Jones discovers Van Meer, kidnapped and held captive in a windmill. Jones has stumbled onto a ring of spies operating on Dutch and English soil, determined to disrupt the peace conference Mr. Fisher has arranged and get the upper hand in the outbreak of war by forcing secrets from Van Meer.

Producer: Walter Wanger
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Robert Benchley, Charles Bennett, Harold Clurman, (uncredited), Joan Harrison, Ben Hecht (uncredited), James Hilton, John Howard Lawson (uncredited), John Lee Mahin (uncredited), Richard Maibaum, Budd Schulberg (uncredited), Based on the book Personal History by Vincent Sheean
Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen
Cinematography: Rudolph Maté
Costume Design: I. Magnin
Film Editing: Dorothy Spencer
Original Music: Alfred Newman
Cast: Joel McCrea (Johnny Jones), Laraine Day (Carol Fisher), Herbert Marshall (Stephen Fisher), George Sanders (Scott ffolliott), Robert Benchley (Stebbins), Albert Bassermann (Van Meer), Edmund Gwenn (Rowley), Eduardo Ciannelli (Mr. Krug), Martin Kosleck (Tramp), Harry Davenport (Mr. Powers), Ian Wolfe (Stiles), Barbara Pepper (Dorine).
BW-120m.

Why FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT is Essential

Following the enormous success of his first American movie, Rebecca (1940), Alfred Hitchcock made his next film, Foreign Correspondent (1940), on loan-out to independent producer Walter Wanger, for distribution through United Artists. For this political thriller, Hitchcock was able to sum up themes and techniques culled from his earlier British films, such as The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938). To work the script into shape, Hitchcock and Wanger brought in a total of fourteen writers, yet the final vision is undoubtedly the director's. Several scenes prove to be textbook examples of the Hitchcock technique; in one, an assassination occurs in a crowd of people holding umbrellas, in another purely visual scene the turning of a windmill reveals an important clue to the film's mystery. Perhaps the most famous scene in Foreign Correspondent is a frightening and spectacular plane crash that still packs a punch today. Aiding Hitchcock in his visualization on the film were atmospheric set designs by the brilliant William Cameron Menzies.

By early 1940, Europe was being divided and decimated by the Nazis but the official U.S. policy was still one of strict neutrality. Despite the fact that the British government urged their most famous native, Alfred Hitchcock, to remain in America during this time, the director desperately wanted to contribute to the British war effort so he sought out a property that would allow him to make a pro-Britain statement. The subsequent production, Foreign Correspondent (1940), is the story of an American correspondent (Joel McCrea) in Europe who becomes committed to the fight against fascism during his investigation of a kidnapped Dutch diplomat, a situation that requires him to travel from London to Holland.

The source for Foreign Correspondent was Personal History, Vincent Sheean's autobiographical account of the growing political turmoil in Europe. Producer Walter Wanger had recently purchased the book for $10,000 and Hitchcock hired Charles Bennett and Joan Harrison, both previous screenplay collaborators of his, to mold the material into a workable screenplay. When they were finished, very little remained from the original book with the exception of the opening scene in Holland. Ironically, even the completed screenplay of Bennett and Harrison was drastically altered with Hitchcock bringing in many writers (including Robert Benchley and novelist James Hilton) before he arrived at a final version. Foreign Correspondent was an enjoyable production for Hitchcock because of his loan-out arrangement with Walter Wanger; he was given free reign and not under the close scrutiny and autocratic rule of his regular employer, studio chief David O. Selznick. Huge creative differences existed between Hitchcock and Selznick and the director would later get his revenge on the producer with an in-joke in Rear Window (1954); The murder suspect (Raymond Burr) in that thriller bore a startling resemblance to the heavy set mogul.

Originally, Hitchcock wanted Gary Cooper for the title role in Foreign Correspondent with Joan Fontaine as his leading lady but eventually settled for Joel McCrea and Laraine Day. Although some critics viewed the film as a glorified B-movie after the lush production values of Hitchcock's Selznick films, Foreign Correspondent actually cost more to produce than Rebecca (1940), partly due to some very elaborate special effects. Foreign Correspondent was enjoyed equally by the critics and the public and garnered five Oscar® nominations including Best Supporting Actor (Albert Bassermann), Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. Hitchcock was also nominated for Best Director that year - for Rebecca.

by Jeff Stafford and John M. Miller

The Essentials-Foreign Correspondent

The Essentials-Foreign Correspondent

SYNOPSIS American newspaper publisher Mr. Powers is frustrated that his overseas correspondents are unable to uncover compelling stories about the impending war in Europe. He taps Johnny Jones, an impetuous and politically naive crime reporter, to travel to the Continent in search of good copy. Powers renames Jones as "Huntley Haverstock" and introduces him to his guide, peace activist Stephen Fisher. As a starting point, Jones is also assigned to get an interview with Van Meer, a Dutch diplomat who holds the key to a secret clause in a treaty between the Dutch and the Belgians. In London, Jones meets and falls for Fisher's daughter Carol, and touches base with one of his correspondent peers, the genial but hard-drinking Stebbins. Arriving in Holland, Jones witnesses the apparent assassination of Van Meer in a crowded, rain-soaked square, and upon seeing the fleeing gunman, he gives chase. As Carol and her friend Scott ffolliott follow other leads, Jones discovers Van Meer, kidnapped and held captive in a windmill. Jones has stumbled onto a ring of spies operating on Dutch and English soil, determined to disrupt the peace conference Mr. Fisher has arranged and get the upper hand in the outbreak of war by forcing secrets from Van Meer. Producer: Walter Wanger Director: Alfred Hitchcock Screenplay: Robert Benchley, Charles Bennett, Harold Clurman, (uncredited), Joan Harrison, Ben Hecht (uncredited), James Hilton, John Howard Lawson (uncredited), John Lee Mahin (uncredited), Richard Maibaum, Budd Schulberg (uncredited), Based on the book Personal History by Vincent Sheean Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen Cinematography: Rudolph Maté Costume Design: I. Magnin Film Editing: Dorothy Spencer Original Music: Alfred Newman Cast: Joel McCrea (Johnny Jones), Laraine Day (Carol Fisher), Herbert Marshall (Stephen Fisher), George Sanders (Scott ffolliott), Robert Benchley (Stebbins), Albert Bassermann (Van Meer), Edmund Gwenn (Rowley), Eduardo Ciannelli (Mr. Krug), Martin Kosleck (Tramp), Harry Davenport (Mr. Powers), Ian Wolfe (Stiles), Barbara Pepper (Dorine). BW-120m. Why FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT is Essential Following the enormous success of his first American movie, Rebecca (1940), Alfred Hitchcock made his next film, Foreign Correspondent (1940), on loan-out to independent producer Walter Wanger, for distribution through United Artists. For this political thriller, Hitchcock was able to sum up themes and techniques culled from his earlier British films, such as The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938). To work the script into shape, Hitchcock and Wanger brought in a total of fourteen writers, yet the final vision is undoubtedly the director's. Several scenes prove to be textbook examples of the Hitchcock technique; in one, an assassination occurs in a crowd of people holding umbrellas, in another purely visual scene the turning of a windmill reveals an important clue to the film's mystery. Perhaps the most famous scene in Foreign Correspondent is a frightening and spectacular plane crash that still packs a punch today. Aiding Hitchcock in his visualization on the film were atmospheric set designs by the brilliant William Cameron Menzies. By early 1940, Europe was being divided and decimated by the Nazis but the official U.S. policy was still one of strict neutrality. Despite the fact that the British government urged their most famous native, Alfred Hitchcock, to remain in America during this time, the director desperately wanted to contribute to the British war effort so he sought out a property that would allow him to make a pro-Britain statement. The subsequent production, Foreign Correspondent (1940), is the story of an American correspondent (Joel McCrea) in Europe who becomes committed to the fight against fascism during his investigation of a kidnapped Dutch diplomat, a situation that requires him to travel from London to Holland. The source for Foreign Correspondent was Personal History, Vincent Sheean's autobiographical account of the growing political turmoil in Europe. Producer Walter Wanger had recently purchased the book for $10,000 and Hitchcock hired Charles Bennett and Joan Harrison, both previous screenplay collaborators of his, to mold the material into a workable screenplay. When they were finished, very little remained from the original book with the exception of the opening scene in Holland. Ironically, even the completed screenplay of Bennett and Harrison was drastically altered with Hitchcock bringing in many writers (including Robert Benchley and novelist James Hilton) before he arrived at a final version. Foreign Correspondent was an enjoyable production for Hitchcock because of his loan-out arrangement with Walter Wanger; he was given free reign and not under the close scrutiny and autocratic rule of his regular employer, studio chief David O. Selznick. Huge creative differences existed between Hitchcock and Selznick and the director would later get his revenge on the producer with an in-joke in Rear Window (1954); The murder suspect (Raymond Burr) in that thriller bore a startling resemblance to the heavy set mogul. Originally, Hitchcock wanted Gary Cooper for the title role in Foreign Correspondent with Joan Fontaine as his leading lady but eventually settled for Joel McCrea and Laraine Day. Although some critics viewed the film as a glorified B-movie after the lush production values of Hitchcock's Selznick films, Foreign Correspondent actually cost more to produce than Rebecca (1940), partly due to some very elaborate special effects. Foreign Correspondent was enjoyed equally by the critics and the public and garnered five Oscar® nominations including Best Supporting Actor (Albert Bassermann), Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. Hitchcock was also nominated for Best Director that year - for Rebecca. by Jeff Stafford and John M. Miller

Pop Culture 101-Foreign Correspondent


Following the over-budget and over-schedule shooting of Foreign Correspondent, both Hitchcock and the holder of his contract, David O. Selznick, were anxious that the director should turn out a film quickly and cheaply to prove to Hollywood that he was an accomplished professional. Partially as a favor to his friend Carole Lombard, Hitchcock directed the screwball comedy Mr. And Mrs. Smith (1941) at RKO Radio Pictures. A week into the shooting of the picture, Selznick's right-hand man Daniel T. O'Shea wrote to Selznick that Hitchcock was keeping on budget "...in order to demonstrate to the world after Rebecca and Foreign Correspondent that he is not only a great director but a reasonably priced one." The Lombard comedy came in on schedule and only slightly over budget.

