Foreign Correspondent (1940)
d. Alfred Hitchcock
Criterion Collection #696
Criterion Collection edition released 2/18/14.
Alfred Hitchcock arrived in Hollywood and released two films in 1940: Rebecca and Foreign Correspondent. Both were nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, Rebecca won, but Foreign Correspondent is probably the more relevant film in 2014, with a topical "Europe at the cusp of war" background and international spy story plot. John Jones (played by Joel McCrea) is a crime reporter working at a Daily paper somewhere in the United States. The editor, frustrated by the low quality of the reportage coming from his European reporters, sends Jones to the United Kingdom with the explicit direction to interview Dutch minister Van Meer, who "holds the key to war and peace" for unnamed reasons.
He chases Van Meer from London to Amsterdam, where Van Meer is (seemingly) shot in front of his very eyes- HITCHCOCKIAN HI JINKS ENSUE. There is laughter, tears, action sequences, unexpected plot twists, all of the elements of classic Hitchcock, right there the first year he shows up in Hollywood. Hitchcock is truly one of the paragons of artistic and commercial success in the area of film art. He was an inspiration for the "Auteur" concept, with his rigid control of every element of production from casting to, of course, directing.