For Hicksflicks.com, Feb. 14, 2014

Alfred Hitchcock's second American film (after "Rebecca") was "Foreign Correspondent" (1940, b/w), a first-rate wartime thriller made just as Europe was involved in World War II and America was on the brink of being drawn in.

Hitchcock's attempt to convey his own uneasiness at being a British expat away from home during such dire circumstances comes across very well in this story of an American newsman (Joel McCrea) caught up in rapidly changing European events as war looms.

And the film holds up terrifically as a suspenseful race against time set against the backdrop of spies and impending war, with several memorable set-pieces, especially the windmill that is the site of an assassination attempt and a plane crash in the sea.

McCrea is perfect as the everyman journalist whose forte is American crime, but who is thrust by his editor into the position of tracking down the real story of Europe on the cusp of war. As he does so he finds himself in the middle of a kidnapping, impersonations, double-crosses, several attempted killings and even finds time to fall in love with a diplomat's daughter (played by Mormon actress Laraine Day).

For some reason, "Foreign Correspondent" is often overlooked in the Hitchcock oeuvre, but it ranks up there with other, more respected thrillers by the Master of Suspense. Let's remember that although Hitchcock's film "Rebecca" won the best-picture Oscar, "Foreign Correspondent" was also nominated that year.

All of which may explain why the boutique label Criterion Collection is releasing (Feb. 18) a new Blu-ray/DVD combo set, with a striking restored print and bounteous bonus features, including an interview with Hitchcock discussing the film from "The Dick Cavett Show" and a radio adaptation starring Joseph Cotten.