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Harrison's Reports (1940) - Foreign Correspondent




"Foreign Correspondent" with Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall and George Sanders

(United Artists, August 16; time, 120 min.)

Very good ! Alfred Hitchcock again displays his amazing talents as a director. Using a story that might have been common-place in other hands, with master strokes, he makes it a thriller of the first order. There are situations that are so thrilling that one gets choked up and is held in tense suspense, not knowing what the end will be. Mention must be made of the excellent work done in creating realistic backgrounds of different European cities visited by the hero. The story has a significant political angle ; but it is of secondary importance to the melodramatic action, which is absorbing. The masses may find the beginning a little difficult to follow ; but as the story develops the action becomes clearer and easier to follow. The romance is worked into the plot in an intelligent and appealing way. The performances are all excellent :—

Harry Davenport, head of a large American newspaper, is disgusted with the inadequate news he had been receiving from his foreign correspondents. He decides to send to Europe Joel McCrea, a tenacious reporter who stopped at nothing to get his story. McCrea meets in Davenport's office Herbert Marshall, head of an international peace league that was trying to prevent war in Europe. When McCrea arrives in London he again meets Marshall ; also his charming, brilliant daughter (Laraine Day). McCrea tries to get information from Albert Basserman, an important political figure, about conditions, but in vain. Knowing that Basserman was expected at an important peace conference, McCrea waits outside in the rain so as to speak to him before he entered the meeting. Basserman arrives, but is assassinated before he could enter the building. McCrea sees the criminal enter an automobile and speeds after him. When he nears a windmill, the assassin's car suddenly disappears. McCrea sneaks inside the windmill and, to his amazement, finds Basserman, drugged and held by Germans prisoner. McCrea, realizing that an imposter had really been shot, goes for the police but by the time he returns with them no one is in the mill. Everyone laughs at his story. George Sanders, a London reporter, however, is interested. They discover that Marshall was really the head of the German espionage system, and that his purpose in kidnapping Basserman was to learn from him the secret terms of a treaty signed by several European countries. After many thrilling experiences they rescue Basserman; Marshall hurriedly prepares to leave by clipper with his daughter for America. McCrea and Sanders board the same plane. Having read a cable sent to Sanders that Marshall would be arrested on landing in America, Marshall reveals to his daughter the truth. Suddenly the clipper is attacked by German bombs and nose dives into the ocean. Only a few are saved. Marshall decides the best way out would be to drown himself. McCrea, who loved Miss Day, comforts her. They are rescued by an American liner bound for Europe. Through a ruse, McCrea manages to get his story through to his newspaper. Miss Day insists that he tell the truth. They marry and stay on in the war territory, from which McCrea sends his reports.

Charles Bennett and Joan Harrison wrote the screen play, and Walter Wanger produced it. In the cast are Robert Benchley, Edmund Gwenn, Eduardo Ciannelli, and others.

Class A.