After making only two films in America, Rebecca and Foreign Correspondent (both 1940), Alfred Hitchcock became one of the most publicly recognized movie directors. RKO commissioned a Gallup poll in October, 1940 which asked a cross-section of the population to identify four directors and their movies: Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford and Lewis Milestone. Hitchcock came in second to Capra, but the name-recognition for the British director was four times that of Ford and eight times that of Milestone.

While Hitchcock's anti-fascist message is evident throughout Foreign Correspondent, it was later reported that Nazi official Joseph Goebbels found the film very entertaining.

Following completion of Foreign Correspondent, and as a favor to producer Walter Wanger, Hitchcock shot a few additional scenes for the film The House across the Bay (1940), which had been directed by Archie Mayo. The scenes involved actors Walter Pidgeon and Joan Bennett on a plane; Wanger thought Hitchcock would be ideal for the scenes following the airplane sequence he had completed on Foreign Correspondent.

Working with humorist Robert Benchley on Foreign Correspondent may have given Alfred Hitchcock ideas about the future persona the director would take on in his television career. As John Russell Taylor wrote in his biography, Hitch, "[Hitchcock] had seen several of the shorts the woebegone, disenchanted comic had made, illustrated lectures by himself on such subjects as How to Sleep, A Night at the Movies, and The Sex Life of the Polyp, and had appreciated a dry, grotesque sense of humour not unlike his own. Years later hew was to remember the tone and format when devising his own famous introductory monologues for Alfred Hitchcock Presents on television."

by John M. Miller

Pop Culture 101-Foreign Correspondent

Following the over-budget and over-schedule shooting of Foreign Correspondent, both Hitchcock and the holder of his contract, David O. Selznick, were anxious that the director should turn out a film quickly and cheaply to prove to Hollywood that he was an accomplished professional. Partially as a favor to his friend Carole Lombard, Hitchcock directed the screwball comedy Mr. And Mrs. Smith (1941) at RKO Radio Pictures. A week into the shooting of the picture, Selznick's right-hand man Daniel T. O'Shea wrote to Selznick that Hitchcock was keeping on budget "...in order to demonstrate to the world after Rebecca and Foreign Correspondent that he is not only a great director but a reasonably priced one." The Lombard comedy came in on schedule and only slightly over budget. After making only two films in America, Rebecca and Foreign Correspondent (both 1940), Alfred Hitchcock became one of the most publicly recognized movie directors. RKO commissioned a Gallup poll in October, 1940 which asked a cross-section of the population to identify four directors and their movies: Frank Capra, Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford and Lewis Milestone. Hitchcock came in second to Capra, but the name-recognition for the British director was four times that of Ford and eight times that of Milestone. While Hitchcock's anti-fascist message is evident throughout Foreign Correspondent, it was later reported that Nazi official Joseph Goebbels found the film very entertaining. Following completion of Foreign Correspondent, and as a favor to producer Walter Wanger, Hitchcock shot a few additional scenes for the film The House across the Bay (1940), which had been directed by Archie Mayo. The scenes involved actors Walter Pidgeon and Joan Bennett on a plane; Wanger thought Hitchcock would be ideal for the scenes following the airplane sequence he had completed on Foreign Correspondent. Working with humorist Robert Benchley on Foreign Correspondent may have given Alfred Hitchcock ideas about the future persona the director would take on in his television career. As John Russell Taylor wrote in his biography, Hitch, "[Hitchcock] had seen several of the shorts the woebegone, disenchanted comic had made, illustrated lectures by himself on such subjects as How to Sleep, A Night at the Movies, and The Sex Life of the Polyp, and had appreciated a dry, grotesque sense of humour not unlike his own. Years later hew was to remember the tone and format when devising his own famous introductory monologues for Alfred Hitchcock Presents on television." by John M. Miller

Trivia-Foreign Correspondent - Trivia & Fun Facts About FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT


Oscar®-nominated supporting actor Albert Bassermann had migrated from European films to Hollywood features beginning in 1938. His director friend Ernst Lubitsch had encouraged the move, and Bassermann had already appeared in the Warner Bros. film Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940) before acting in Foreign Correspondent. What makes these roles remarkable is the fact that Bassermann could not speak English, and was reciting his lines phonetically!

Alfred Hitchcock's traditional director cameo in Foreign Correspondent occurs roughly thirteen minutes into the film, during the scene in which Johnny Jones (Joel McCrea) leaves his hotel and notices Van Meer (Albert Bassermann) getting into a waiting car. Hitchcock is seen walking on the street (actually in front of a process screen) in a hat and coat, reading a newspaper.

Alfred Hitchcock made Foreign Correspondent on loan-out from his regular employer, David O. Selznick. The producers contemplated a twelve-week schedule from start to finish, but the assignment ultimately lasted thirty weeks. This gave Selznick a gross profit of $54,000 - just for loaning out his contract director. Hitchcock fumed at the disparity, and stalled on accepting any new assignments on loan-out - that is, until Selznick gave the director a $5,000 bonus from the Wanger deal. Hitchcock still rankled, though, privately referring to the payment as a contribution to the "Fund for Starving Hitchcocks."

Owing to the wartime themes, it was several years after the end of WWII before Foreign Correspondent was shown in Germany. Demand for Hitchcock product was strong following the release of Psycho (1960), so in 1960 the movie was distributed by Constantin Film in West Germany. Even so, a full 22 minutes were cut. The uncut version of Foreign Correspondent was not officially shown in Germany until 1995.

B>Foreign Correspondent co-screenwriter Charles Bennett had a long career as an actor, playwright and primarily, a screenwriter. After his play Blackmail was adapted to film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1929, he began his long relationship with the director which included the adaptation for The 39 Steps (1935) and the screenplays for Secret Agent (1936), Sabotage (1936), and Young and Innocent (1937). He collaborated with Cecil B. DeMille on the films Unconquered (1947), The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944), and Reap the Wild Wind (1942). Bennett wrote the screenplay for the highly regarded thriller Night of the Demon (1957), directed by Jacques Tourneur, and closed out his career with an almost exclusive relationship with future "disaster movie" producer Irwin Allen, writing such films as The Story of Mankind (1957), The Lost World (1960), and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961).

Foreign Correspondent co-screenwriter Joan Harrison began a long career in the film industry when she was hired as Alfred Hitchcock's secretary in 1933. Soon she became a "reader," searching through books and other properties for suitable screen material, writing synopses, and also contributing to scripts. Harrison worked as Hitchcock's assistant when he arrived in Hollywood, and contributed to the screenplays of Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), and Saboteur (1942). Harrison was hired as a producer at Universal Pictures and RKO, and was responsible for such films as Phantom Lady (1944), They Won't Believe Me, and Ride the Pink Horse (both 1947). As a result, she was one of only three women to work as a major studio producer during the Golden Age of Hollywood. She later rejoined her mentor and produced the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents from 1955 to 1962.

Famous Quotes from FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT

Mr. Powers (Harry Davenport): I could get more news out of Europe looking at a crystal ball.

Mr. Powers: How would you like to cover the biggest story in the world today?
Johnny Jones (Joel McCrea): Give me an expense account and I'll cover anything.

Mr. Powers: You don't mind being Huntley Haverstock, do you?
Johnny Jones: A rose by any name, sir...
Stephen Fisher (Herbert Marshall): It's really very exciting being present at the christening of an American newspaper correspondent. Shouldn't we break a bottle of champagne or something over him?

Stebbins (Robert Benchley): Scotch and soda and a glass of milk.
Johnny Jones: A glass of milk?
Stebbins: Yes, I'm on the wagon. I went to the doctor today to see about these jitters I've got and he said it was the wagon for a month or a whole new set of organs. I can't afford a whole new set of organs.

Carol Fisher (Laraine Day): I think the world has been run long enough by the well-meaning professionals. We might give the amateurs a chance now.

Scott ffolliott (George Sanders): Who's he shot?
Johnny Jones: Van Meer. Assassinated.
ffolliott: Dead?
Johnny Jones: Looked like it.
ffolliott: Bad show.
Johnny Jones: Couldn't be much worse from his point of view.

Carol Fisher: Oh, I forgot, this is Scott ffolliott. Newspaperman - same as you. Foreign correspondent. Mr. Haverstock, Mr. ffolliott.
ffolliott: With a double-f...
Johnny Jones: How do you do?
ffolliott: How do you do.
Johnny Jones: I don't get the double-f.
ffolliott: At the beginning, old boy - and they're both small 'f's.
Johnny Jones: They can't be at the beginning.
ffolliott: One of my ancestors had his head chopped off by Henry VIII, and his wife dropped the capital letter to commemorate the occasion.

Carol Fisher: Mr. Haverstock, don't you think you've been talking through your hat long enough?
Johnny Jones: But I'm not talking through my hat. I've thrown a monkey wrench into some international dirty business, whatever it is - I know Van Meer's alive - that's the reason they want to kill me.
Carol Fisher: I can think of others.

Johnny Jones: You see, I love you, and I want to marry you.
Carol Fisher: I love you, and I want to marry you.
Johnny Jones: Well, that cuts down our love scene quite a bit, doesn't it?

Stephen Fisher: These people are criminals, more dangerous than your rumrunners and house breakers. They're fanatics. They combine a mad love of country with an equally mad indifference to life. Their own as well as others. They're cunning, unscrupulous, and... inspired.

Johnny Jones: (to Carol) If you knew how much I loved you, you'd faint.

Johnny Jones: I'm all mixed up. I'm in love with a girl, and I'm going to help hang her father.

Johnny Jones: I came 4,000 miles to get a story. I get shot at like a duck in a shooting gallery, I get pushed off buildings, I get the story, and then I've got to shut up!

Captain (Martin Lamont): Mr. Haverstock, I want a talk with you.
Johnny Jones: Yes sir?
Captain: I just found out you're a newspaperman.
Johnny Jones: I guess that's right.
Captain: Oh, it is, eh? Why didn't you tell me that when I questioned you? You lied to me, sir!
Johnny Jones: (surreptitiously filing his story to his editor over the telephone) My dear captain, when you've been shot down in a British plane by a German destroyer, 300 miles off the coast of England -latitude 45- and have been hanging on to a half-submerged wing for hours, waiting to drown, with half a dozen other stricken human beings, you're liable to forget you're a newspaperman for a moment or two!

