Foreign Correspondent (1940)

111 or 119 mins | Drama | 16 August 1940

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Personal History and Imposter . According to news items in HR , the title was changed when producer Walter Wanger decided not to use the book Personal History by Vincent Sheean as the basis for the film. Wanger had bought the rights to the book in 1934, but decided to discard it after he declared several screenplays based on the book unsatisfactory. The problems of dealing with sensitive war-related issues also influenced Wanger's decision. In a NYT interview, director Alfred Hitchcock said that the plot of the film was sufficiently removed from actual hostilities to fall under the category of adventure yarn.
       Studio press releases contained in the production files of the AMPAS library list Hitchcock as one of the film's authors. Life credits Ben Hecht with screenplay, but he is not credited on screen, in SAB , or reviews. Hitchcock makes his customary cameo in Foreign Correspondent by appearing as a man with a newspaper.
       The film received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Art Direction (Alexander Golitzen); Best Supporting Actor (Albert Basserman); Best Cinematography (Rudolph Maté); Best Special Photographic Effects (Paul Eagler); Best Sound (Thomas Moulton, chief sound engineer of U.A.); Best Original Screenplay (Charles Bennett and Joan Harrison). It also appeared on both FD 's and the National Board of Reviews "ten best" list for ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Personal History and Imposter . According to news items in HR , the title was changed when producer Walter Wanger decided not to use the book Personal History by Vincent Sheean as the basis for the film. Wanger had bought the rights to the book in 1934, but decided to discard it after he declared several screenplays based on the book unsatisfactory. The problems of dealing with sensitive war-related issues also influenced Wanger's decision. In a NYT interview, director Alfred Hitchcock said that the plot of the film was sufficiently removed from actual hostilities to fall under the category of adventure yarn.
       Studio press releases contained in the production files of the AMPAS library list Hitchcock as one of the film's authors. Life credits Ben Hecht with screenplay, but he is not credited on screen, in SAB , or reviews. Hitchcock makes his customary cameo in Foreign Correspondent by appearing as a man with a newspaper.
       The film received the following Academy Award nominations: Best Art Direction (Alexander Golitzen); Best Supporting Actor (Albert Basserman); Best Cinematography (Rudolph Maté); Best Special Photographic Effects (Paul Eagler); Best Sound (Thomas Moulton, chief sound engineer of U.A.); Best Original Screenplay (Charles Bennett and Joan Harrison). It also appeared on both FD 's and the National Board of Reviews "ten best" list for 1940. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
29 Aug 40
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 40
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 40
p. 11, 14
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 40
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 40
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jul 40
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 40
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Aug 40
p. 3.
Life
26 Aug 40
pp. 42-45.
Motion Picture Daily
28 Aug 40
p. 1, 6
Motion Picture Herald
31 Aug 40
p. 52.
New York Times
26 May 1940.
---
New York Times
28 Aug 40
p. 15.
New York Times
1 Sep 40
sec. 9, p. 3.
New York Times
14 Apr 40
sec. 9, p. 5.
Variety
28 Aug 40
p. 16.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Charles Waggenheim
Edward Conrad
Gertrude Hoffman
Martin Lamont
Rebecca Bohanon
Jackie McGee
Jack Dawson
Gwendolyn Logan
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Spec photog
European photog
Spec photog eff
Spec eff asst
Spec eff cutter
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir assoc
Spec prod eff
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Supv film ed
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Cost [supplied by]
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd film cutter
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Pilot
Still photog
Unit publ
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Imposter
Personal History
Release Date:
16 August 1940
Production Date:
18 March--5 June 1940
Copyright Claimant:
Walter Wanger Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
29 August 1940
Copyright Number:
LP9901
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
111 or 119
Length(in reels):
13
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
6409
SYNOPSIS

Disgusted by the publicity handouts that his foreign correspondents have been wiring in as news stories, the editor of the New York Morning Globe assigns crime reporter Johnny Jones to deliver the hard facts from Europe. Using the name Huntley Haverstock, Johnny voyages to London to interview Van Meer, a Dutch diplomat who has committed to memory a secret critical clause in the Allied Peace Treaty. In London, Johnny also meets Stephen Fisher, the head of a pacifist organization, and his daughter Carol. Becoming suspicious when Van Meer fails to appear to deliver his speech on how to avert war, Johnny follows the diplomat to Amsterdam. In the pouring rain in Amsterdam Square, Van Meer, who doesn't seem to know Johnny when the correspondent greets him, is shot on the stairs, and his murderer disappears in a sea of umbrellas. In pursuit of the murderer, Johnny meets Carol and ffolliott, a British correspondent, and they follow the assassin's trail to a windmill in the Dutch countryside. After sending ffolliott for the police, Johnny discovers a drugged Van Meer held captive by the Nazis, and learns that the man who was shot on the stairs was an imposter. Before ffolliott can return with the authorities, however, Van Meer's captors spirit him away, and when the police arrive, they refuse to believe Johnny's story. Refusing to abandon his search for Van Meer, Johnny returns to London where, while visiting Fisher, he recognizes one of the men from the windmill. Realizing that the pacifist must be a Nazi agent, Johnny teams with ffolliott to rescue Van Meer. When war is declared between ... +


Disgusted by the publicity handouts that his foreign correspondents have been wiring in as news stories, the editor of the New York Morning Globe assigns crime reporter Johnny Jones to deliver the hard facts from Europe. Using the name Huntley Haverstock, Johnny voyages to London to interview Van Meer, a Dutch diplomat who has committed to memory a secret critical clause in the Allied Peace Treaty. In London, Johnny also meets Stephen Fisher, the head of a pacifist organization, and his daughter Carol. Becoming suspicious when Van Meer fails to appear to deliver his speech on how to avert war, Johnny follows the diplomat to Amsterdam. In the pouring rain in Amsterdam Square, Van Meer, who doesn't seem to know Johnny when the correspondent greets him, is shot on the stairs, and his murderer disappears in a sea of umbrellas. In pursuit of the murderer, Johnny meets Carol and ffolliott, a British correspondent, and they follow the assassin's trail to a windmill in the Dutch countryside. After sending ffolliott for the police, Johnny discovers a drugged Van Meer held captive by the Nazis, and learns that the man who was shot on the stairs was an imposter. Before ffolliott can return with the authorities, however, Van Meer's captors spirit him away, and when the police arrive, they refuse to believe Johnny's story. Refusing to abandon his search for Van Meer, Johnny returns to London where, while visiting Fisher, he recognizes one of the men from the windmill. Realizing that the pacifist must be a Nazi agent, Johnny teams with ffolliott to rescue Van Meer. When war is declared between England and Germany, Carol and her father escape aboard a clipper bound for America, only to discover that Johnny and ffolliott are on the same flight. When the plane is shot down, Fisher, realizing that he faces arrest, sacrifices his life to save the others, who are rescued by an American ship. Once safely on board the vessel, Johnny is banned from wiring the story to his paper, but he subverts the captain's orders by giving the details under the guise of a personal phone call and soon becomes America's voice from Europe. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.