In all honesty, I have had a hard time finding the relationship, or rather the purpose of the relationship, between the film and book versions of Foreign Correspondents. The main characters share a similar name (Johnny Jones and Johnnie James), so clearly Howard is reaching out to this film in an important way. One thing I noticed is the way the gender of the characters seems to inform the rest of their characteristics.
For instance, Johnny’s idea of “foreign” is travel, overseas, war, uncovering a story, etc. His purpose in Europe is to learn what he can about the impending war, which turns into a great story about finding the truth. However, Johnnie’s idea of “foreign”, as we have discussed in class, is the male sphere. She focuses on the domestic: “home and heart, heart and health, sense and sensuality” (2). By trying to write for men’s magazines instead, she is stepping into “foreign” waters.
In addition, their genders also play a role in how they each interpret romantic situations/feelings. Johnny pursues his love interest, Carol, rather unabashedly, and is successful. Even before they have had a love scene together, they both agreed they were going to get married. Johnny behaves confidently, even when his feelings are strong (for example, when he is at the Fisher dinner party and Carol is speaking – he has sent her notes all evening and stares at her affectionately until she has lost her train of thought), and this leads to his romantic success. Johnnie, in great contrast, does not behave confidently, especially when her feelings are strong. When she is writing her emails to Scooter, she second-guesses herself immediately upon hitting the “send” button. She is driven to act because of her feelings, but doesn’t believe in her actions because she lacks the confidence. It seems that male and female factors are at work in these characters, leaving the man more confident in pursuing than the woman.
Lastly, there is some duality in each of their characters. Johnny Jones goes by the name Huntley Haverstock while he is in Europe, although he makes it known that that is just an alias. At first, there is intended to be a separation between his American and European identities, but that line becomes blurred and he goes by either name. Meanwhile, Johnnie spends a portion of the book writing to her friend of the same name, Johni. Not only does their name tie them together, but Johni is the only other character whose responses are present. She and Johnnie also correspond with one another in similar ways (briefly commenting on what the other has said and swiftly moving on to what is happening in their own lives), so I have been thinking of them as two halves of the same coin.