Foreign Correspondent

Screening on Film
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
With Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall.
US, 1940, 35mm, black & white, 119 min.

Deemed a “masterpiece of propaganda” by Josef Goebbels, Hitchcock’s second American film smuggles its interventionist message under cover of a snappy espionage plot. Joel McCrea’s beat reporter is sent to Europe to scoop the impending war, but once there the guileless American finds danger hiding in plain sight: a debonair Peace Party diplomat conspires for war, an assassin poses as a newspaper photographer, and foretelling the open sightlines of North by Northwest’s crop duster sequence, William Cameron Menzies' brilliantly designed windmill spinning against the wind points the way to subterfuge. Ben Hecht dashed off the prescient closing speech imploring American action amidst rumors of an impending bombing campaign; as it happened, the Blitz began less than a month after Foreign Correspondent’s premiere.

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