Friday, March 21, 2014

Foreign Correspondent (1940)

Beefing on Hitchcock
Foreign Correspondent

A reporter, new to overseas journalism, is sent to write on the looming threat of war in Europe, only to uncover a fiendish plot where he least expected it.

The same year Hitchcock was making Rebecca, he was also working on a spy thriller based on the memoirs of journalist and novelist Vincent Sheean. Foreign Correspondent fares much better as a "Hitchcock" movie than Rebecca did, probably due to the whole nefarious spy aspect along with chases across the countryside and far more suspense.

While it could be claimed that the film was a bit of fear-mongering and more than a tad propaganda, it only makes sense that the British Hitchcock would be more than happy to make a film exposing the basic reality of what was going on overseas. This was a couple years before the United States joined the war, and complacency and ignorance were definitely dominant in the country.

For a war spy movie, this one is actually quite good. There isn't much to complain about as far as the plot goes, and the romance feels natural and charming... All of the actors fit their roles perfectly... Actually, all of this near-perfection might just make Foreign Correspondent a bit too unremarkable. Nothing really stands out from any of "typical Hitchcock spy movie" except for George Sanders (also supporting in Rebecca), who pretty much steals the entire movie. I swear, I could just watch that man act all day.

Not only would I recommend watching this film at least once, but I will also recommend watching the new Criterion blu-ray release as the image and sound is probably better than it has ever been. The one and only thing I will happily complain about with this release is the complete and utter LACK of commentary track. Criterion is well known for their barrage of special features to their releases, and considering there is a wealth of Hitchcock historians who would readily record a commentary for any Hitchcock film, this just feels like a huge and significant oversight... as well as a seriously missed opportunity. Maybe I'm just bitter because I was actually looking forward to hearing all sorts of details about the film and its making.

But don't let any of that detract you from watching this picture, because it's actually quite entertaining and well worth the time.