Johnny Jones (Broadcasting from London): Hello, America. I've been watching a part of the world being blown to pieces. A part of the world as nice as Vermont, and Ohio, and Virginia, and California, and Illinois lies ripped up and bleeding like a steer in a slaughterhouse, and I've seen things that make the history of the savages read like Pollyanna legends. I've seen women... (bombs are heard)
Radio Announcer (John Burton): It's a raid; we shall have to postpone the broadcast.
Johnny Jones: Oh, postpone, nothing! Let's go on as long as we can.
Announcer: Madam, we have a shelter downstairs.
Johnny Jones: How about it, Carol?
Carol Fisher: They're listening in America, Johnny.
Johnny Jones: Okay, we'll tell 'em, then. I can't read the rest of the speech I had, because the lights have gone out, so I'll just have to talk off the cuff. All that noise you hear isn't static - it's death, coming to London. Yes, they're coming here now. You can hear the bombs falling on the streets and the homes. Don't tune me out, hang on a while - this is a big story, and you're part of it. It's too late to do anything here now except stand in the dark and let them come... It's as if the lights were all out everywhere, except in America. Keep those lights burning, cover them with steel, ring them with guns, build a canopy of battleships and bombing planes around them. Hello, America, hang on to your lights: they're the only lights left in the world!

Compiled by John M. Miller

Trivia-Foreign Correspondent - Trivia & Fun Facts About FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT

Oscar®-nominated supporting actor Albert Bassermann had migrated from European films to Hollywood features beginning in 1938. His director friend Ernst Lubitsch had encouraged the move, and Bassermann had already appeared in the Warner Bros. film Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940) before acting in Foreign Correspondent. What makes these roles remarkable is the fact that Bassermann could not speak English, and was reciting his lines phonetically! Alfred Hitchcock's traditional director cameo in Foreign Correspondent occurs roughly thirteen minutes into the film, during the scene in which Johnny Jones (Joel McCrea) leaves his hotel and notices Van Meer (Albert Bassermann) getting into a waiting car. Hitchcock is seen walking on the street (actually in front of a process screen) in a hat and coat, reading a newspaper. Alfred Hitchcock made Foreign Correspondent on loan-out from his regular employer, David O. Selznick. The producers contemplated a twelve-week schedule from start to finish, but the assignment ultimately lasted thirty weeks. This gave Selznick a gross profit of $54,000 - just for loaning out his contract director. Hitchcock fumed at the disparity, and stalled on accepting any new assignments on loan-out - that is, until Selznick gave the director a $5,000 bonus from the Wanger deal. Hitchcock still rankled, though, privately referring to the payment as a contribution to the "Fund for Starving Hitchcocks." Owing to the wartime themes, it was several years after the end of WWII before Foreign Correspondent was shown in Germany. Demand for Hitchcock product was strong following the release of Psycho (1960), so in 1960 the movie was distributed by Constantin Film in West Germany. Even so, a full 22 minutes were cut. The uncut version of Foreign Correspondent was not officially shown in Germany until 1995. B>Foreign Correspondent co-screenwriter Charles Bennett had a long career as an actor, playwright and primarily, a screenwriter. After his play Blackmail was adapted to film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1929, he began his long relationship with the director which included the adaptation for The 39 Steps (1935) and the screenplays for Secret Agent (1936), Sabotage (1936), and Young and Innocent (1937). He collaborated with Cecil B. DeMille on the films Unconquered (1947), The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944), and Reap the Wild Wind (1942). Bennett wrote the screenplay for the highly regarded thriller Night of the Demon (1957), directed by Jacques Tourneur, and closed out his career with an almost exclusive relationship with future "disaster movie" producer Irwin Allen, writing such films as The Story of Mankind (1957), The Lost World (1960), and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961). Foreign Correspondent co-screenwriter Joan Harrison began a long career in the film industry when she was hired as Alfred Hitchcock's secretary in 1933. Soon she became a "reader," searching through books and other properties for suitable screen material, writing synopses, and also contributing to scripts. Harrison worked as Hitchcock's assistant when he arrived in Hollywood, and contributed to the screenplays of Rebecca (1940), Suspicion (1941), and Saboteur (1942). Harrison was hired as a producer at Universal Pictures and RKO, and was responsible for such films as Phantom Lady (1944), They Won't Believe Me, and Ride the Pink Horse (both 1947). As a result, she was one of only three women to work as a major studio producer during the Golden Age of Hollywood. She later rejoined her mentor and produced the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents from 1955 to 1962. Famous Quotes from FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT Mr. Powers (Harry Davenport): I could get more news out of Europe looking at a crystal ball. Mr. Powers: How would you like to cover the biggest story in the world today? Johnny Jones (Joel McCrea): Give me an expense account and I'll cover anything. Mr. Powers: You don't mind being Huntley Haverstock, do you? Johnny Jones: A rose by any name, sir... Stephen Fisher (Herbert Marshall): It's really very exciting being present at the christening of an American newspaper correspondent. Shouldn't we break a bottle of champagne or something over him? Stebbins (Robert Benchley): Scotch and soda and a glass of milk. Johnny Jones: A glass of milk? Stebbins: Yes, I'm on the wagon. I went to the doctor today to see about these jitters I've got and he said it was the wagon for a month or a whole new set of organs. I can't afford a whole new set of organs. Carol Fisher (Laraine Day): I think the world has been run long enough by the well-meaning professionals. We might give the amateurs a chance now. Scott ffolliott (George Sanders): Who's he shot? Johnny Jones: Van Meer. Assassinated. ffolliott: Dead? Johnny Jones: Looked like it. ffolliott: Bad show. Johnny Jones: Couldn't be much worse from his point of view. Carol Fisher: Oh, I forgot, this is Scott ffolliott. Newspaperman - same as you. Foreign correspondent. Mr. Haverstock, Mr. ffolliott. ffolliott: With a double-f... Johnny Jones: How do you do? ffolliott: How do you do. Johnny Jones: I don't get the double-f. ffolliott: At the beginning, old boy - and they're both small 'f's. Johnny Jones: They can't be at the beginning. ffolliott: One of my ancestors had his head chopped off by Henry VIII, and his wife dropped the capital letter to commemorate the occasion. Carol Fisher: Mr. Haverstock, don't you think you've been talking through your hat long enough? Johnny Jones: But I'm not talking through my hat. I've thrown a monkey wrench into some international dirty business, whatever it is - I know Van Meer's alive - that's the reason they want to kill me. Carol Fisher: I can think of others. Johnny Jones: You see, I love you, and I want to marry you. Carol Fisher: I love you, and I want to marry you. Johnny Jones: Well, that cuts down our love scene quite a bit, doesn't it? Stephen Fisher: These people are criminals, more dangerous than your rumrunners and house breakers. They're fanatics. They combine a mad love of country with an equally mad indifference to life. Their own as well as others. They're cunning, unscrupulous, and... inspired. Johnny Jones: (to Carol) If you knew how much I loved you, you'd faint. Johnny Jones: I'm all mixed up. I'm in love with a girl, and I'm going to help hang her father. Johnny Jones: I came 4,000 miles to get a story. I get shot at like a duck in a shooting gallery, I get pushed off buildings, I get the story, and then I've got to shut up! Captain (Martin Lamont): Mr. Haverstock, I want a talk with you. Johnny Jones: Yes sir? Captain: I just found out you're a newspaperman. Johnny Jones: I guess that's right. Captain: Oh, it is, eh? Why didn't you tell me that when I questioned you? You lied to me, sir! Johnny Jones: (surreptitiously filing his story to his editor over the telephone) My dear captain, when you've been shot down in a British plane by a German destroyer, 300 miles off the coast of England -latitude 45- and have been hanging on to a half-submerged wing for hours, waiting to drown, with half a dozen other stricken human beings, you're liable to forget you're a newspaperman for a moment or two! Johnny Jones (Broadcasting from London): Hello, America. I've been watching a part of the world being blown to pieces. A part of the world as nice as Vermont, and Ohio, and Virginia, and California, and Illinois lies ripped up and bleeding like a steer in a slaughterhouse, and I've seen things that make the history of the savages read like Pollyanna legends. I've seen women... (bombs are heard) Radio Announcer (John Burton): It's a raid; we shall have to postpone the broadcast. Johnny Jones: Oh, postpone, nothing! Let's go on as long as we can. Announcer: Madam, we have a shelter downstairs. Johnny Jones: How about it, Carol? Carol Fisher: They're listening in America, Johnny. Johnny Jones: Okay, we'll tell 'em, then. I can't read the rest of the speech I had, because the lights have gone out, so I'll just have to talk off the cuff. All that noise you hear isn't static - it's death, coming to London. Yes, they're coming here now. You can hear the bombs falling on the streets and the homes. Don't tune me out, hang on a while - this is a big story, and you're part of it. It's too late to do anything here now except stand in the dark and let them come... It's as if the lights were all out everywhere, except in America. Keep those lights burning, cover them with steel, ring them with guns, build a canopy of battleships and bombing planes around them. Hello, America, hang on to your lights: they're the only lights left in the world! Compiled by John M. Miller

The Big Idea-Foreign Correspondent


Although his first American film, Rebecca (1940), was an enormous popular and critical success, Alfred Hitchcock was anxious to veer away from the lush approach of that film and make a more briskly paced vehicle in the style of his earlier British suspense pictures. He also found the close supervision of David O. Selznick stifling, and was thrilled that Selznick was equally anxious to loan out his new star director to another studio. Finally, Hitchcock was looking for a way to help the British war effort, indirectly if not directly. Independent producer Walter Wanger had been in development on a project for years which would prove to be a timely outlet for Hitchcock's interests. The producer had the film rights to a best-selling memoir, Personal History, by Vincent Sheean. Wanger paid $10,000 for the 1936 book. John Russell Taylor described the property in his biography, Hitch: "The background to the book, that of a politically conscious correspondent in disastrously unsettled Europe, with a major war looming, was appealing and dramatic. Unfortunately there was no foreground in sharp focus - no coherent narrative, no telling characters, no specific incidents that lent themselves to filming."

