Foreign Correspondent ★★★½

Peaks in the middle with the visual joke of Joel McCrea on top of the hotel, busting the lights and creating "HOT EUROPE." It's that kind of winking amusement one requires from Hitchcock, the sense that even though the situation may be serious, there's still time for jokes and romance (what else are we fighting for?). The film is essentially a negotiation of producer Walter Wagner's attempt to enlighten the American people to the war across the Atlantic and Breen's adamant policy toward keeping political subjects mostly mute. The result is thus a "fun picture" with McCrea's boyish charms and idealism being the key to success against the two-sided Brits, spearheaded by Herbert Marshall's charmingly gloomy performance and George Sanders's stern determinism sitting across the table as his double, the good and bad side of stiff upper lips. The motivations and characterization fall apart during the final climax upon the plane—the whole inaction till the deus ex Nazi-cha arrives—leaving the characters with awkward line readings and shifty glances (for all his "cattle herding," Hitchcock's camera is primarily a psychological function, and the bland shot-reverse shot speaks to his own confusion with the material). The final re-written beat is what it is, a rally point that begins with The Lady Vanishes and ends with confronting the supermensch of Lifeboat, a worthy moment of patriotism for a Brit trying to be an American via an American trying to be a Brit.

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