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The Times (10/Oct/1940) - Entertainments: Foreign Correspondent

(c) The Times (10/Oct/1940)



As a newspaper correspondent the American crime reporter sent to ferret out the facts of a Europe on the edge of war will impress no intelligent newspaper reader. That is hardly to the point, however, for Huntley Haverstock, like most American journalists of fiction, is really a detective. As a detective he may be somewhat slow to follow the workings of the German spy machine, in which he finds himself an accidental spanner. That again is not to the point. He has all the luck of film detectives. Exciting things happen to him, and that is where Mr. Alfred Hitchcock comes in with his resourceful talent for making the horribly improbable seem humorously plausible.

The foreign correspondent witnesses a daring political assassination in Amsterdam. This is the pretext for a breath-taking chase through a forest of immense umbrellas, and the slow turning wheels and pulleys of a derelict Dutch windmill. The foreign correspondent takes to himself an English bodyguard, who tries to push his charge off the tower of Westminster Cathedral, and is himself hurled to destruction with the sound of a requiem Mass as ironic accompaniment to his fall. And so on, most admirably, to the shelling of the Atlantic Clipper by a German destroyer (intending passengers may be advised to avert their eyes from this brilliant sequence), the crash of the riven aeroplane, the struggle of the desperate occupants to save themselves — and the heroic self-abnegation of the villain! Mr. Herbert Marshall's pleasant playing of the German with an English veneer makes us glad of that saving incident, and the newspaper detectives of Mr. Joel McCrea and Mr. George Sanders are of course delightful. The villain was the father of the heroine, Miss Laraine Day. This first-rate tale of adventure takes its place in the programme to-morrow.