Wanger was unsatisfied with the preproduction he had already put into Personal History. Initially, the setting was to be the Spanish Civil War, and Wanger intended the film to be directed by William Dieterle, with the stars Charles Boyer and Claudette Colbert. Screenwriter John Howard Lawson got this initial assignment, but Wanger brought in more writers to flesh out his work, including John Meehan and John Lay, writers from the March of Time newsreel series. Wanger was determined to keep the political angle on his film as up-to-date as possible, but this proved difficult since events were rapidly changing in Europe. The war in Spain ended in 1939, so Wanger was forced to rethink the property. He focused on hiring Hitchcock after the director completed his first American film, and he agreed to David O. Selznick's stiff weekly fee of $7,500 for Hitchcock's services. (Selznick paid Hitchcock $2,500 a week, giving the mogul a profit of $5,000 a week). The producers anticipated a 12-week schedule for the film, three or four weeks for script development, and eight or nine weeks of shooting; these estimates would prove to be quite optimistic.

After he signed on to Wanger's project, Hitchcock hired two trusted writers he had worked with in the past, Charles Bennett and Joan Harrison. As was typical with Hitchcock, he let the setting help dictate the actions of the characters; he also thought in terms of "set pieces." Years later, during an interview with French director Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock admitted that the whole film grew from a few visual ideas of his own, "We started out with the idea of the windmill sequence and also the scene of the murderer escaping through the bobbing umbrellas. We were in Holland and so we used windmills and rain. Had the picture been done in color, I would have worked in a shot I've always dreamed of: a murder in a tulip field. Two characters: the killer, a Jack-the-Ripper type, behind the girl, his victim. As his shadow creeps up on her, she turns and screams. Immediately, we pan down to the struggling feet in the tulip field. We would dolly the camera up to and right into one of the tulips, with the sound of the struggle in the background. One petal fills the screen, and suddenly a drop of blood splashes all over it. And that would be the end of the killing."

Wanger, Hitchcock, and the screenwriters had to tread somewhat carefully in fashioning the story, lest they raise the ire of the US State Department. The official stance of the United States was strict neutrality, so while the script for Foreign Correspondent name-dropped Hitler in general terms in an early scene, the country of origin of the spy ring depicted in the film is never mentioned. That detail is left to the imagination of the audience, although the logical answer is obvious to all. Several other writers were brought in on the picture, including novelist James Hilton (Lost Horizon) and humorist Robert Benchley, who was also cast in the film in a supporting role. Hilton and Benchley are credited in the film's credits for contributing dialogue.

Casting the lead roles for the picture proved to be difficult for Hitchcock. The director preferred stars, feeling that there was a shorthand in characterization when the audience is already familiar with a popular, appealing actor. Hitchcock did not get his first choice for the male lead role in Foreign Correspondent. As he later told Truffaut, "I went to Gary Cooper with it, but because it was a thriller, he turned it down. This attitude was so commonplace when I started to work in Hollywood that I always ended up with the next best - in this instance, with Joel McCrea. Many years later Gary Cooper said to me, 'That was a mistake. I should have done it.'" Similarly, Hitchcock wanted Joan Fontaine for the lead female role. Selznick also held her contract, and as she had just made a huge impression in Rebecca, Selznick wanted to save her for bigger roles. (Fontaine would appear in Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941) the following year, and win the Best Actress Oscar® as well). Instead, the part was filled by Laraine Day, then known primarily for her recurring role as Nurse Mary Lamont in MGM's Dr. Kildare series of pictures.

by John M. Miller

The Big Idea-Foreign Correspondent

Although his first American film, Rebecca (1940), was an enormous popular and critical success, Alfred Hitchcock was anxious to veer away from the lush approach of that film and make a more briskly paced vehicle in the style of his earlier British suspense pictures. He also found the close supervision of David O. Selznick stifling, and was thrilled that Selznick was equally anxious to loan out his new star director to another studio. Finally, Hitchcock was looking for a way to help the British war effort, indirectly if not directly. Independent producer Walter Wanger had been in development on a project for years which would prove to be a timely outlet for Hitchcock's interests. The producer had the film rights to a best-selling memoir, Personal History, by Vincent Sheean. Wanger paid $10,000 for the 1936 book. John Russell Taylor described the property in his biography, Hitch: "The background to the book, that of a politically conscious correspondent in disastrously unsettled Europe, with a major war looming, was appealing and dramatic. Unfortunately there was no foreground in sharp focus - no coherent narrative, no telling characters, no specific incidents that lent themselves to filming." Wanger was unsatisfied with the preproduction he had already put into Personal History. Initially, the setting was to be the Spanish Civil War, and Wanger intended the film to be directed by William Dieterle, with the stars Charles Boyer and Claudette Colbert. Screenwriter John Howard Lawson got this initial assignment, but Wanger brought in more writers to flesh out his work, including John Meehan and John Lay, writers from the March of Time newsreel series. Wanger was determined to keep the political angle on his film as up-to-date as possible, but this proved difficult since events were rapidly changing in Europe. The war in Spain ended in 1939, so Wanger was forced to rethink the property. He focused on hiring Hitchcock after the director completed his first American film, and he agreed to David O. Selznick's stiff weekly fee of $7,500 for Hitchcock's services. (Selznick paid Hitchcock $2,500 a week, giving the mogul a profit of $5,000 a week). The producers anticipated a 12-week schedule for the film, three or four weeks for script development, and eight or nine weeks of shooting; these estimates would prove to be quite optimistic. After he signed on to Wanger's project, Hitchcock hired two trusted writers he had worked with in the past, Charles Bennett and Joan Harrison. As was typical with Hitchcock, he let the setting help dictate the actions of the characters; he also thought in terms of "set pieces." Years later, during an interview with French director Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock admitted that the whole film grew from a few visual ideas of his own, "We started out with the idea of the windmill sequence and also the scene of the murderer escaping through the bobbing umbrellas. We were in Holland and so we used windmills and rain. Had the picture been done in color, I would have worked in a shot I've always dreamed of: a murder in a tulip field. Two characters: the killer, a Jack-the-Ripper type, behind the girl, his victim. As his shadow creeps up on her, she turns and screams. Immediately, we pan down to the struggling feet in the tulip field. We would dolly the camera up to and right into one of the tulips, with the sound of the struggle in the background. One petal fills the screen, and suddenly a drop of blood splashes all over it. And that would be the end of the killing." Wanger, Hitchcock, and the screenwriters had to tread somewhat carefully in fashioning the story, lest they raise the ire of the US State Department. The official stance of the United States was strict neutrality, so while the script for Foreign Correspondent name-dropped Hitler in general terms in an early scene, the country of origin of the spy ring depicted in the film is never mentioned. That detail is left to the imagination of the audience, although the logical answer is obvious to all. Several other writers were brought in on the picture, including novelist James Hilton (Lost Horizon) and humorist Robert Benchley, who was also cast in the film in a supporting role. Hilton and Benchley are credited in the film's credits for contributing dialogue. Casting the lead roles for the picture proved to be difficult for Hitchcock. The director preferred stars, feeling that there was a shorthand in characterization when the audience is already familiar with a popular, appealing actor. Hitchcock did not get his first choice for the male lead role in Foreign Correspondent. As he later told Truffaut, "I went to Gary Cooper with it, but because it was a thriller, he turned it down. This attitude was so commonplace when I started to work in Hollywood that I always ended up with the next best - in this instance, with Joel McCrea. Many years later Gary Cooper said to me, 'That was a mistake. I should have done it.'" Similarly, Hitchcock wanted Joan Fontaine for the lead female role. Selznick also held her contract, and as she had just made a huge impression in Rebecca, Selznick wanted to save her for bigger roles. (Fontaine would appear in Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941) the following year, and win the Best Actress Oscar® as well). Instead, the part was filled by Laraine Day, then known primarily for her recurring role as Nurse Mary Lamont in MGM's Dr. Kildare series of pictures. by John M. Miller

Behind the Camera-Foreign Correspondent - Behind The Camera on FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT


During the scripting stage of production on Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent, a second-unit crew was sent to Europe to shoot establishing shots. Hitchcock later told interviewer Francois Truffaut of the dangers of travel at that time: "this was in 1940, you see, and the cameraman who went over the first time from London to Amsterdam was torpedoed and lost all his equipment. He had to go over a second time." Location shots for the film were sparse, however. For the most part, Hitchcock utilized elaborate and expensive sets. The director always had a keen interest in set design and would do rough sketches of ideas for his art directors. Alexander Golitzen was the art director on Foreign Correspondent, and additional set design was by an uncredited William Cameron Menzies. Menzies had just come off the enormous task of serving as production designer for Selznick's Gone with the Wind (1939).

According to press release information, more than 600 laborers - electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and prop men - worked on the sets for the film. A 600 x 125 stage was used to recreate Waterloo Station for a few scenes, and even more extravagantly, an entire square in Amsterdam was constructed on a 10-acre site at a cost of $200,000. The scenes in the square, including the elaborate assassination and getaway shots, took place during a rainstorm, so the set had to be rigged with an elaborate drainage system. Hitchcock took great interest in the scenes of the spy ring operating inside of a Dutch windmill; the creaky, atmospheric set was three-tiered and equipped with working gears - important to the plot as our hero's coat becomes entangled in them. Also built for the film was an airplane equipped with four propeller motors, a wingspan of 120 feet, and an 84-foot fuselage, most of which ended up in a giant studio tank.

The crash of the clipper was, in fact, the most famous and costly scene in Foreign Correspondent. Regarding this sequence, Hitchcock told Truffaut "there's one shot so unusual that it's rather surprising that the technicians never bothered to question how it was done. That's when the plane is diving down toward the sea because its engines are crippled. The camera is inside the cabin, above the shoulders of the two pilots who are trying to pull the plane out of the dive. Between them, through the glass cabin window, we can see the ocean coming closer. And then, without a cut, the plane hits the ocean and the water rushes in, drowning the two men. That whole thing was done in a single shot, without a cut!." The shot was achieved by unconventionally combining two tried-and-true filmic devices: rear projection and an on-the-set dump tank. As Hitchcock explained, "I had a transparency screen made of paper, and behind that screen, a water tank. The plane dived, and as soon as the water got close to it, I pressed the button and the water burst through, tearing the screen away. The volume was so great that you never saw the screen."

After the plane crash, the main protagonists escape the fuselage and climb out onto a floating wing. Hitchcock told Truffaut about the challenges of this sequence: "A little later on there was another tricky shot. Just before the plane sank, we wanted to show one of the wings, with people on it, breaking away from the body of the plane. At the bottom of a large water tank, we installed some rails and we put the airplane on those rails. And we had a branch rail, like on the railways, so that when the wing broke away, it moved off on that branch track. It was all quite elaborate, but we had lots of fun doing it."

