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Criterion Collection: Foreign Correspondent [Blu-ray] [1940] [US Import]

Joel McCrea , Herbert Marshall , Alfred Hitchcock    Blu-ray
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

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Criterion Collection: Foreign Correspondent [Blu-ray] [1940] [US Import] + The 39 Steps: Special Edition [Blu-ray]
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Product details

  • Actors: Joel McCrea, Herbert Marshall
  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Format: Black & White, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Classification: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 18 Feb 2014
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,506 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



The first of Alfred Hitchcock's World War II features, Foreign Correspondent was completed in 1940, as the European war was only beginning to erupt across national borders. Its titular hero, Johnny Jones (Joel McCrea), is an American crime reporter dispatched by his New York publisher to put a fresh spin on the drowsy dispatches emanating from overseas, his nose for a good story (and, of course, some fortuitous timing) promptly leading him to the "crime" of fascism and Nazi Germany's designs on European conquest.

In attempting to learn more about a seemingly noble peace effort, Jones (who's been saddled with the dubious nom de plume Hadley Haverstock) walks into the middle of an assassination, uncovers a spy ring, and, not entirely coincidentally, falls in love--a pattern familiar to admirers of Hitchcock's espionage thrillers, of which this is a thoroughly entertaining example. McCrea's hardy Yankee charms are neatly contrasted with the droll English charm of colleague George Sanders; Herbert Marshall provides a plummy variation on the requisite, ambiguous "good-or-is-he-really-bad" guy; Laraine Day affords a lovely heroine; and Robert Benchley (who contributed to the script) pops up, albeit too briefly, for comic relief.

As good as the cast is, however, it's Hitchcock's staging of key action sequences that makes Foreign Correspondent a textbook example of the director's visual energy: an assassin's escape through a rain-soaked crowd is registered by rippling umbrellas, a nest of spies is detected by the improbable direction of a windmill's spinning sails and Jones's nocturnal flight across a pitched city rooftop produces its own contextual comment when broken neon tubes convert the Hotel Europe into "Hot Europe". --Sam Sutherland

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pure Hitchcock 16 Dec 2003
This is the master at his most characteristic, if not quite on his best form. A hugely enjoyable propaganda romp with first rate performances all round (take note of Robert Benchley and Edmund Gwenn in minor roles). The film is a model of economy and for those looking for Hitchcock's visual 'touches' we have the assasin fleeing through a crowd of umbrellas, to quote only the most memorable (and in the opening credits, the world becomes an American newspaper building). The plot is poppycock of course, but so what.
The feel, I think is closer to the earlier British films than some of his other Hollywood movies, perhaps because it was propaganda. The rousing speech at the end has obviously lost something over the years but it was there to do a job. Lovely.
The film looks good on DVD, but why no extras?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HOT(EL) EUROPE 3 Sep 2007
"Foreign Correspondent" (1940) was Alfred Hitchcock's second American film after the fabulous "Rebecca" (1940) and what film it is. It got everything you need for a thriller: Newspaper reporters; espionage; traitors; car chases; plane crashes; sea rescues, romance; war; assassinations; political conspiracies and bell towers, oh and let's not forget windmills. Not only that but cinematography by none other than Rudolph Mate whom serious cinema buffs know as the cinematographer of films like the sublime "The Passion of Joan of Arc" (Dreyer,1928), "Vampyr" (Dreyer,1930); Dodworth (Wyler,1936); Stella Dallas (Vidor,1937) and "To Be Or Not To Be" (Lubitsch,1942) all of which are regarded as classics. "Foreign Correspondent" also has some fine energetic performances from Joel McCrea (Sullivan's Travels, 1941; The Palm Beach Story,1942) and Laraine Day as well as supporting cast of Herbert Marshall, George Sanders and Albert Basserman. The special effects are just remarkable especially the scene at sea which is just impossible to believe was shot in a MGM studio. "Foreign Correspondent" is a fan favourite and without a doubt a thriller masterpiece even German Propaganda minister Goebbels refered to it as "A masterpiece of propaganda, a first-class production". "Foreign Correspondent" opened at cinemas August 16, 1940 just three weeks before the start of the Blitz which is depicted at the end of the film.

