This film is remarkable for several reasons, which are best enumerated and illustrated by reading through the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater’s Foreign Correspondent online exhibit. But I’ll endeavour to give you a brief summary here.
- Director Alfred Hitchcock was able to spin a gripping and oddly prescient tale of a fictionalised Second World War—which at the time of filming had really only just begun. In fact the Tripartite Pact (establishing the formal alliance of Axis powers Germany, Italy and Japan) was signed a month after principal photography had wrapped. The film opened to U.S. audiences at the commencement of the Battle of Britain, and a scene in which the Germans bomb London was echoed a week later when the Germans actually bombed London for the first time in that conflict.
- The art director had to build reproductions of Waterloo Station, the Hotel Europe, two ocean liners, a large flying boat, and a 3-storey windmill.
- Locations in Europe had to be re-shot after the ocean liner carrying the original location footage was torpedoed by a U-boat.
- A full-scale mock-up of an Imperial Airways Empire flying boat was constructed, at a cost of $47,000. A crash scene involving the mock-up added $250,000 to the film’s eventual $1.48 million price tag.
This film is definitely a priority in the growing list of films I need to see.