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Plot: Madison Avenue advertising man Roger Thornhill finds himself thrust into the world of spies when he is mistaken for a man by the name of George Kaplan. Foreign spy Philip Vandamm and his henchman Leonard try to eliminate him but when Thornhill tries to make sense of the case, he is framed for murder. Now on the run from the police, he manages to board the 20th Century Limited bound for Chicago where he meets a beautiful blond, Eve Kendall, who helps him to evade the authorities. His world is turned upside down yet again when he learns that Eve isn't the innocent bystander he thought she was. Not all is as it seems however, leading to a dramatic rescue and escape at the top of Mt. Rushmore. Runtime: 136 mins Release Date: 16 Sep 1959
Top-notch suspense /adventure film still looks great after 40 years! (by movieman9)
For Christmas this year, I received my first to-own DVD: Hitchcock's classic, NORTH BY NORTHWEST. After over 40 years, this rip-racing adventure-thriller still packs a punch and looks great on widescreen. This movie came along during a renaissance period for the Old Master, between masterpieces like VERTIGO and PSYCHO, but this excursion into the world of suspense is so different from anything else Hitchcock had created up to that point. Never did he challenge our endurance to keep still in our seats for such a long period of time, and yet the film's 135 minutes go by so fast it could <more>
only be explained by movie magic itself.Cary Grant is one of those actors that a filmgoer either falls in love with or deeply envies. His debonair manner is displayed to the full in this film, even though the peril that his character goes through would cause any normal dude to break into a maddening sweat. The dialogue Roger Thornhill delivers alongside Eve Kendall Eva Marie Saint in this film is sometimes too hilarious to be true, but wouldn't any woman fall for it? I'm merely guessing here Ernest Lehman's screenplay is so lighthearted and yet very ominous. With all the traps and pitfalls Grant goes through in this film, you would have to find comedy in it. Grant does and to great appeal. I absolutely love the sequence at the auction when Roger tries to get himself arrested by yelling out flaky bids and accusing the auctioneer of selling junk worth no more than $8. I also admire the scenes with Saint on the train to Chicago; I was tempted to jot down some of his pick-up lines, but then I realized it's just a movie or is it? Hitchcock was famous throughout his career of setting up death-defying sequences with major landmarks as backdrops. Here, Mount Rushmore will never be looked at the same again afterwards. We may never enter the United Nations again without peering behind our backs for a notorious knife-thrower. And, I dare say, I will never walk alongside a highway where a cropduster could swoop at any minute. I love the line during the Rushmore incident when Grant says his two ex-wives left him because he lived too dull a life. Go figure!It has been said that Hitchcock's many films each contain a personal side of the director inside them. The archetypes of the Master of Suspense are here amid the chasing and running across the U.S. The mysterious blonde, played to a tee by Eva Marie Saint, is a common fixture of many Hitchcock jaunts. Saint joins Grace Kelly and Tippi Hedren in this feature. The protagonist is again awkward when faced with the opposite sex, but unusually casual when wrapped up in danger. The hero has an attachment to his mother, continually under his nurturing wing. And of course, the macguffin has fun with us again government secrets my foot! Whenever I see action-packed epics today like "The Fugitive" or the James Bond series, they all seem to quiver in comparison to this film. It amazes me that Hitchcock is able to hold the audience in the palm of his hand throughout the whole length of the journey. We become Grant as he runs away from the police and the secret agents who have chosen him as their dupe. But throughout the squabble, we sense that Grant is getting off on the whole jaunt, just as we want the chase to continue, not looking at our watches for a minute. However, it's fascinating to note that Roger Thornhill is not a born adventurer, nor is he an archeologist with a flair for escaping impossible situations. We are experiencing the Cary Grant in all of us, running away from an enemy we do not know they are or what they want. Is this symbolism of some kind? I say who cares; just watch the film and have fun!
