Joel McCrea, Laraine Day, Herbert Marshall, George Sanders
Johnny Jones: I’m in love with you, and I want to marry you.
Carol Fisher: I’m in love with you, and I want to marry you.
Johnny Jones: Hmm…that cuts down our love scene quite a bit, doesn’t it?
It’s 1939 (I assume) and a newspaper reporter, Johnny Jones (McCrea), is sent to Europe to dig up facts about the impending war. When he witnesses the assassination of a diplomat who was about to sign a peace treaty, Jones is caught up in a mystery that could put his own life at stake.
This is another early(-ish) Alfred Hitchcock movie, and it’s not one of my Hitchcock favorites. I believe my main issue with it is that leading man Joel McCrea is a big dull dud. I didn’t think he had any charisma whatsoever, which made it hard to believe the much too hurried romance. This is the kind of role that Cary Grant would later excel at in other Hitchcock movies. I think he would have taken this movie to another level.
The plot is okay, but it never felt like anybody was in any serious danger throughout it, so the few cat and mouse games between the characters lacked a certain punch. Other than the rather intense assassination scene, the movie felt too lighthearted considering the subject matter. It also had a somewhat bizarre pro-United States message at the end that seemed oddly out of place (unless it was intended to encourage the U.S. to get involved in the war).
George Sanders probably provides the best character as Scott ffolliott (there’s a funny scene where he explains the double lower case Fs), a British reporter who is skeptical of Jones’ story at first. Day and Marshall are both fine in their roles, but nothing special.
The best stuff in the movie is probably the sets and the camera work. There’s a great scene at a windmill that the assassin flees to, and a pretty decent looking plane crash later on. It all looks good, and the movie seems like it should be working, but there was a certain impact missing from most of the scenes. Maybe it goes back to McCrea’s performance not holding my attention, or maybe it’s just not that compelling of a story.
Hats are important. Always wear a hat! …Hats!
10 – 2.2 for McCrea’s less than inspiring performance – 1.5 because it seemed overlong and not very compelling = 6.3