A too-young Joel McCrea is out with his rich white yachting buddies when he decides to stay behind on a tropical island with the hot girl he met, who he soon learns is scheduled to be sacrificed to a volcano. Seems like this movie inspired both Joe vs. the Volcano and The Thin Red Line.

Ridiculous movie, but at least Dolores del Rio is good – and does some nude swimming.

Catching up on some early Criterion releases – this was filmmakers Schoedsack and Cooper and star Fay Wray’s precursor to King Kong. The Old Dark House, Island of Lost Souls, Vampyr and Freaks were also released in 1932, an amazing year for horror and horror-hybrids.

Leslie Banks (protagonist of The Man Who Knew Too Much) lords over a tiny jungle island where he hunts and kills people who shipwreck on his trap reef. Fellow hunter Joel McCrea (eight years before Foreign Correspondent, which was previously the earliest of his movies I’d seen) escapes a boat full of boring disaster-bait yachtsmen, and pals up with Fay Wray, while her doomed drunk brother (Robert Armstrong, the Jack Black of the original Kong) is killed offscreen. Banks, a great villain who might’ve seemed hammy had Armstrong’s drunk routine not far out-hammed him, chases the young couple with his bow, rifle, dogs, and mute guard played by Noble Johnson, a black actor in white-face. McCrea lays traps, which pro hunter Banks detects, and the good guys only win because of a lucky cliff fall.

The story by Richard Connell (who also cowrote Thrill of a Romance) has been filmed a million times, starring the likes of Sid Haig, Jane Greer and Richard Widmark. Good, short movie with some slick motion-camera shots.

Hitch’s quickie, less extravagant follow-up to the great Rebecca. He didn’t quite get the cast he wanted, ending up with Joel McCrea (just before Sullivan’s Travels), the poor man’s Gary Cooper, and Laraine Day (of the Dr. Kildare movie series), the poor man’s Barbara Stanwyck. A wartime spy flick, rather stiff with loose and uninteresting parts but a few great thriller setpieces to balance them out. Katy and I started it for being a TCM Essential, but only I saw the second half.

Joel, Laraine, and returning from Hitch’s Rebecca, Mr. George Sanders:

Take it away, TCM:

Official U.S. policy was still one of strict neutrality. Despite the fact that the British government urged their most famous native, Alfred Hitchcock, to remain in America during this time, the director desperately wanted to contribute to the British war effort so he sought out a property that would allow him to make a pro-Britain statement. The subsequent production, Foreign Correspondent, is the story of an American correspondent in Europe who becomes committed to the fight against fascism during his investigation of a kidnapped Dutch diplomat, a situation that requires him to travel from London to Holland.

I’d say Joel was more committed to following a hot story than to fighting fascism, but he certainly gets caught up in it, leading to a fantastic Great Dictator speech into a radio mic at the end as air-raid sirens howl, possibly the most thrilling last-minute ending to a Hitchcock film I’ve seen.

Van Meer, an Armin Mueller-Stahl-looking diplomat, knows a secret clause within a peace treaty that could help the other side when war breaks out, a macguffin that I never fully understood, but that’s why he’s kidnapped and tortured by baddies. Joel is present for VM’s assassination (my favorite scene, above), but smells a rat because the old man, usually very sharp, doesn’t recognize Joel although they shared a cab the previous day. In fact, a lookalike was murdered so nobody would search for the real VM. Joel follows the killer to a windmill for a fantastic sequence of hide and seek, then escapes from killers sent to his hotel room by first crawling out the window then using a comic room-service gag, is later assigned a bodyguard who tries to push Joel off a high building but falls off himself, and finally I was tuning out and didn’t follow exactly what led to the climactic plane crash, a miniature version of Lifeboat.

I read through D. Cairns’ post on the film looking for a great quote to steal, but they’re all great quotes, so I must instead link to the full article.