In its day, Foreign Correspondent was more than just a good movie (it earned six Oscar nominations), it was also the beginning of Hitchcock's propaganda films, as he (along with many European filmmakers) made movies to compel the U.S. to enter WWII.
Correspondent has intrigue, adventure, charisma, and romance, but it sadly never makes it to classic status. The story is globetrotting tale of an American reporter (Joel McCrea) who heads to London to expose a spy ring. En route he falls in love and is drawn into a major drama with international ramifications.
Heavy stuff -- so why isn't Foreign Correspondent a classic in Hitchcock's oeuvre? The problems here are minor, but they add up. McCrea, an old western star, doesn't have any of the charisma of a Cary Grant or Jimmy Stewart. Leading actress Laraine Day (who?) is nowhere near a Grace Kelly Correspondent's adventure isn't nearly the thrill of, say, North By Northwest. And the love story can't even hold up to, say, Dial M for Murder. Hitch does do some of his best direction here -- most notably a set piece in which a character is assassinated, and the killer makes his escape through a throng of umbrella-toting bystanders; Hitch shoots the scene from above, and we see nothing but a sea of umbrella domes.
But little touches like this feel exactly like that: The highlights that happen between long stretches of talky plot progression where nothing much happens. We don't really care about McCrea or his quest, but in the end we can at least muster a bit of a shrug for him. Ultimately, Foreign Correspondent works best for what it was designed for: Propaganda.
The new DVD adds a making-of documentary to the mix.