W: Charles Bennett, Joan Harrison, James Hilton & Robert
Benchley [based on the novel "Personal History" by Vincent Sheehan]
DP: Rudolph Maté
Ed: Otho Lovering & Dorothy Spencer
Mus: Alfred Newman
PD: William Cameron Menzies & Alexander
Joel McCrea (John Jones / Huntley Haverstock), Laraine Day
(Carol Fisher), Herbert Marshall (Stephen Fisher), George Sanders (Scott Ffolliott), Albert Basserman (Van Meer), Robert Benchley (Stebbins), Edmund Gwenn (Rowley)
One of two American films directed by Alfred Hitchcock during
the course of 1940, the other being Best Picture Oscar winner Rebecca. The irony is, during that particular period of the 20th century, this is the more important movie, aiming to be an hugely
influential factor in American involvement in World War II. German minister Joseph Goebbels was himself impressed with the power of propaganda on display in the work.
Set during 1938, an American journalist is sent to various
cities in Europe to investigate senior figures in the prelude to the Second World War and becomes embroiled in espionage when a bureaucrat appears to assassinated in front of his very
Hitchcock brings his usual high standard to the work, which
begins quite slowly with a rambling narrative, before set piece events are reeled off one after the other; an assassination, a windmill harbouring a secret spy ring, an attempted murder at
Westminster Cathedral and a plane crash at sea. Massive credit must go to the production designers and special effects crew who, for such an old film, do a marvellous job in pulling off what
would have been deemed unachievable at the turn of the 1940's.
At the time of release, this would have been deemed one of the
greatest films ever made, but it would be far more appreciated if it were initially viewed before the outbreak of the war. Still, from a filmmaking perspective alone, it should be respected as a
brilliant piece of work.