Foreign Correspondent (1940)




Critic 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.

Foreign Correspondent Videos

Foreign Correspondent Photos

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.
PG (not rated)
Action & Adventure , Classics , Drama , Mystery & Suspense , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Warner Home Video

Watch it now


Joel McCrea
as Johnny Jones
Laraine Day
as Carol Fisher
George Sanders
as Scott ffolliott
Herbert Marshall
as Stephen Fisher
Edmund Gwenn
as Rowley
Albert Basserman
as Van Meer
Robert Benchley
as Stebbins
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
Henry Blair
as Child
Marten Lamont
as Clipper Captain
Barry Bernard
as Steward
Hilda Plowright
as Miss Pimm
Gertrude W. Hoffman
as Mrs. Benson
Ted Offenbecker
as Copy Boy
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
George B. French
as Bit part
Otto Hoffman
as Telegrapher
Charles Halton
as Bradley
John George
as Bit part
Joan Leslie
as Jones' Sister
Paul Irving
as Dr. Williamson
Ferris Taylor
as Jones' Father
Gwendolen Logan
as Bit part
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
Ernie Stanton
as Newsman
Donald Stuart
as Newsman
Harry Semels
as Bit part
Herbert Evans
as English Doorman
Frank Benson
as English Porter
Louis Borell
as Capt. Lansom
Gino Corrado
as Italian Waiter
Elspeth Dudgeon
as Spinster
Gwendolyn Logan
as Spinster
Eily Malyon
as English Cashier
Bunny Beatty
as Porter
John Burton
as English Radio Announcer
Raymond Severn
as English Boy
George Offerman
as Bit part
Lawrence Osman
as Eton Boy
Richard Hammond
as Eton 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
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Foreign Correspondent

Critic Reviews for Foreign Correspondent

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (4)

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.

Full Review… | March 27, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Story is essentially the old cops-and-robbers. But it has been set in a background of international political intrigue of the largest order.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
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.

Full Review… | January 27, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Hitchcock's espionage thriller is a thoroughly enjoyable affair, complete with some of his most memorable set pieces.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Creative Hitchcock thriller mixes fun, spectacular set pieces and political depth.

Full Review… | August 22, 2014
Classic Film and Television

While Albert Bassermann earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for a somewhat hammy turn, the best performance comes from George Sanders, atypically cast as a fearless and resourceful hero rather than the cads and scoundrels he generally played.

Full Review… | April 18, 2014
Creative Loafing

Audience Reviews for Foreign Correspondent

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 Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

It's fascinating watching war time dramas made during that particular war time, especially when it's from the 40s. Hitchcock once again delivers with this thrilling war story about an American journalist on assignment in Europe who stumbles upon a scoop that could really be THE story that cements his career. That particular scoop happens to be a group of spies humorously fronting as a pacifist organization. I think the structure and pacing could have been reworked, as a pivotal assassination scene happens fairly early, when I felt it should have happened at the midpoint. And, for a two hour film, it does feel a little long and disjointed. However, the film is still engaging enough that this is not a major flaw, and more of a personal nitpick. The two leads aren't the most compelling, for a Hitch film or otherwise, but they could probably be worse, and seem to be at least trying their best. Where the film really shines is in the other stuff, like the typically strong direction, the wonderful cinematography, and some impressive setpieces like the aforementioned assassination scene set amongst a sea of umbrellas, the super taut creeping around the windmill scene, and the awesome plane sequence. It's all some great stuff, you know, typical Hitch, but it's worth seeing. Really solid, pretty fun, and something you should check out, despite the flaws.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer


If it wasn't for the corny propaganda... But anyway a great little thiller with some impressive set pieces. Hitchcock didn't need an overly constructed plot to make it work, injecting his finesse and humour at every step. Current action/adventure filmmakers should take note of this fine example of escapist cinema.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

Foreign Correspondent Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Foreign Correspondent on our Movie forum!

News & Features