In Hitchcock at Work, Bill Krohn quotes Walter Wanger as the producer challenges Hitchcock's claim that he didn't even need to open his script during shooting. On the contrary, Wanger observed that Hitch's copy of the script was dog-eared before the first week of shooting was completed, and that it had "...dialogue corrections on one side, sketches showing the composition of scenes, medium shots and close-ups on the other....In addition to having art directors prepare many sketches showing lights, shades and suggested composition, Hitchcock will make as many as three hundred quick pencil sketches of his own to show the crew just how he wants scenes to look." Wanger did not see a bored director on the set either. Instead, the producer described Hitchcock as "fat, forty and full of fire. I've seen him climb a ladder with unbelievable agility." In his treatment of the actors, the producer did not notice Hitchcock as cruel or cold, but rather as "an alert and sensitive movie fan."

Principal photography for Foreign Correspondent wrapped on May 29, 1940. Hitchcock spent most of June in London, returning to the States on July 3rd. London was bracing for the anticipated Nazi Blitzkrieg, and Hitchcock and Wanger decided to film a final scene for their film. Famed reporter-turned-playwright (and frequent script doctor) Ben Hecht was brought in to write a stirring speech for Johnny Jones to deliver to his fellow Americans, telling of the "death coming to London." The sequence was filmed on July 5th. Since the movie opened only six weeks later, Wanger was ultimately successful in his goal of having an up-to-date and timely release. The final cost of the film was a then-staggering $1.5 Million. The costs charged to the script alone - accounting for a total of fourteen writers - was $250,000. When Foreign Correspondent opened on August 16, 1940, the United States was still sixteen months away from withdrawing its neutrality and entering World War II. Hitchcock must have been proud to have made such a strong pro-British film, and yet wrap the propaganda into a pure cinematic entertainment, his first American film to be unhesitantly called a "Hitchcock picture."

by John M. Miller

Behind the Camera-Foreign Correspondent - Behind The Camera on FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT

During the scripting stage of production on Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent, a second-unit crew was sent to Europe to shoot establishing shots. Hitchcock later told interviewer Francois Truffaut of the dangers of travel at that time: "this was in 1940, you see, and the cameraman who went over the first time from London to Amsterdam was torpedoed and lost all his equipment. He had to go over a second time." Location shots for the film were sparse, however. For the most part, Hitchcock utilized elaborate and expensive sets. The director always had a keen interest in set design and would do rough sketches of ideas for his art directors. Alexander Golitzen was the art director on Foreign Correspondent, and additional set design was by an uncredited William Cameron Menzies. Menzies had just come off the enormous task of serving as production designer for Selznick's Gone with the Wind (1939). According to press release information, more than 600 laborers - electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and prop men - worked on the sets for the film. A 600 x 125 stage was used to recreate Waterloo Station for a few scenes, and even more extravagantly, an entire square in Amsterdam was constructed on a 10-acre site at a cost of $200,000. The scenes in the square, including the elaborate assassination and getaway shots, took place during a rainstorm, so the set had to be rigged with an elaborate drainage system. Hitchcock took great interest in the scenes of the spy ring operating inside of a Dutch windmill; the creaky, atmospheric set was three-tiered and equipped with working gears - important to the plot as our hero's coat becomes entangled in them. Also built for the film was an airplane equipped with four propeller motors, a wingspan of 120 feet, and an 84-foot fuselage, most of which ended up in a giant studio tank. The crash of the clipper was, in fact, the most famous and costly scene in Foreign Correspondent. Regarding this sequence, Hitchcock told Truffaut "there's one shot so unusual that it's rather surprising that the technicians never bothered to question how it was done. That's when the plane is diving down toward the sea because its engines are crippled. The camera is inside the cabin, above the shoulders of the two pilots who are trying to pull the plane out of the dive. Between them, through the glass cabin window, we can see the ocean coming closer. And then, without a cut, the plane hits the ocean and the water rushes in, drowning the two men. That whole thing was done in a single shot, without a cut!." The shot was achieved by unconventionally combining two tried-and-true filmic devices: rear projection and an on-the-set dump tank. As Hitchcock explained, "I had a transparency screen made of paper, and behind that screen, a water tank. The plane dived, and as soon as the water got close to it, I pressed the button and the water burst through, tearing the screen away. The volume was so great that you never saw the screen." After the plane crash, the main protagonists escape the fuselage and climb out onto a floating wing. Hitchcock told Truffaut about the challenges of this sequence: "A little later on there was another tricky shot. Just before the plane sank, we wanted to show one of the wings, with people on it, breaking away from the body of the plane. At the bottom of a large water tank, we installed some rails and we put the airplane on those rails. And we had a branch rail, like on the railways, so that when the wing broke away, it moved off on that branch track. It was all quite elaborate, but we had lots of fun doing it." In Hitchcock at Work, Bill Krohn quotes Walter Wanger as the producer challenges Hitchcock's claim that he didn't even need to open his script during shooting. On the contrary, Wanger observed that Hitch's copy of the script was dog-eared before the first week of shooting was completed, and that it had "...dialogue corrections on one side, sketches showing the composition of scenes, medium shots and close-ups on the other....In addition to having art directors prepare many sketches showing lights, shades and suggested composition, Hitchcock will make as many as three hundred quick pencil sketches of his own to show the crew just how he wants scenes to look." Wanger did not see a bored director on the set either. Instead, the producer described Hitchcock as "fat, forty and full of fire. I've seen him climb a ladder with unbelievable agility." In his treatment of the actors, the producer did not notice Hitchcock as cruel or cold, but rather as "an alert and sensitive movie fan." Principal photography for Foreign Correspondent wrapped on May 29, 1940. Hitchcock spent most of June in London, returning to the States on July 3rd. London was bracing for the anticipated Nazi Blitzkrieg, and Hitchcock and Wanger decided to film a final scene for their film. Famed reporter-turned-playwright (and frequent script doctor) Ben Hecht was brought in to write a stirring speech for Johnny Jones to deliver to his fellow Americans, telling of the "death coming to London." The sequence was filmed on July 5th. Since the movie opened only six weeks later, Wanger was ultimately successful in his goal of having an up-to-date and timely release. The final cost of the film was a then-staggering $1.5 Million. The costs charged to the script alone - accounting for a total of fourteen writers - was $250,000. When Foreign Correspondent opened on August 16, 1940, the United States was still sixteen months away from withdrawing its neutrality and entering World War II. Hitchcock must have been proud to have made such a strong pro-British film, and yet wrap the propaganda into a pure cinematic entertainment, his first American film to be unhesitantly called a "Hitchcock picture." by John M. Miller

Foreign Correspondent


By early 1940, Europe was being divided and decimated by the Nazis but the official U.S. policy was still one of strict neutrality. Despite the fact that the British government urged their most famous native, Alfred Hitchcock, to remain in America during this time, the director desperately wanted to contribute to the British war effort so he sought out a property that would allow him to make a pro-Britain statement. The subsequent production, Foreign Correspondent (1940), is the story of an American correspondent (Joel McCrea) in Europe who becomes committed to the fight against fascism during his investigation of a kidnapped Dutch diplomat, a situation that requires him to travel from London to Holland.

The source for Foreign Correspondent was Personal History, Vincent Sheean's autobiographical account of the growing political turmoil in Europe. Producer Walter Wanger had recently purchased the book for $10,000 and Hitchcock hired Charles Beaumont and Joan Harrison, both previous screenplay collaborators of his, to mold the material into a workable screenplay. When they were finished, very little remained from the original book with the exception of the opening scene in Holland. Ironically, even the completed screenplay of Beaumont and Harrison was drastically altered with Hitchcock bringing in a total of fourteen writers (including Robert Benchley and novelist James Hilton) before he arrived at a final version. Still, Foreign Correspondent was an enjoyable production for Hitchcock because he was on loan-out to Walter Wanger at United Artists where he was given free reign and not under the close scrutiny and autocratic rule of his regular employer, studio chief David O. Selznick. Huge creative differences existed between Hitchcock and Selznick and the director would later get his revenge on the producer with an in-joke in Rear Window (1954); The murder suspect (Raymond Burr) in that thriller bore a startling resemblance to the heavy set mogul.

Originally, Hitchcock wanted Gary Cooper for the title role in Foreign Correspondent with Joan Fontaine as his leading lady but eventually settled for Joel McCrea and Laraine Day. Although some critics viewed the film as a glorified B-movie after the lush production values of Hitchcock's Selznick films, Foreign Correspondent actually cost more to produce than Rebecca (1940), partly due to some very elaborate special effects.

Years later, during an interview with French director Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock admitted that the whole film grew from a few visual ideas of his own, "We started out with the idea of the windmill sequence and also the scene of the murderer escaping through the bobbing umbrellas. We were in Holland and so we used windmills and rain. Had the picture been done in color, I would have worked in a shot I've always dreamed of: a murder in a tulip field. Two characters: the killer, a Jack-the-Ripper type, behind the girl, his victim. As his shadow creeps up on her, she turns and screams. Immediately, we pan down to the struggling feet in the tulip field. We would dolly the camera up to and right into one of the tulips, with the sound of the struggle in the background. One petal fills the screen, and suddenly a drop of blood splashes all over it. And that would be the end of the killing."

Aside from the assassination that occurs in a crowd of photographers and that sequence in which the turning of a windmill reveals an important clue to the mystery, the most famous and costly scene in Foreign Correspondent is the spectacular plane crash. Regarding this sequence, Hitchcock told Truffaut "there's one shot so unusual that it's rather surprising that the technicians never bothered to question how it was done. That's when the plane is diving down toward the sea because its engines are crippled. The camera is inside the cabin, above the shoulders of the two pilots who are trying to pull the plane out of the dive. Between them, through the glass cabin window, we can see the ocean coming closer. And then, without a cut, the plane hits the ocean and the water rushes in, drowning the two men. That whole thing was done in a single shot, without a cut!....a lot of the material for that picture was shot by a second unit on location in London and in Amsterdam. This was in 1940, you see, and the cameraman who went over the first time from London to Amsterdam was torpedoed and lost all his equipment. He had to go over a second time."

While it's not in the same league with similar Hitchcock thrillers like The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938), Foreign Correspondent was enjoyed equally by the critics and the public and even managed to garner five Oscar nominations including Best Supporting Actor (Albert Bassermann), Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. Hitchcock was also nominated for Best Director that year - for Rebecca.

