Cinema: The New Pictures: Sep. 2, 1940

  • Share
  • Read Later

I Love You Again (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) proceeds on the sound assumption that a conk on the head can gravely affect a man's deportment. Conkee is prim & proper Larry Wilson (William Powell), who thus gets over an eight-year-old case of amnesia, reverts to his former character of con man cum laude. He still pretends to be Larry Wilson for the sake of bilking his small-town cronies. His wife (Myrna Loy) walks through these comic revels as cool as a julep, never quite understanding the sudden transformation of the husband she was about to divorce. The reappearance of cinema's No. 1 man-&-wife team results in split-second timing of some of the sauciest dialogue since the Hays office eased the ban on innuendo.

Good shot: Powell arriving back at his home town of Habersville. Pa. after his recovery from amnesia. When his mother-in-law, whom he fails to recognize, rushes to embrace him in front of the crowd at the station, he points to Miss Loy, whispers confidentially: "Ixnay! The wife!"

Foreign Correspondent (United Artists) will confuse cinemaddicts who may have heard that it began as a filming of Vincent Sheean's Personal History. Producer Walter Wanger paid Sheean $10,000 for his thoughtful book, set two writers to adapting it, dropped the result in his wastebasket. Then he hired John Howard Lawson to write a new script on the adventures of a U. S. newspaperman in Spain and Germany, engaged Warner's star director, William Dieterle (Pasteur, Zola). Before the picture got into production, the Spanish War was over. Wanger paid Dieterle $50,000, started over again with two MARCH OF TIME radio scripters to tell the story in MOT fashion, then switched back to Sheean. After Hitler invaded Poland, Wanger dumped everything into the capacious lap of Director Alfred Hitchcock. He, together with Charles Bennett, James Hilton, Robert Benchley and Ben Hecht, evolved Foreign Correspondent. Fourteen writers and $1,500,000 away from Personal History, it has nothing to do with Sheean and is easily one of the year's finest pictures.

Hitchcock's foreign correspondent is one Johnny Jones (Joel McCrea), who gets his job because his boss thinks Europe ought to be covered by a crime reporter instead of an economist. Johnny gets his assignment to find out whether a Low Countries statesman named Van Meer (Albert Basserman) has a chance to delay war. Johnny's company includes a suave peace crusader (Herbert Marshall) and his wide-eyed daughter (Laraine Day), a cucumberish British newshawk (George Sanders), a character (Robert Benchley) who is to the life what Robert Benchley undoubtedly would be if he had been a foreign correspondent in London for 25 years. As usual, Hitchcock identifies his villains early, traps them late.

Best reporter in Foreign Correspondent is Hitchcock's camera. When a diplomat is shot, the camera is in the right place, looking at his face. When a man is about to drop from a tower, it watches a hat making the plunge first. When a wounded Clipper is hurtling down toward the sea, it is peering anxiously from the pilot's seat. It has, too, the supreme reporter's gift of not telling everything.

  1. Previous Page
  2. 1
  3. 2