Foreign Correspondent

Critics Consensus

Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent features a winning combination of international intrigue, comic relief, and some of the legendary director's most memorable set pieces.

94%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 36

81%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 6,882
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Movie Info

Fourteen scriptwriters spent five years toiling over a movie adaptation of war correspondent Vincent Sheehan's Personal History before producer Walter Wanger brought the property to the screen as Foreign Correspondent. What emerged was approximately 2 parts Sheehan and 8 parts director Alfred Hitchcock--and what's wrong with that? Joel McCrea stars as an American journalist sent by his newspaper to cover the volatile war scene in Europe in the years 1938 to 1940. He has barely arrived in Holland before he witnesses the assassination of Dutch diplomat Albert Basserman: at least, that's what he thinks he sees. McCrea makes the acquaintance of peace-activist Herbert Marshall, his like-minded daughter Laraine Day, and cheeky British secret agent George Sanders. A wild chase through the streets of Amsterdam, with McCrea dodging bullets, leads to the classic "alternating windmills" scene, which tips Our Hero to the existence of a formidable subversive organization. McCrea returns to England, where he nearly falls victim to the machinations of jovial hired-killer Edmund Gwenn. The leader of the spy ring is revealed during the climactic plane-crash sequence--which, like the aforementioned windmill scene, is a cinematic tour de force for director Hitchcock and cinematographer Rudolph Mate. Producer Wanger kept abreast of breaking news events all through the filming of Foreign Correspondent, enabling him to keep the picture as "hot" as possible: the final scene, with McCrea broadcasting to a "sleeping" America from London while Nazi bombs drop all around him, was filmed only a short time after the actual London blitz. The script was co-written by Robert Benchley, who has a wonderful supporting role as an eternally tippling newsman. Foreign Correspondent was Alfred Hitchcock's second American film, and remained one of his (and his fans') personal favorites.

Cast

Joel McCrea
as Johnny Jones
Laraine Day
as Carol Fisher
George Sanders
as Scott ffolliott
Herbert Marshall
as Stephen Fisher
Eddie Conrad
as Latvian Diplomat
Crauford Kent
as Toastmaster
Frances Carson
as Mrs. Sprague
Sam Adams
as Impersonator
Dorothy Vaughan
as Jones' Mother
Betty Bradley
as Cousin Mary
Mary Young
as Auntie Maude
Jack Rice
as Donald
Marten Lamont
as Clipper Captain
Hilda Plowright
as Miss Pimm
June Novak
as Miss Benson
Roy Gordon
as Mr. Brood
Bert White
as Passenger
Thomas Pogue
as Passenger
Jack Voglin
as Passenger
William Stelling
as Flight Officer
John Meredith
as Flight Officer
George Cathrey
as Flight Officer
Leonard Mudie
as Inspector McKenna
Holmes Herbert
as Commissioner Ffolliott
Emory Parnell
as John Martin, Captain of the Mohican
James Finlayson
as Dutch Peasant
Hermina Milar
as Little Dutch Girl
Douglas Gordon
as Taxi Driver
Colin Kenny
as Walter/Doctor
Paul Sutton
as Male Nurse
Jack Dawson
as Schoolmaster
Ken Christy
as Plainclothesman
Thomas Mizer
as Plainclothesman
June Heiden
as Two-year-old
Hans Von Morhart
as Dutch Policemen
Otto Hoffman
as Telegrapher
John George
as Bit part
Joan Leslie
as Jones' Sister
Paul Irving
as Dr. Williamson
Ferris Taylor
as Jones' Father
Harry Depp
as Uncle Biren
Ted Mapes
as Double for Joel McCrea
Meeka Aldrich
as Donald's Wife
Willy Castello
as Dutch Pilot
Bill Gavier
as Dutch Pilot
Jane Novak
as Miss Benson
Ian Wolfe
as Stiles the Butler
Herbert Evans
as English Doorman
Harry Semels
as Bit part
Frank Benson
as English Porter
Louis Borell
as Capt. Lansom
Gino Corrado
as Italian Waiter
Eily Malyon
as English Cashier
John Burton
as English Radio Announcer
Raymond Severn
as English Boy
Joe O'Brien
as Eton Boy
Billy Bester
as Eton Boy
Billy Horn
as Eton Boy
Ronald Brown
as Eton Boy
Louise Brien
as Secretary
Jack Alfred
as Copy Boy
E.E. Clive
as Mr. Naismith
Alfred Hitchcock
as Man with Newspaper
Wheaton Chambers
as Committeeman
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News & Interviews for Foreign Correspondent

Critic Reviews for Foreign Correspondent

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (2)

  • This film contains one of Hitchcock's most famous set pieces -- an assassination in the rain -- but otherwise remains a second-rate effort, as immensely enjoyable as it is.

    Mar 27, 2009 | Full Review…
  • Story is essentially the old cops-and-robbers. But it has been set in a background of international political intrigue of the largest order.

    Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Into it Director Alfred Hitchcock, whose unmistakable stamp the picture bears, has packed about as much romantic action, melodramatic hullabaloo, comical diversion and illusion of momentous consequence as the liveliest imagination could conceive.

    Jan 28, 2006 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Hitchcock's espionage thriller is a thoroughly enjoyable affair, complete with some of his most memorable set pieces.

    Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • A two-hour demonstration of what movies can be, and so rarely are.

    Aug 8, 2019 | Full Review…
  • ...registers most strongly as a piece of anti-isolationist propaganda.

    Jul 30, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Foreign Correspondent

  • Nov 27, 2018
    A spy thriller from Hitchcock which is fascinating in part because of its timing, with the world right on the cusp of war â" and in fact, it appeared in theaters in America just as the Battle of Britain began. Itâ(TM)s a propaganda film, and much as itâ(TM)s difficult to see those advocating peace or expressing optimism as being naïve, clearly it was on the right side of history. Itâ(TM)s a little awkward in some of its mechanics, melodramatic in its love story, and dubious on a central plot point, that thereâ(TM)s a secret clause in a treaty with vital national security information, not written down and only memorized by a single man on each side. You have to look past some of that to enjoy the film. There are several fantastic scenes, which (without spoiling them) include those on the steps leading to the conference and later inside a windmill in the Netherlands, at the top of Westminster Cathedral Tower, and in the airplane flying back to America towards the end. The film also has a strong cast, including Joel McCrea, Herbert Marshall, George Sanders, and Laraine Day.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 06, 2016
    Classic Hitchcock. Awesome film.
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • Mar 28, 2016
    Amusing enough, with a great cinematography and memorable set pieces, this is a passable film even with those irritating flaws that have become now the worst types of clichés, like a forced romance and how no one believes the main character and thinks he is crazy for no reason.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 27, 2013
    One of the most underappreciated films Foreign Correspondent has great action, acting and a compelling plot. One of the best early spy films.
    John B Super Reviewer

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