A final note of irony: While Hitchcock's anti-fascist message is evident throughout Foreign Correspondent, it was later reported that Nazi official Joseph Goebbels found the film very entertaining.

Producer: Walter Wanger
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Robert Benchley, Charles Bennett, Harold Clurman, (uncredited), Joan Harrison, Ben Hecht (uncredited), James Hilton, John Howard Lawson (uncredited), John Lee Mahin (uncredited), Richard Maibaum, Budd Schulberg (uncredited)
Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen
Cinematography: Rudolph Maté
Costume Design: I. Magnin
Film Editing: Dorothy Spencer
Original Music: Alfred Newman
Cast: Joel McCrea (Johnny Jones), Laraine Day (Carol Fisher), Herbert Marshall (Stephen Fisher), George Sanders (Scott Ffolliott), Albert Bassermann (Van Meer), Edmund Gwenn (Rowley), Eduardo Ciannelli (Mr. Krug), Martin Kosleck (Tramp), Ian Wolfe (Stiles).
BW-120m.

by Jeff Stafford

Foreign Correspondent

By early 1940, Europe was being divided and decimated by the Nazis but the official U.S. policy was still one of strict neutrality. Despite the fact that the British government urged their most famous native, Alfred Hitchcock, to remain in America during this time, the director desperately wanted to contribute to the British war effort so he sought out a property that would allow him to make a pro-Britain statement. The subsequent production, Foreign Correspondent (1940), is the story of an American correspondent (Joel McCrea) in Europe who becomes committed to the fight against fascism during his investigation of a kidnapped Dutch diplomat, a situation that requires him to travel from London to Holland. The source for Foreign Correspondent was Personal History, Vincent Sheean's autobiographical account of the growing political turmoil in Europe. Producer Walter Wanger had recently purchased the book for $10,000 and Hitchcock hired Charles Beaumont and Joan Harrison, both previous screenplay collaborators of his, to mold the material into a workable screenplay. When they were finished, very little remained from the original book with the exception of the opening scene in Holland. Ironically, even the completed screenplay of Beaumont and Harrison was drastically altered with Hitchcock bringing in a total of fourteen writers (including Robert Benchley and novelist James Hilton) before he arrived at a final version. Still, Foreign Correspondent was an enjoyable production for Hitchcock because he was on loan-out to Walter Wanger at United Artists where he was given free reign and not under the close scrutiny and autocratic rule of his regular employer, studio chief David O. Selznick. Huge creative differences existed between Hitchcock and Selznick and the director would later get his revenge on the producer with an in-joke in Rear Window (1954); The murder suspect (Raymond Burr) in that thriller bore a startling resemblance to the heavy set mogul. Originally, Hitchcock wanted Gary Cooper for the title role in Foreign Correspondent with Joan Fontaine as his leading lady but eventually settled for Joel McCrea and Laraine Day. Although some critics viewed the film as a glorified B-movie after the lush production values of Hitchcock's Selznick films, Foreign Correspondent actually cost more to produce than Rebecca (1940), partly due to some very elaborate special effects. Years later, during an interview with French director Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock admitted that the whole film grew from a few visual ideas of his own, "We started out with the idea of the windmill sequence and also the scene of the murderer escaping through the bobbing umbrellas. We were in Holland and so we used windmills and rain. Had the picture been done in color, I would have worked in a shot I've always dreamed of: a murder in a tulip field. Two characters: the killer, a Jack-the-Ripper type, behind the girl, his victim. As his shadow creeps up on her, she turns and screams. Immediately, we pan down to the struggling feet in the tulip field. We would dolly the camera up to and right into one of the tulips, with the sound of the struggle in the background. One petal fills the screen, and suddenly a drop of blood splashes all over it. And that would be the end of the killing." Aside from the assassination that occurs in a crowd of photographers and that sequence in which the turning of a windmill reveals an important clue to the mystery, the most famous and costly scene in Foreign Correspondent is the spectacular plane crash. Regarding this sequence, Hitchcock told Truffaut "there's one shot so unusual that it's rather surprising that the technicians never bothered to question how it was done. That's when the plane is diving down toward the sea because its engines are crippled. The camera is inside the cabin, above the shoulders of the two pilots who are trying to pull the plane out of the dive. Between them, through the glass cabin window, we can see the ocean coming closer. And then, without a cut, the plane hits the ocean and the water rushes in, drowning the two men. That whole thing was done in a single shot, without a cut!....a lot of the material for that picture was shot by a second unit on location in London and in Amsterdam. This was in 1940, you see, and the cameraman who went over the first time from London to Amsterdam was torpedoed and lost all his equipment. He had to go over a second time." While it's not in the same league with similar Hitchcock thrillers like The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938), Foreign Correspondent was enjoyed equally by the critics and the public and even managed to garner five Oscar nominations including Best Supporting Actor (Albert Bassermann), Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography. Hitchcock was also nominated for Best Director that year - for Rebecca. A final note of irony: While Hitchcock's anti-fascist message is evident throughout Foreign Correspondent, it was later reported that Nazi official Joseph Goebbels found the film very entertaining. Producer: Walter Wanger Director: Alfred Hitchcock Screenplay: Robert Benchley, Charles Bennett, Harold Clurman, (uncredited), Joan Harrison, Ben Hecht (uncredited), James Hilton, John Howard Lawson (uncredited), John Lee Mahin (uncredited), Richard Maibaum, Budd Schulberg (uncredited) Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen Cinematography: Rudolph Maté Costume Design: I. Magnin Film Editing: Dorothy Spencer Original Music: Alfred Newman Cast: Joel McCrea (Johnny Jones), Laraine Day (Carol Fisher), Herbert Marshall (Stephen Fisher), George Sanders (Scott Ffolliott), Albert Bassermann (Van Meer), Edmund Gwenn (Rowley), Eduardo Ciannelli (Mr. Krug), Martin Kosleck (Tramp), Ian Wolfe (Stiles). BW-120m. by Jeff Stafford

Critics Corner-Foreign Correspondent - Critics' Corner-FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT


"Walter Wanger's FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT shows how an extroverted young New York police reporter bags a scoop of international proportions on his first assignment abroad. He gets the girl, too, by overcoming nothing more formidable than the lady's instinctive coyness. As the film ends, the viewer is convinced that the hero will stride to one journalistic triumph after another, dragging his bride along over the dusty news beats of the world. Although 'Foreign Correspondent' originally was supposed to be based on 'Personal History,' the rotund Britisher Alfred Hitchcock has scuttled every vestige of the book and its author with as spine-tingling and hair-raising a melodrama as might be found in the censor-muddied waters of the European struggle. ...Joel McCrea proves to be a likable and credible citizen in the leading role. Laraine Day gets by nicely in her most ambitious part to date as Carol Fisher. Herbert Marshall appears to be thoroughly miscast as the big peace man who turns out to be something more than that. Robert Benchley carries off the acting honors as a broken-down American journalist in London - by acting himself. George Sanders, Albert Basserman, and Eduardo Ciannelli add much to the film. And despite occasional tedium; the direction of Hitchcock has brightened the shield he earned with 'Rebecca.'" - Newsweek, August 26, 1940.

"Foreign Correspondent will confuse cinemaddicts who may have heard that it began as a filming of Vincent Sheean's Personal History. ...Fourteen writers and $1,500,000 away from Personal History, it has nothing to do with Sheean and is easily one of the year's finest pictures....Best reporter in Foreign Correspondent is Hitchcock's camera. When a diplomat is shot, his camera is in the right place, looking at his face. When a man is about to drop from a tower, it watches a hat making the plunge first. When a wounded Clipper is hurtling down toward the sea, it is peering anxiously from the pilot's seat. It has, too, the supreme reporter's gift of not telling everything. Director Hitchcock, who claims to dislike actors and probably does, ordered several retakes of the wreck of the Clipper because it pleased him to see Actors McCrea and Sanders floundering in the water. ...As surprising a Hitchcock Trilby as was Joan Fontaine in Rebecca is Laraine Day (nee Johnson), a 19-year-old Mormon whose father was the first mayor of Roosevelt, Utah. In the excitement of making Foreign Correspondent, Hitchcock forgot his invariable signature, had to retake a scene in a railway station to get himself into the picture." - Time, September 2, 1940.

"Despite the now rather embarrassing propagandistic finale, with McCrea urging an increase in the war effort against the Nazis, Hitchcock's espionage thriller is a thoroughly enjoyable affair, complete with some of his most memorable set pieces. ...Something of a predecessor of the picaresque chase thrillers like Saboteur and North by Northwest, its main source of suspense comes from the fact that little is what it seems to be: a camera hides an assassin's gun, sails of a windmill conceal a sinister secret, and the sanctuary of Westminster Cathedral provides an opportunity for murder. Not one of the director's greatest - there's little of his characteristic cruelty or moral pessimism - but still eminently watchable." Geoff Andrew, Time Out Film Guide.

"Hitchcock appears to have concocted this spy thriller out of all the breathtaking climaxes he'd been hoarding; there's the assassination with the gun concealed by a newsman's camera, the Dutch windmill going against the wind, and a tremendous finale aboard a transatlantic plane from London on the very day war is declared. The plot that links all this is barely functional, and the jaunty reporter-hero (Joel McCrea) is held down a bit when he has to attend to the ever-busy heroine (Laraine Day), but the movie intermittently first-rate, and the topnotch supporting cast includes George Sanders, Albert Bassermann, Herbert Marshall, Edmund Gwenn, Martin Kosleck, Eduardo Ciannelli, Barbara Pepper, and Robert Benchley, who also had a hand in the dialogue." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies.

