18 OCTOBER 1940, Page 12

THE CINEMA - .. Foreign Correspondent." At the Gaumont.—" Andy Hardy

Meets Debutante." At the Empire.—" Front Line." ..ct all cinemas.

IN Rebecca Alfred Hitchcock showed that Hollywood had sup- plied for him two essentials which had been markedly lacking

in his long and successful career in British studios. The first

was full and unstinted film-making facilities. The second was good producership. Rebecca, for all its faults, had qualities both of technique and imagination which transcended anything Hitchcock had achieved over here. Apparently --the long tradi- tions of Hollywood really do mean something.

Certainly in Foreign Correspondent this always talented director has made his best film ; and it is no detraction from

Hitchcock's own qualities to emphasise the fact that it was made under the producership of Walter Wanger, one .of the most enlightened and talented of the younger school of Hollywood tycoons. The story tells of a young American reporter sent to Europe to cover the European crisis (is it war?), who becomes involved in a series of fantastic adventures which include the kidnapping of an elderly Dutch statesman and the unmasking of the head of a great peace organisation as a super- fifth-columnist. The story moves with brilliant rapidity, and the locations are lavishly varied. We have an assassination in a rainstorm at the Hague, with the murderer escaping through a forest of gently tossing umbrellas ; there is attempted murder on the tower of Westminster Cathedral ; torture in Charlotte Street ; suspense in a sinister windmill ; comedy in a Cambridge hotel ; a plane crash in mid-Atlantic ; and a B.B.C. broadcast during an air-raid. Nearly every scene is shot with imagination, wit, and understanding, and the choice of cast is not merely unerr- ingly correct but also highly unorthodox. It is, for instance, surprising and also very gratifying to find both Herbert Marshall and Edmund Gwenn playing the parts of double-dyed villains and ceding not a whit to Eduardo Cianelli in wickedness. The hero and heroine are very well portrayed by Joel Macrea and Laraine Day, and Albert Basserman, as the kidnapped Dutch statesman, gives a most moving and powerful performance. George Sanders as a journalist, Robert Benchley as a soak tem- porarily on the waggon, and Eddie Conrad as an incoherent but beaming Latvian diplomat are others whose acting gives the film that polish which even many Hollywood productions often lack.

Moreover, Foreign Correspondent, in addition to being the most excitingly shot and edited film of the year (always except- ing The Grapes of Wrath) has certain propaganda points which are of special interest. Albert Basserman's fiery accusation of the fifth-columnist has an international validity, not merely because it is essentially sincere, but also because it sides with the ordinary people of all lands. And the final sequence, in which the American journalist broadcasts to his countrymen during an air- raid on London, has a validity which is important because it .represents a section of American thought speaking to America as a whole. The air-raid scenes are hardly accurate either in fact or atmosphere, but the thesis to which they give a setting is all the more heartening in that it is directed not at Ourselves but at our transatlantic brothers. In any case, propaganda or no propaganda, Foreign Correspondent is a superb piece of film- making and first-class entertainment.

The Hardy family has deteriorated a good deal since sex entered Andy's young life. In Andy Hardy Meets Debutante the entire family goes to New York, and Andy's ventures into high society bring disasttous results which only fortuitous circum- stances can (and of course do) resolve. The film is also inter- larded with sententious and slightly smarmy sentiments about American democracy, which are all devoted to proving that small- town boys have an equal chance in life with the Four Hundred. The cast is the usual, with the welcome addition of Judy Garland ; and, as usual, the whole hotch-potch is made bearable by Mickey Rooney's brilliant acting. Front Line is a Ministry of Information Five-Minute film made by the G.P.O. Film Unit, with Harry Watt directing. It is easily the best of the series so far. The scene is Dover under blitz conditions, and the quality of the film lies in the series of vivid verbal interviews with inhabitants of the town, ranging frOm the Mayor, rampant in bowler hat on the sea-front, to housewives, AA. gunners, A.F.S. men, and housewives again. The film is an accurate, humorous and truthful portrayal of Britons standing up to violent onslaught. Few ,films since the war began have so genuinely hit the mood and spirit of the