It’s not often that I come across an Alfred Hitchcock film that I haven’t seen, but Philip Kemp’s Movies book, but Foreign Correspondent was one of them. I was completely delighted with this one, and loved how the story played out as an American reporter heads to Europe and the UK to investigate the brewing rumours of war. It’s fascinating to see films dealing with the spectre of the rise of World War II before its conflict burst across the shores of the world.
Joel McCrea plays John Jones an American crime reporter who’s blunt investigative style leads to his assignment (and expense account) to head across the pond and try to talk with Van Meer (Albert Bassermann), a Dutch diplomat and Stephen Fisher (Herbert Marshall), the head of the Universal Peace Party, to get an inside look about what their goals are, and if they believe peace with Nazi Germany is possible, and if they can avert a war before it happens.
Along the way, he meets Fisher’s daughter, Carol (Laraine Day), and the seeds of a romance are planted. But when Van Meer is apparently assassinated very publicly in front of Jones (a fantastically shocking moment that you don’t expect at all – though the assassin’s escape into the sea of umbrellas could have been orchestrated a little better) he finds himself drawn into a web of mystery and conspiracy on the eve of war.
I loved this one, from Hitch’s cameo, to the way he uses humour at the beginning of the film to get us to like the characters, and then plunge us into a dark mystery thriller. McCrea is perfectly cast, and the two hour film moves along at a brisk entertaining clip, never letting up for a moment, not until those credits roll. And that ending!
Though it didn’t win any, the film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, which again just leaves me dumbstruck that I hadn’t seen it before. This one is an exceptional Hitchcock film filled with humour, a dash of romance, and tons of suspense all happening on the edge of real world events that changed the world forever.
My exploration of film will continue as I delve into more movie books to come across titles I’ve yet to review, or perhaps we’ll see some of my discs that I haven’t written about before find their way onto the blog.
Either way there is so much more to come!