Awards and Honors:

Foreign Correspondent was nominated for an Oscar®? in 1941 in six categories:
Best Picture
Best Original Screenplay: Charles Bennett, Joan Harrison
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Albert Bassermann
Best Art Direction, Black-and-White: Alexander Goliten
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White: Rudolph Mate
Best Special Effects: Paul Eagler, Thomas T. Moulton

Compiled by John M. Miller

Critics Corner-Foreign Correspondent - Critics' Corner-FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT

"Walter Wanger's FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT shows how an extroverted young New York police reporter bags a scoop of international proportions on his first assignment abroad. He gets the girl, too, by overcoming nothing more formidable than the lady's instinctive coyness. As the film ends, the viewer is convinced that the hero will stride to one journalistic triumph after another, dragging his bride along over the dusty news beats of the world. Although 'Foreign Correspondent' originally was supposed to be based on 'Personal History,' the rotund Britisher Alfred Hitchcock has scuttled every vestige of the book and its author with as spine-tingling and hair-raising a melodrama as might be found in the censor-muddied waters of the European struggle. ...Joel McCrea proves to be a likable and credible citizen in the leading role. Laraine Day gets by nicely in her most ambitious part to date as Carol Fisher. Herbert Marshall appears to be thoroughly miscast as the big peace man who turns out to be something more than that. Robert Benchley carries off the acting honors as a broken-down American journalist in London - by acting himself. George Sanders, Albert Basserman, and Eduardo Ciannelli add much to the film. And despite occasional tedium; the direction of Hitchcock has brightened the shield he earned with 'Rebecca.'" - Newsweek, August 26, 1940. "Foreign Correspondent will confuse cinemaddicts who may have heard that it began as a filming of Vincent Sheean's Personal History. ...Fourteen writers and $1,500,000 away from Personal History, it has nothing to do with Sheean and is easily one of the year's finest pictures....Best reporter in Foreign Correspondent is Hitchcock's camera. When a diplomat is shot, his camera is in the right place, looking at his face. When a man is about to drop from a tower, it watches a hat making the plunge first. When a wounded Clipper is hurtling down toward the sea, it is peering anxiously from the pilot's seat. It has, too, the supreme reporter's gift of not telling everything. Director Hitchcock, who claims to dislike actors and probably does, ordered several retakes of the wreck of the Clipper because it pleased him to see Actors McCrea and Sanders floundering in the water. ...As surprising a Hitchcock Trilby as was Joan Fontaine in Rebecca is Laraine Day (nee Johnson), a 19-year-old Mormon whose father was the first mayor of Roosevelt, Utah. In the excitement of making Foreign Correspondent, Hitchcock forgot his invariable signature, had to retake a scene in a railway station to get himself into the picture." - Time, September 2, 1940. "Despite the now rather embarrassing propagandistic finale, with McCrea urging an increase in the war effort against the Nazis, Hitchcock's espionage thriller is a thoroughly enjoyable affair, complete with some of his most memorable set pieces. ...Something of a predecessor of the picaresque chase thrillers like Saboteur and North by Northwest, its main source of suspense comes from the fact that little is what it seems to be: a camera hides an assassin's gun, sails of a windmill conceal a sinister secret, and the sanctuary of Westminster Cathedral provides an opportunity for murder. Not one of the director's greatest - there's little of his characteristic cruelty or moral pessimism - but still eminently watchable." Geoff Andrew, Time Out Film Guide. "Hitchcock appears to have concocted this spy thriller out of all the breathtaking climaxes he'd been hoarding; there's the assassination with the gun concealed by a newsman's camera, the Dutch windmill going against the wind, and a tremendous finale aboard a transatlantic plane from London on the very day war is declared. The plot that links all this is barely functional, and the jaunty reporter-hero (Joel McCrea) is held down a bit when he has to attend to the ever-busy heroine (Laraine Day), but the movie intermittently first-rate, and the topnotch supporting cast includes George Sanders, Albert Bassermann, Herbert Marshall, Edmund Gwenn, Martin Kosleck, Eduardo Ciannelli, Barbara Pepper, and Robert Benchley, who also had a hand in the dialogue." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies. Awards and Honors: Foreign Correspondent was nominated for an Oscar®? in 1941 in six categories: Best Picture Best Original Screenplay: Charles Bennett, Joan Harrison Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Albert Bassermann Best Art Direction, Black-and-White: Alexander Goliten Best Cinematography, Black-and-White: Rudolph Mate Best Special Effects: Paul Eagler, Thomas T. Moulton Compiled by John M. Miller

Foreign Correspondent on Criterion Blu-ray!


Foreign Correspondent (1940) gets its due in Criterion's splendid new dual-format release. A single package contains one Blu-ray disc and two DVDs, with each format containing identical material: a beautiful 2K digital restoration of Alfred Hitchcock's classic film, plus a wealth of interesting extras.

Foreign Correspondent is prime Hitchcock that has often been undervalued as a merely routine work in his career. But while it certainly isn't as seamless or sophisticated as, say, Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), or Notorious (1946), it's still a tremendously exciting and visually witty movie -- perhaps just a step behind Hitchcock's very best. Some have argued that the film is underrated because it came out the same year as Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940), which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, but Foreign Correspondent itself was nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture and was a big box-office hit.

Whatever the reason, the film contains several scenes and moments that are among Hitchcock's all-time most famous, including the windmill scene, in which Joel McCrea notices one windmill turning the wrong way, a stunning assassination scene on a rainy Amsterdam sidewalk crowded with people and open umbrellas, and a climactic plane crash that still impresses with its visual effects.

Foreign Correspondent is of a piece with Hitchcock's earlier The 39 Steps (1935) and his later North By Northwest (1959); all three involve an ordinary man getting swept up in some sort of an international spy drama, and all three contain plenty of suspense, romance, humor, and travel to visually exotic locations. Here, Joel McCrea plays all-American news reporter Johnny Jones, who adopts the name Huntley Haverstock when he is assigned by his New York paper to cover the political situation in 1940 Europe. After he witnesses the assassination of a Dutch diplomat, he starts to unravel a spy ring that could affect the outcome of the impending war. Along the way, he develops a romance with the daughter (Laraine Day) of a British peace broker (Herbert Marshall) and gets out of various scrapes ranging from a near-death by windmill gears to a precarious walk on a hotel ledge clad in his bathrobe, one of several scenes that prefigures North By Northwest.

Also along the way, the characters (and audience) are kept apprised of rapidly developing events in Europe. This makes Foreign Correspondent a bit of a mishmash -- primarily a smoothly exciting entertainment, but with moments of topicality and propaganda sometimes conspicuously mixed in -- and it also reflects the fascinating competing agendas of director Alfred Hitchcock and producer Walter Wanger.

The politically active Wanger had in 1936 acquired the screen rights to Personal History, an award-winning book by reporter Vincent Sheean that functioned as both memoir and firsthand reportage of international political events of the 1930s, including the Spanish Civil War. As development of the script churned along, Wanger's desire for topicality meant that the substance of the script was continually changing, as events changed rapidly in Europe. After some failed attempts to get the film going, Hitchcock came on board and the film finally headed toward production. Wanger allowed Hitchcock to shape the story the way he wanted, but still insisted on propaganda elements intended to sway the public toward war. Hitchcock's main desire was simply to produce a suspense drama. The final result is a mixture of both men's goals, but Wanger seems to have given Hitchcock more freedom than producer David Selznick had on Rebecca, and that's why Foreign Correspondent feels more like what we think of as a Hitchcock film.

Hitchcock told Francois Truffaut that in his mind Foreign Correspondent was "pure fantasy," but he was also absorbing (unfair) criticism in 1940 for staying in Hollywood while his home country of England was at war, so he probably didn't mind the obvious propagandizing at the picture's end.

Overall, Foreign Correspondent plays very well, with good pacing through its two-hour running time and some satisfying Hitchcock humor mixed in. The main flaw is probably that the romance subplot doesn't come off very convincingly. Pretty Laraine Day is sufficient in her role, but a bigger star would have added more oomph, and maybe more heat. Claudette Colbert was originally considered for the role (to play opposite Charles Boyer), but she went off instead to do Arise, My Love (1940), which ironically had a very similar storyline.

Criterion has given Foreign Correspondent a lavish treatment. The digital restoration looks superb, with dirt and blemishes cleaned up without making the film look unnaturally sharp. And the company has produced some intriguing extra materials. In the 19-minute "Visual Effects in Foreign Correspondent," effects expert Craig Barron breaks down the magic behind the windmill and plane crash scenes, among others. The windmill landscape is an impressive matte shot with moving parts (actual rotating windmill blades) protruding through the painted backdrop, creating a spellbinding illusion of reality. And the moment of impact of the plane crash, though already described by Hitchcock in the Truffaut interview book and other sources, is explained here in great detail and even illustrated via a mockup of the set. Footage of the ocean shot from a diving plane was projected on rice paper, and at the right moment, water was sent crashing through the rice paper screen -- and hence "from" the water imagery -- directly into the cockpit set, a brilliantly simple device.

"Hollywood Propaganda and World War II" is a fascinating 25-minute featurette, illustrated with gorgeous stills, in which author Mark Harris discusses the propagandistic elements of Foreign Correspondent and places the picture within the context of other, more overt propaganda films that followed after Pearl Harbor. He also delves into the transition from "propaganda" films to "message" films after the war. Harris goes into more detail on the different agendas of Wanger and Hitchcock, and on the difficulties Wanger had because of the Breen Office's enforcement of a rule that films had to stay politically neutral, since the United States was not yet at war. That's why Hitler and Germany are barely mentioned in this film, and the villains are not explicitly described as Nazis. They are drawn instead simply as sinister Europeans and even speak a nonsensical language, albeit one that sounds like German. (It's claimed that it is German, spoken backwards!) However, there is no doubt in the audience's mind that the bad guys are meant to be German, and most viewers probably don't even notice the lack of specific labels.

Harris says that Foreign Correspondent is the "closest thing [Hitchcock] ever made to a message movie," and "its message of moving from neutrality...to intervention, and from disengagement to engagement, was very, very on point for 1940."

A third supplement is called "Have You Heard?" It's a series of still photographs that Hitchcock personally created for a 1942 edition of Life Magazine, telling a story that illustrates the dangers of loose tongues where war secrets are concerned. It's quite fascinating, and Hitch even makes a cameo appearance in one of the photos, a la his movie cameos!

Criterion has also thrown in a one-hour 1972 episode of the Dick Cavett Show in which Hitchcock is interviewed. (The present-day Cavett provides a brief introduction.) The director explains the visual effects of the boat crash and talks about his entire career, including what was then his newest film, Frenzy (1973).

Rounding things out are a 1946 radio adaptation starring Joseph Cotten, the film's trailer, and well-written liner notes by film historian James Naremore. Fifteen very nice stills are included in the booklet. It's all placed in a sturdy cardboard case with attractive blue-and-white artwork -- details that underscore how lovingly this entire package has been put together.

By Jeremy Arnold

Foreign Correspondent on Criterion Blu-ray!

