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.

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(screenplay), (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:
... John Jones
... Carol Fisher
... Stephen Fisher
... Scott ffolliott
... Van Meer (as Albert Basserman)
... Stebbins
... Rowley
... Mr. Krug (as Eduardo Cianelli)
... Mr. Powers
... Tramp
Frances Carson ... Mrs. Sprague
... Stiles
Charles Wagenheim ... Assassin
... Latvian (as Edward Conrad)
... Bradley
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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:

The thrill spectacle of the year! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

16 August 1940 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Foreign Correspondent  »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$3,484,588
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (cut)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Walter Wagner described Alfred 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." See more »

Goofs

The hair of Carol Fisher is wet after she completely submerges next to ffolliott after the plane crash. In the exact next shot her hair is nearly dry again. See more »

Quotes

Mr. Powers: Wait a minute! I've got something that might pass for an idea.
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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 »

Connections

References Battleship Potemkin (1925) See more »

Soundtracks

Roses from the South, Opus 388
(1880) (uncredited)
Composed by Johann Strauss
Background music at a party
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User Reviews

 
"Hang onto your lights, America"
4 January 2007 | by See all my reviews

Admittedly, partly due to the presence of Joel McCrea, this is one of my favorite Hitchcock films. As with "Saboteur," Hitchcock wanted Gary Cooper (and in this case, Joan Fontaine - he wanted Barbara Stanwyck for "Saboteur) but couldn't get them. Cooper turned down the role of Johnny Jones and lived to regret it.

Today, "Foreign Correspondent" can be seen as a fierce call to bring America into the war. It's amazing today how long America stayed out. In the film, Johnny Jones, writing under the pen name of Huntley Haverstock, is given the assignment of going to Europe and digging around for information about the impending war - and particularly to have a conversation with Professor Van Meer, who may be one of the men who can help keep the peace. Johnny witnesses Van Meer being killed right in front of him, and chasing the perpetrators, he winds up searching a windmill, in one of the many remarkable scenes in the film. While on assignment, he falls in love with Carol Fisher, whose father is the head of a peace-making movement.

The film is striking for its underlying humor and lightness despite the seriousness and shock value of the events. It's also remarkable for some against type casting, i.e., George Sanders is a newsman and a good guy for a change, and Edmund Gwenn - Santa Claus! - is a killer. That's another remarkable scene.

There are several spectacular moments. The rainy scene on the steps when Van Meer is killed is one; when Jones looks for the perpetrator, all he can see is a sea of same-colored umbrellas. The windmills are another - claustrophobic inside, a peaceful picture outside. There is a marvelous shot of Johnny escaping from killers by slipping out of his hotel bathroom window and walking along the ledge. The lit-up sign HOTEL EUROPE can plainly be seen, and Jones breaks one of the lights as he goes by. Best of all is the airplane crash into the ocean which is fantastic and looks both agonizing and real. The final scene of the film, a radio broadcast, was added some time later - five days before the Germans started bombing, in fact.

Shot in black and white, "Foreign Correspondent" is loaded with atmosphere and the tension of the coming war. Joel McCrea, a very likable, easygoing actor in the same vein as Cooper, though maybe a bit livelier, is excellent in his role here as a gentle but adventurous man caught up in bizarre circumstances. Laraine Day, never used much by her own studio (MGM) and often loaned out, is great as the pretty, intelligent, and principled Carol. As Scott ffolliott, Sanders is charming and plays beautifully with Day and McCrea. Herbert Marshall has a slightly different role for him and is very effective.

Though many may not agree, I consider this one of Hitchock's best films and totally underrated. Why did Gary Cooper turn it down? It was a thriller, which in those days was considered a B-class genre. After "Foreign Correspondent," this was no longer true.


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