Foreign Correspondent

Must-See Cinema! Hitchcock makes propaganda thrilling!

When we think of Alfred Hitchcock’s main preoccupations, we think of scares, mistaken identities, and chilly blondes – but probably not politics. The director rarely spoke publicly of his position on one issue or another, preferring instead to spend his time in the spotlight perfecting a persona of avuncular morbidity.

Poster art for Foreign CorrespondentBut Hitch was far from apolitical; rather, he baked his ideology directly into the crust of the films he made, no more so than in those he directed during WWII. Exhibit A is his rip-roaring spy-hunt thriller Foreign Correspondent.

Where 1938’s The Lady Vanishes operated in part as an allegorical critique of British appeasement, this quick-paced classic about an American journalist (Joel McCrea) in Europe searching for a kidnapped diplomat was geared toward influencing the U.S. out of its isolationist policies.

No less a source than Joseph Goebbels reportedly praised the film as superb propaganda. (Uh, thanks?) It’s far more than that, though, as evidenced by the fact that we’re still watching it raptly all these years later. Hitchcock brilliantly stages a rain-slicked assassination scene and follows it up with an iconic and nail-biting sequence set in a Dutch windmill, while the effortlessly charming George Sanders chews on delicious lines courtesy of a coterie of screenwriters including Ben Hecht and American witmonger Robert Benchley.

– Keith Staskiewicz, Entertainment Weekly

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