Foreign Correspondent (1940) gets its due in Criterion's splendid new dual-format release. A single package contains one Blu-ray disc and two DVDs, with each format containing identical material: a beautiful 2K digital restoration of Alfred Hitchcock's classic film, plus a wealth of interesting extras. Foreign Correspondent is prime Hitchcock that has often been undervalued as a merely routine work in his career. But while it certainly isn't as seamless or sophisticated as, say, Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), or Notorious (1946), it's still a tremendously exciting and visually witty movie -- perhaps just a step behind Hitchcock's very best. Some have argued that the film is underrated because it came out the same year as Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940), which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, but Foreign Correspondent itself was nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture and was a big box-office hit. Whatever the reason, the film contains several scenes and moments that are among Hitchcock's all-time most famous, including the windmill scene, in which Joel McCrea notices one windmill turning the wrong way, a stunning assassination scene on a rainy Amsterdam sidewalk crowded with people and open umbrellas, and a climactic plane crash that still impresses with its visual effects. Foreign Correspondent is of a piece with Hitchcock's earlier The 39 Steps (1935) and his later North By Northwest (1959); all three involve an ordinary man getting swept up in some sort of an international spy drama, and all three contain plenty of suspense, romance, humor, and travel to visually exotic locations. Here, Joel McCrea plays all-American news reporter Johnny Jones, who adopts the name Huntley Haverstock when he is assigned by his New York paper to cover the political situation in 1940 Europe. After he witnesses the assassination of a Dutch diplomat, he starts to unravel a spy ring that could affect the outcome of the impending war. Along the way, he develops a romance with the daughter (Laraine Day) of a British peace broker (Herbert Marshall) and gets out of various scrapes ranging from a near-death by windmill gears to a precarious walk on a hotel ledge clad in his bathrobe, one of several scenes that prefigures North By Northwest. Also along the way, the characters (and audience) are kept apprised of rapidly developing events in Europe. This makes Foreign Correspondent a bit of a mishmash -- primarily a smoothly exciting entertainment, but with moments of topicality and propaganda sometimes conspicuously mixed in -- and it also reflects the fascinating competing agendas of director Alfred Hitchcock and producer Walter Wanger. The politically active Wanger had in 1936 acquired the screen rights to Personal History, an award-winning book by reporter Vincent Sheean that functioned as both memoir and firsthand reportage of international political events of the 1930s, including the Spanish Civil War. As development of the script churned along, Wanger's desire for topicality meant that the substance of the script was continually changing, as events changed rapidly in Europe. After some failed attempts to get the film going, Hitchcock came on board and the film finally headed toward production. Wanger allowed Hitchcock to shape the story the way he wanted, but still insisted on propaganda elements intended to sway the public toward war. Hitchcock's main desire was simply to produce a suspense drama. The final result is a mixture of both men's goals, but Wanger seems to have given Hitchcock more freedom than producer David Selznick had on Rebecca, and that's why Foreign Correspondent feels more like what we think of as a Hitchcock film. Hitchcock told Francois Truffaut that in his mind Foreign Correspondent was "pure fantasy," but he was also absorbing (unfair) criticism in 1940 for staying in Hollywood while his home country of England was at war, so he probably didn't mind the obvious propagandizing at the picture's end. Overall, Foreign Correspondent plays very well, with good pacing through its two-hour running time and some satisfying Hitchcock humor mixed in. The main flaw is probably that the romance subplot doesn't come off very convincingly. Pretty Laraine Day is sufficient in her role, but a bigger star would have added more oomph, and maybe more heat. Claudette Colbert was originally considered for the role (to play opposite Charles Boyer), but she went off instead to do Arise, My Love (1940), which ironically had a very similar storyline. Criterion has given Foreign Correspondent a lavish treatment. The digital restoration looks superb, with dirt and blemishes cleaned up without making the film look unnaturally sharp. And the company has produced some intriguing extra materials. In the 19-minute "Visual Effects in Foreign Correspondent," effects expert Craig Barron breaks down the magic behind the windmill and plane crash scenes, among others. The windmill landscape is an impressive matte shot with moving parts (actual rotating windmill blades) protruding through the painted backdrop, creating a spellbinding illusion of reality. And the moment of impact of the plane crash, though already described by Hitchcock in the Truffaut interview book and other sources, is explained here in great detail and even illustrated via a mockup of the set. Footage of the ocean shot from a diving plane was projected on rice paper, and at the right moment, water was sent crashing through the rice paper screen -- and hence "from" the water imagery -- directly into the cockpit set, a brilliantly simple device. "Hollywood Propaganda and World War II" is a fascinating 25-minute featurette, illustrated with gorgeous stills, in which author Mark Harris discusses the propagandistic elements of Foreign Correspondent and places the picture within the context of other, more overt propaganda films that followed after Pearl Harbor. He also delves into the transition from "propaganda" films to "message" films after the war. Harris goes into more detail on the different agendas of Wanger and Hitchcock, and on the difficulties Wanger had because of the Breen Office's enforcement of a rule that films had to stay politically neutral, since the United States was not yet at war. That's why Hitler and Germany are barely mentioned in this film, and the villains are not explicitly described as Nazis. They are drawn instead simply as sinister Europeans and even speak a nonsensical language, albeit one that sounds like German. (It's claimed that it is German, spoken backwards!) However, there is no doubt in the audience's mind that the bad guys are meant to be German, and most viewers probably don't even notice the lack of specific labels. Harris says that Foreign Correspondent is the "closest thing [Hitchcock] ever made to a message movie," and "its message of moving from neutrality...to intervention, and from disengagement to engagement, was very, very on point for 1940." A third supplement is called "Have You Heard?" It's a series of still photographs that Hitchcock personally created for a 1942 edition of Life Magazine, telling a story that illustrates the dangers of loose tongues where war secrets are concerned. It's quite fascinating, and Hitch even makes a cameo appearance in one of the photos, a la his movie cameos! Criterion has also thrown in a one-hour 1972 episode of the Dick Cavett Show in which Hitchcock is interviewed. (The present-day Cavett provides a brief introduction.) The director explains the visual effects of the boat crash and talks about his entire career, including what was then his newest film, Frenzy (1973). Rounding things out are a 1946 radio adaptation starring Joseph Cotten, the film's trailer, and well-written liner notes by film historian James Naremore. Fifteen very nice stills are included in the booklet. It's all placed in a sturdy cardboard case with attractive blue-and-white artwork -- details that underscore how lovingly this entire package has been put together. By Jeremy Arnold

Quotes

Mr. Haverstock, I want a talk with you.
- Captain of Mohican
Yes sir?
- Johnny Jones (Huntley Haverstock)
I just found out you're a newspaperman.
- Captain of Mohican
I guess that's right.
- Johnny Jones
Oh, it is, eh? Why didn't you tell me that when I questioned you? You lied to me, sir!
- Captain of Mohican
My dear captain, when you've been shot down in a British plane by a German destroyer, 300 miles off the coast of England (latitude 45), and have been hanging on to a half-submerged wing for hours, waiting to drown, with half a dozen other stricken human beings, you're liable to forget you're a newspaperman for a moment or two!
- Johnny Jones
I'm in love with a girl, and I'm going to help hang her father.
- Johnny Jones
I'm in love with you, and I want to marry you.
- Johnny Jones
I'm in love with you, and I want to marry you.
- Carol Fisher
Hmm... that cuts down our love scene quite a bit, doesn't it?
- Johnny Jones
I came 4,000 miles to get a story. I get shot at like a duck in a shooting gallery, I get pushed off buildings, I *get* the story, and then I've got to shut up!
- Johnny Jones
Hello, America. I've been watching a part of the world being blown to pieces. A part of the world as nice as Vermont, and Ohio
- Johnny Jones
, and Virginia, and California, and Illinois lies ripped up and bleeding like a steer in a slaughterhouse, and I've seen things that make the history of the savages read like Pollyanna legends. I've seen women--
- Johnny Jones
It's a raid; we shall have to postpone the broadcast.
- English Announcer
Oh, postpone, nothing! Let's go on as long as we can.
- Johnny Jones
Madam, we have a shelter downstairs.
- English Announcer
I think the world has been run long enough by well-meaning professionals. We might give the amateurs a chance now.
- Carol Fisher

Trivia

Robert Benchley was allowed to write his own lines.

Director 'Hitchcock, Alfred' wanted 'Cooper, Gary' for the lead instead of Joel McCrea, but Cooper wasn't interested in doing a thriller.

Shooting was completed on May 29, 1940, after which Hitchcock made a visit to England. He returned on July 3 with the word that the Germans were expected to start bombing at any time. Ben Hecht was hurriedly called in and wrote the tacked-on final scene set at a London radio station; it was filmed on July 5, and the real-life bombing started on July 10.

Albert Bassermann (who played the Dutch diplomat Van Meer) couldn't speak a word of English and learned all his lines phonetically.

early in the movie walking past Jonny Jones' hotel reading a newspaper.

Notes

The working titles of this film were Personal History and Imposter. According to news items in Hollywood Reporter, the title was changed when producer Walter Wanger decided not to use the book Personal History by Vincent Sheean as the basis for the film. Wanger had bought the rights to the book in 1934, but decided to discard it after he declared several screenplays based on the book unsatisfactory. The problems of dealing with sensitive war-related issues also influenced Wanger's decision. In a New York Times interview, director Alfred Hitchcock said that the plot of the film was sufficiently removed from actual hostilities to fall under the category of adventure yarn.
       Studio press releases contained in the production files of the AMPAS library list Hitchcock as one of the film's authors. Life credits Ben Hecht with screenplay, but he is not credited on screen, in Screen Achievements Bulletin, or reviews. Hitchcock makes his customary cameo in Foreign Correspondent by appearing as a man with a newspaper.
       The film received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Art Direction (Alexander Golitzen); Best Supporting Actor (Albert Basserman); Best Cinematography (Rudolph Maté); Best Special Photographic Effects (Paul Eagler); Best Sound (Thomas Moulton, chief sound engineer of U.A.); Best Original Screenplay (Charles Bennett and Joan Harrison). It also appeared on both Film Daily's and the National Board of Reviews "ten best" list for 1940.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1940

Released in United States November 1971

Released in United States November 1971 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Alfred Hitchcock Marathon) November 4-14, 1971.)

Re-released in Zurich August 2, 1991.

Released in United States 1940