The DVD transfer is of a good standard although the soundtrack could be better. There are no extras.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A safe buy 28 April 2003
The titles of the new Universal Hitchcock edition are very cheap, and evidently the films are not remastered in any way. Some titles, such as 'Suspicion', suffer terribly, others, like this 'Foreign Correspondent', were transferred from serviceable prints, and are therefore wonderful to watch.
'Correspondent' belongs up there among the Hitchcock greats, one of the most virtuosic of cinematographic orchestrations, just watch the long, infernally exciting sequence when the plane is shot down and dives into the sea - riveting! The scenes in the Dutch windmill are vintage Hitchcock, and Joel McCrea proves to be one of the master's most personable of heroes.
The script is wonderful, and one readily 'forgives' the patriotic schmaltz of the finishing line, when McCrea broadcasts his impressions of wartime Europe, as the blitz of London sets in and all lights go out. "Hang on to your lights", he implores his countrymen. "They are the only lights left in the world". Maybe George W. Bush should be persuaded not to watch so many films!
Anyway, this one is a safe buy.
So do it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No Subtitle at all 21 April 2012
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I love the movie, but there are no english subtitles.
I like to watch movies with English subtitles, because sometimes I can't catch up with the dialogue.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poor presentation of great film 21 April 2009
This is not quite top-notch Hitchcock, but still a great movie. Unfortunately this UK DVD edition contains a mediocre print and no extras. Avoid this at all costs and instead get the US R1 Warner Bros edition which has a better print transfer, and contains the theatrical trailer and a making of documentary "Personal History: Foreign Hitchcock".
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worthy film on an Unworthy disk 19 April 2003
This 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film has everything you’d expect: Romance, spies, kidknapping, murder, fine acting and great special effects (for the year it was made).
However, this DVD edition has NOTHING in the way of any special features, trailers, or even subtitles. This is not what DVD’s were made for.
No doubt our Region 1 friends will eventually get the attention this movie deserves.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Another of Hitchcock's "forgotten" classics, few realise that this film was nominated for SIX Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

It's certainly difficult, even more than 65 years after it was made, to watch this without one eye on the propaganda "message" of the film, but Hitch's first thought was always towards the entertainment value of his movies. And whilst this may not be a North By Northwest, say, it certainly deserves to be ranked towards the upper echelon of his efforts.

Johnny Jones (or Huntley Havestock if you will) is an American journalist sent to London to eek out a war story for his newspaper. He finds himself battling against mysterious forces after witnessing the apparent assassination of peace activist Van Meer.

Joel McCrea is strong as the eponymous hero of the hour, although he is hampered by some ridiculous flaws within his character, and whilst Laraine Day is good as the love interest Carol Fisher, their romance is perhaps less than believable. Whereas in the 39 Steps you could see why Pamela would fall for Richard Hannay, despite her initial frostiness to his behaviour, it jars just how quickly Fisher starts to believe Jones/Havestock and falls in love with him.

There are some good supporting performances as well, not least Herbert Marshall, as one of Hitchcock's trademark cultured villains, which go a long way to overcoming the few minor problems that exist with the film. Albert Bassermann, despite learning English phonetically for the part, managed to grab a best supporting nomination at the Academy Awards.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Early Hitchcock
This is a very dated early Alfred Hitchcock. Well performed if slightly corny, but an enjoyable nonetheless.
Published 1 month ago by Bandauk
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A masterpiece !!!
Published 2 months ago by neil moray urquhart phelps
3.0 out of 5 stars Time passer with eerie end sequence
Ignorant American reporter Joel McCrea (John Jones) is given the pseudonym Huntley Haverstock and sent on a mission to Amsterdam to get a story about politician Albert Bassermann... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Alex da Silva
4.0 out of 5 stars An Early Gem
A hugely enjoyable comedy thriller from Hitchcock.Criterion have to be congratulated on their beautiful transfer.Start your Hitchcock collection right here.
Published 4 months ago by Luke Weston
3.0 out of 5 stars Read all about it!
Hitchcocks second American foray is a romping flag waver echoing themes presented in the 39steps and subesquently followed in Saboteur. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Steven
5.0 out of 5 stars What a lot of Umbrellas!
Joel McCrea wasn't Hitchcock's first choice for the role of intrepid newspaperman Johnny Jones (aka Huntley Haverstock) in this espionage drama set just before World War II and... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mr. R. D. M. Kirby
4.0 out of 5 stars Hartley Haverstock - another great Hitchcock name
Its reputation seems to have declined somewhat over the years but it seems to be the link between The 39 Steps and North By Northwest - the three great Hitchcock chase films. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mario
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD
Look forward to watching this film again. Very good service. Love Alfred Hitchcock. I shall be purchasing more in the future.
Thank you.
Published 16 months ago by p. steinitz
4.0 out of 5 stars They don't make 'em like this anymore!
Adventure; intrigue; romance; can be watched with all the family - you can't ask for better than that! Great stuff and lots of fun!
Published 20 months ago by vivienne evans
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Espionage/Chase Tale From Hitch
This 1940 film from Alfred Hitchcock is another in his (relatively) long line of chase/spying storylines, and, being made at the onset of WWII, also contains the perhaps obligatory... Read more
Published on 26 Oct 2012 by Keith M
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