Saturday, May 24, 2014

FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (1940)

In the months leading up to WWII an American newspaper boss is frustrated with the lack of reliable information coming from his foreign correspondents, so he assigns a no nonsense crime reporter (McCrea) to the task.  McCrea's first assignment in Europe is to interview a Dutch diplomat named Van Meer.  Things happen and Van Meer is assassinated as he's talking to McCrea.  McCrea chases the killer and in doing so discovers that the victim of the killing was a double and Van Meer is actually alive!  McCrea is persuaded to briefly hold on to this information while they try to rescue Van Meer.  Meanwhile, enemy assassins are trying to kill McCrea and suppress his story.

I wasn't all that impressed with FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT.  The assassination scene and the subsequent chase scene are both well made and exciting...although the cops reaction times during the assassination were pathetic.  Other than those two sections (and a few bright moments with Laraine Day as McCrea's love interest) the rest of the movie is pretty dull.  Yeah, I'm sure audiences were thrilled at the airplane scene (although not too thrilled since the film lost money), but watching it nowadays it just doesn't hold up.  Moderate pace that needed speeding up, average acting, a large number of distracting mistakes, lots of scenes are obviously rear projected, heavy-handed propaganda throughout including the ending.  Worth a watch for those interested in Hitchcock, but it's nothing to get overly excited for.

After watching the film I did some reading up and I found this interesting quote from Joel McCrea talking about Hitchcock: "He had a habit of drinking champagne for lunch and I remember one day after lunch we shot a boring scene with me just standing there talking.  After it was over I expected to hear him call 'cut', but I looked over and he was sleeping, snoring with his lips sticking out.  I called for the cut, he woke up and asked if the scene was good.  I said 'The best in the picture.' and he said, 'Print it.'"  Hahaha.
Lights above the set clearly visible.

"Excuse me sir, it appears your mustache has fallen off."