Film / Foreign Correspondent

One of Alfred Hitchcock's higher-budget productions, Foreign Correspondent (1940) is the story of American reporter Johnny Jones (Joel McCrea), who is sent to investigate the rumblings of war in Europe. Along the way, he uncovers a conspiracy, falls in love and possibly discovers the story of the century. The final scene resembles — but actually predates — Edward Murrow's broadcasts during the Blitz.

Co-starring Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, and George Sanders, the film lost the Academy Award for Best Picture to another Hitchcock film from the same year, Rebecca.

This work contains examples of:

  • Affably Evil: Fisher, the urbane, well-mannered Nazi spy, and Rowley, the cheerful Cockney assassin.
  • Alliterative Name / "Awesome McCool" Name: Johnny Jones has a "fresh, unused mind", but his publisher wants him to be taken seriously so Jones is given the posher-sounding name, "Huntley Haverstock".
  • Anti-Villain: Fisher again.
  • Battle in the Rain: The assassination of the Van Meer impostor, and Johnny's chase, take place in a driving rainstorm.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Many examples between Johnny and Scott, such as when they are discussing the ridiculous spelling of Scott's ridiculous last name while in a high-speed chase with an assassin.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Done to Van Meer, with a Nothing Is Scarier approach. Whatever it is, ffoliot is sickened and a female conspirator can't bear to watch, and he starts talking within seconds.
  • Cool Old Guy: Ambassador Van Meer, who stands up to his captors with an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech.
  • Creator Cameo: It's an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Here he is passing by on the street as Johnny leaves for the peace conference.
  • Dashingly Dapper Derby: Johnny keeps acquiring (and losing) these as a Running Gag.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Johnny Jones and Scott ffoliot.
  • Disney Villain Death: Rowley, who takes a plunge off a cathedral tower.
  • Driving a Desk: Multiple examples.
  • Evil Brit: Rowley and his employer Fisher. Averted with Scott.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Fisher is very fond of his daughter.
  • Follow That Car: Johnny dives into a cab to pursue the assassin.
  • Foreign Correspondent: Duh. Though the editor specifically doesn't want one of these.
  • Funny Foreigner: The Latvian delegate, who doesn't speak a word of English and has a permanent goofy smile, but gets a knowing look when he catches Johnny in Carol's room.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Fisher allows himself to drown in order to save his daughter, Johnny, and Scott. But mostly his daughter.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Johnny Jones.
  • It Will Never Catch On: The film opens with Johnny's editor receiving a telegram from one of his correspondents, dated Aug. 19, 1939, reporting "absolutely no chance of war on account of late crops."
  • Kidnapped by an Ally: ffolliot claims to have done this to extract information from Fisher.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Johnny's plane has come under fire from a German warship. A lady passenger expresses incredulous outrage, saying "I shall see the British consul as soon as I—", before she is killed by an anti-aircraft round.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: After Johnny and Carol rather matter-of-factly declare their love for one another, Johnny says "That cuts our love scene down quite a bit, doesn't it?".
  • MacGuffin: The secret clause in the treaty.
  • Mood Whiplash: For its first half hour, the film seems to be a light romantic comedy. Then the assassination sends it straight into Hitchcock's usual territory.
  • The Precarious Ledge: Johnny navigates one of these to escape the bad guys in his hotel room.
  • Retired Badass: Rowley, the Cockney assassin.
  • Revised Ending: The ending with Haverstock delivering a propaganda broadcast as bombs fall on London was written (by Ben Hecht) and shot after the rest of the film was completed. It replaced a more sardonic ending in which Ffolliott tells Haverstock how the enemies will likely cover up the incidents depicted in the main part of the film.
  • Rousing Speech: At the end of the film, in reality Hitchcock's plea for the Americans to help fight Nazi Germany.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Scott "ffoliot".
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Scott ffoliot, as with most characters played by George Sanders, is a perfect example.
  • Title Drop: It's Johnny's job, after all.
  • Windmill Scenery: Johnny pursues the assassin out of the city, into an area just covered in windmills. He goes to investigate the one windmill turning against the wind, and finds the assassin's accomplices holed up there.