7.6/10
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133 user 78 critic

Foreign Correspondent (1940)

On the eve of World War II, a young American reporter tries to expose enemy agents in London.

Director:

Alfred Hitchcock

Writers:

Charles Bennett (screenplay), Joan Harrison (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Joel McCrea ... John Jones
Laraine Day ... Carol Fisher
Herbert Marshall ... Stephen Fisher
George Sanders ... Scott ffolliott
Albert Bassermann ... Van Meer (as Albert Basserman)
Robert Benchley ... Stebbins
Edmund Gwenn ... Rowley
Eduardo Ciannelli ... Mr. Krug (as Eduardo Cianelli)
Harry Davenport ... Mr. Powers
Martin Kosleck ... Tramp
Frances Carson Frances Carson ... Mrs. Sprague
Ian Wolfe ... Stiles
Charles Wagenheim Charles Wagenheim ... Assassin
Eddie Conrad ... Latvian (as Edward Conrad)
Charles Halton ... Bradley
Edit

Storyline

Johnny Jones is an action reporter on a New York newspaper. The editor appoints him European correspondent because he is fed up with the dry, reports he currently gets. Jones' first assignment is to get the inside story on a secret treaty agreed between two European countries by the famous diplomat, Mr. Van Meer. However things don't go to plan and Jones enlists the help of a young woman to help track down a group of spies. Written by Col Needham <col@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

MYSTERY IN WHISPERS that cracks like THUNDER! (original print ad - many caps) See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Dutch | Latvian

Release Date:

16 August 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Foreign Correspondent See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$3,484,588
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Walter Wanger Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producer Walter Wagner purchased the rights to Vincent Sheean's political memoir Personal History (1935) for ten thousand dollars. He decided to discard it after he declared several screenplays based on the book unsatisfactory. See more »

Goofs

When the "fake" Van Meer is murdered in Denmark, his assassin, with camera in hand, can be seen running from the steps into the crowds, in a long shot. In the next closeup jump shot, he's still on the stairs, before running off into the crowd for a second time. See more »

Quotes

Ffolliott: Ring Mayfair 24574...
Stebbins: [gets out notebook] Let me write that...
Ffolliott: Mayfair 24574. That's my cousin. He's the director of the airline. Tell him we need two seats on tomorrow's clipper for America. Then go to Hilton Nursing Home and stick by Van Meer. Then phone Miss Edith Armbruster, Kensington 66255. Tell her I'm off to America. Will she dine with me next Monday instead of tomorrow?
Stebbins: Sure.
Ffolliott: Then call up Stevens at The Post, tell him I'm off to America.
John Jones: Cable New York, tell them I'm off to America!
Ffolliott: [...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: To those intrepid ones who went across the seas to be the eyes and ears of America... To those forthright ones who early saw the clouds of war while many of us at home were seeing rainbows... To those clear-headed ones who now stand like recording angels among the dead and dying... To the Foreign Correspondents - this motion picture is dedicated. See more »

Alternate Versions

In the German version the final radio address was missing. The movie ends with the newspaper headlines. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990) See more »

Soundtracks

Harlem Congo
(1937)
by Chick Webb and his Orchestra, arr. by Charlie Dixon
[The phonograph record played by the kidnappers during Van Meer's interrogation]
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Cliveden Set
24 May 2007 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

In a recent viewing of my VHS copy of Foreign Correspondent, I hadn't realized how dated it was and also how silly the plot was. Not worthy of the master of suspense.

Foreign Correspondent was the second film that Alfred Hitchcock made in America and it was a one shot deal for independent producer Walter Wanger. That other well known independent producer David O. Selznick got some big bucks for Hitch's services.

Or maybe he saw how ridiculous the story line was for Foreign Correspondent. Hitchcock's all purpose McGuffin in this story is a person, the Dutch Foreign Minister played by Albert Basserman.

The devilishly clever Nazis hatch a scheme in which they kidnap Basserman, substitute a double and assassinate the double. So after getting Basserman, what do they do? They don't spirit him away to Germany, they take him to England instead. Supposedly so that collaborator Herbert Marshall can get the text of a secret clause in a treaty the Dutch have signed with some other country not named. A little sodium pentathol in Germany would have done the trick.

I think the idea was totally ridiculous and I can't believe Alfred Hitchcock didn't find it so.

The purpose of this film was an attack on those in Great Britain dubbed the Cliveden set who hung out at Lady Nancy Astor's estate named Cliveden. These folks wanted peace at any price with Hitler and it's still a subject today for debate whether they were just fools or out and out traitors. Hitchcock opts for the latter.

Still the film has its Hitchcockian touches his fans love so well. The chase scene through the windmill country, the climax when the Atlantic clipper with Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, George Sanders, and Herbert Marshall is shot down after war is formally declared. Even at that, I can't believe that a submarine possessed sufficient fire power to down an airliner, why didn't the airliner just raise altitude?

Joel McCrea was Hitchcock's second choice after Gary Cooper turned him down. Hitchcock and McCrea got along well, he wanted to use him for later films like Saboteur, but they never worked together again.

And that's a pity because Foreign Correspondent isn't Hitchcock at his best.


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