VERTIGO did nothing to advance Hitchcock's career in 1957 when he released it, and it's actually not a shame: the following year he decided to go completely against the slow-moving erotic thriller genre and do something shamelessly commercial, escapist and single-handedly create the spy movie. Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, states he based his character on the physical characteristics and the suave personality of Cary Grant, as an added note. This could well amount to be the first James Bond film -- a dangerous villain complete with a sidekick, an alluring woman with a <more>
dubious nature and an enigmatic "boss," a dashing hero, lush locales setting the scene for powerful chases and escalating danger.NORTH BY NORTHWEST has one crucial difference to any James Bond film, though: Alfred Hitchcock. While the Bond films have been seen as quintessential action fluff although fluff of the better kind until the franchise ran out of gas in the 80s , Hitchcock, always the master of subtext as well as suspense, creates memorable scenes that balance sexual tension, sexual innuendo, comedy, and mounting suspense seamlessly. There is never the feeling of being bored as there is too much going on, especially with the sizzling chemistry of Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant, by now a Hitchcock veteran. When they're on screen, dialog crackles and so much more is said with so little gesture -- she closes the lid on her Ice Goddess role, but gives it a nice, cheeky, knowing wink. He of course evolves from the sort of man who while looking and being slightly clumsy and under his mother's thumb -- once it becomes clear he's been marked and is a target for a sinister plot that only later becomes clear -- becomes more assertive in taking matters into his own hands. A quintessential Hitchcock Everyman, Grant has his stamp all over his role. No one can imagine anyone else running away from that crop duster in one of the movies many standout sequences, or saying the reassuring last words to Eva Marie Saint as they cuddle together in the train. When one thinks of NORTH BY NORTHWEST, one thinks Cary Grant.Easily one of Hitchcock's best films, made while he was at the peak of his career in the bracket formed with THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and MARNIE. Great supporting performances are all over the map, from Jesse Royce Landis as Grant's mother, James Mason as Phillip Vandamm, Martin Landau as Vandamm's protégée who might be a little more than that, and Leo G Carroll as The Professor. Doreen Lang appears early in the movie as Grant's secretary; she would of course be remembered as the woman who shrieks at Tippi Hedren in THE BIRDS and gets slapped by her as the camera holds itself tight on her face.
Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest" is one of the best films in his long and distinguished career. Part of the success of the movie lies in the screen play by Ernest Lehman, one of the best writers of that era. Also, the haunting music by Mr. Hitchcock's usual collaborator, Bernard Hermann, adds texture to what we are seeing. Together with all the above mentioned qualities, "North by Northwest" was photographed by Robert Burks and was edited by George Tomasini, both men did outstanding jobs to enhance a film that shows a mature and inspired Alfred Hitchcock.The <more>
film works because of the witty dialog Mr. Lehman wrote. This has to be one of the riskiest projects undertaken by Mr. Hitchcock because of the sexiness Eva Kendall exudes throughout the film and the repartee between her and Roger Thornhill. The film mixes adventure and romance that aren't put ons, as one feels what one's watching to be really happening.Much has been said in this forum as to the values of this classic, so we shall only add our pleasure in seeing this masterpiece any time it turns on cable. In fact, the film hasn't dated, the way some others of the same period have. The highlights of the film are the sequences involving the crop duster, the train ride to Chicago where Eve and Roger first meet, the auction, and the Mount Rushmore climax.This is one of the best contributions by Cary Grant to any of his work with the director. Roger Thornhill is one of the best roles Mr. Grant played, during his long career. His chemistry with Eva Marie Saint is perfect. This young actress added class and elegance to the picture. James Mason and Martin Landau played villains convincingly. Jesse Royce Landis, Leo G. Carroll, and the rest of the supporting cast is excellent."North by Northwest" is one of Alfred Hitchcock's best crafted films thanks to the brilliant people that came together to work in it.
North by Northwest and then some (by artoffilmorg)
Hitchcock at his sharpest. Art and commerce in a delicious salad with all the right ingredients. A brisk screenplay by Ernest Lehman a Cary Grant that is just pure delight, Eva Marie Saint fresh out of her Oscar from "On the Waterfront" is an icy blonde with a brain. James Mason, the ultimate foreign sinister not to mention Jessie Royce Landis and Hitchcock brings Bernard Herrmann to wrap it all up in one of the most infectious scores imaginable. A real treat.
Mr. Thornhill's Thorny Ordeal (by frankwiener)
Wedged between the making of two very serious, psychological suspense films, "Vertigo" and "Psycho", director Alfred Hitchcock created a very different kind of thriller, one consisting largely of comedy, both subtle and obvious, thanks in part to the talent of scriptwriter, Ernest Lehman. Hitchcock and Lehman started with three seemingly unrelated ideas, 1 a mistaken identity, 2 a chase scene through the United Nations, and 3 a spectacular finale at Mount Rushmore. They then wove these three events into one cohesive product, a fascinating creative process by <more>
itself.As to the acting, I have seen Cary Grant in many movies, including a number of mediocre items and even worse than that, but he provides the perfect Roger Thornhill with his dry, natural wit and suave, elegant appearance. Whenever I am faced with life's adversities, I only need to recall how Roger would approach the situation with his coolness and muted sense of humor. The fact that Grant did not understand Lehman's script only authenticates his genuine state of confusion as he is pursued from New York City to Rapid City, South Dakota by way of Chicago and some very dry Indiana cornfields. As the mysterious Eve Kendall, Eva Marie Saint is a very different woman indeed from her Oscar winning performance as Edie Doyle in "On the Waterfront", and she never ceases to intrigue us as a woman who is far more independent and sexually assertive than we would normally expect in 1959. And who could deliver those caustic, cynical lines as well as James Mason in the part of the deceptively "respectable" villain, Philip van Damm? Grant and Mason are an outstanding match, and they bring this film to a high level no pun intended when you consider the ending that it may not have achieved without their dynamic interaction.Throughout the film, subtle undercurrents flow beneath the surface, including Thornhill's curious relationship with his undermining mother Jesse Royce Landis , which may by itself explain his previous two divorces, and the quirky jealousy of van Damm's assistant thug, Leonard Martin Landau . When I first viewed this film at the innocent age of ten, I didn't appreciate the symbolism of the speeding train through the tunnel at the end, but I was nevertheless very impressed by the overall visual power created by Hitchcock, not only here but in many of his other productions as well.There were many memorable cinematic moments in this film, including an extraordinary aerial shot of Thornhill escaping from the United Nations building, a sudden showdown between man, a speeding oil tanker, and a menacing crop duster, and several, breathtaking shots from atop Mount Rushmore, both real and manufactured. As was the case with the Statue of Liberty in "Saboteur", the power of the monument is enhanced even more by the director's dramatic camera angles as it stands as an invincible symbol of the freedom that the evil elements in the film want to destroy.The success of "North By Northwest" is shaped by a combination of winning attributes, including a very gifted director, a sharp, snappy screenplay by Lehman, superb cinematography by Robert Burks, an effectively moody musical score by Bernard Hermann, and first-rate acting.
"North By Northwest" is an exceptionally entertaining spy thriller with something for everyone. Its heady mixture of suspense, romance, humour and intrigue make it a real crowd pleaser and its action sequences are delivered at an exhilarating pace. The wonderful locations chosen for many of the scenes are stunning and add enormously to the visual impact of the whole movie and the original screenplay by Ernest Lehman is sophisticated and witty and contains numerous quotable lines.This is a movie which undoubtedly appeals to a broader section of the public than any of Alfred <more>
Hitchcock's other offerings and also features one of his favourite themes i.e. a man who's falsely accused of something and then finds that his life descends into chaos as a consequence. Its story of mistaken and shifting identities is particularly engaging to audiences as it depicts how an ordinary man copes in a number of extraordinary circumstances and how he manages in a number of very dangerous predicaments from which there often appears to be no way out.Cary Grant is superb as the suave, fast talking Roger Thornhill who's kidnapped, jailed, framed for murder and made the victim of a number of attempts on his life. His skills are so versatile that he's equally convincing whether he's involved in a dramatic scene, an action sequence, a comic episode or even the type of risqué dialogue that he indulges in with Eva Marie Saint's character.Eve Kendall Eva Marie Saint is an elegant looking woman who makes both Roger and Vandamm James Mason very suspicious of her and also on some occasions finds herself in extreme danger. Eva Marie Saint projects Eve's mixture of mystery, humour and vulnerability in precisely the right measure for each situation and in so doing provides a very creditable performance. James Mason is also great as the cultured but utterly ruthless Vandamm who has a marvellous capacity for remaining completely unruffled at all times.The opening title sequence by Saul Bass is strikingly original and makes a great impact as does the use of the various high profile locations e.g. the United Nations HQ, the Plaza Hotel in New York, Grand Central Station and Mount Rushmore which contribute so strongly to making certain parts of the movie so memorable and so enjoyable.
I finally get how great it is: Hitch infuses his wrong-man caper with ironic movie language and reality-be-damned escapism and suspense. (by Ben_Cheshire)
Its Hitch's most briskly entertaining movie, and one of his most comic, adventure-caper type movies, largely thanks to the persona of Cary Grant. But its also one of his most suspenseful - in the fact that Grant is being recognised as someone else, and that he may be put in jail for someone else's crime.I've finally come to realise just how great North by Northwest is. The reason you should love Hitchcock is he put entertainment upfront. Hitchcock was not interested in whether this or that would happen in real life: he was interested in what would make the most entertaining scene <more>
for the movie. North by Northwest is a peak in this regard. The dialogue and situations intentionally throw reality to the wind - the double-entendre dialogue in the love scenes is not supposed to be the way people talk!If you said to Hitchcock "as if he'd keep driving" or "as if she'd do that" - he would just laugh at you and say you've missed the point. This is 100% movieland, and once you get used to the fact, and that this is not a fault in the film, but done intentionally, you'll love it. Its expressionistic - everything happens in movie language: the people laughing at Grant in the elevator, the way he keeps driving drunk near the beginning, the way he grabs the knife and everyone stares at him after someone's been stabbed.It flirts with the idea of identity. I thought it was interesting how Grant first is dismissing, then incredulous that people should be calling him by another name; then, as the tries to find out who this guy is, he enters the hotel room of this new identity, then he puts the suit on, and finally he identifies himself as George Kaplan.A succession of fantastic, memorable scenes, a great leading man in Grant, and one of Hermann's essential Hitch scores make for a movie i can put on at any time.10/10
The one famous gaffe people point out in this film is when a small boy can be seen plugging his ears just before Eva Marie Saint brings her café conversation with Cary Grant to a sudden end. Another gaffe, just as egregious and apparent but not nearly as commented on, is when Cary and Eva, clutching an incriminating statute, are rock-climbing around a quartet of famous presidential heads until a bad guy suddenly appears and leaps upon him. Whereupon the surprised, backward-falling Cary has the presence of mind to hand the statute to Eva, who takes his from him whilst in mid-scream. Do me a <more>
favor and read that last sentence again. What director today would allow such a scene past the editing room?But it just doesn't matter: IMDB voters at this writing have placed the 44-year-old `North By Northwest' ahead of all but 18 movies ever made, including 14 which have nothing to do with Frodo Baggins or Darth Vader. That's pretty damn impressive. What the hell were they thinking? The only Hitchcock movie they rate higher is "Rear Window;" I can think of at least seven or eight Hitchcocks I'd rank over "North By Northwest." [None of them are "Rear Window."]The truth is this film is so popular because it is so good. Not great, but very, very good, in a way that anticipates a lot of the direction of mass entertainment to come and thus speaks to people in a way `Vertigo' or `Strangers On A Train' do not. People talk about how forward thinking "Psycho" is, and it is, but more directors took note of the just-as-clever-but-more-mainstream approach of "North By Northwest." The last four decade have been chock full of flicks serving up suspense, sex, changing locales, and plot twists that play with viewers' expectations, all the while keeping the laughs coming. It's not like "North By Northwest" invented this formula, but it perfected and distilled it into an essence that is imitated, with varying success, to this day.Cary Grant plays slick adman Roger Thornhill, who gets mistaken for a fugitive named Kaplan and finds himself on the run from a slew of bad guys, led by James Mason at his smug and oily peak as Vandamme. Martin Landau makes his first memorable appearance as Mason's nastiest henchman Leonard 1959 was good to him, as "Plan Nine From Outer Space" premiered that year as well , suspicious, ruthless, and probably gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it was 1959 and that was a little daring.Daring also is Eva Marie Saint's Eve Kendall, a woman who uses sex, as Thornhill puts it, "the way some people use a flyswatter." Her repartee with Thornhill shows just how erotic two people just talking to each other can be. It also provides further evidence Hitchcock's writers didn't go out on many dates. Kendall: "I'm a big girl." Thornhill: "Yeah, and in all the right places." And she KISSES him for it! The film does chug slowly at the outset, building suspense but also bugging you a bit as the plot gears grind while Thornhill is being pushed through his early paces, right until his moment at the UN. About the time we find ourselves with Thornhill in the cornfield, the picture starts to pick up a serious head of steam, and never loses it all the way to the final, famous tunnel shot. Actually, I like the penultimate scene between Grant and Saint, an elegant and witty way of resolving that most tried-and-true device, the cliffhanger.As with most of Hitchcock's 50s fare, elegance is behind much of what makes this movie so great. `North By Northwest' manifests an elegance in dress, decor, language, music, and lighting that represents the best of its era while giving the picture a timeless character all the same. Hitchcock's camera movements are very subtle yet brilliant, as during Mason's entrance and Grant's hide-and-seek game around the train. Everyone has perfect hair, lounges about in gowns and jackets, and you never think it should be otherwise.Grant isn't my favorite actor, but he's smooth enough for the central role when he's not doing that bad Foster Brooks impression behind the wheel of the car. [I docked the movie one point just for that.] His best scene may be at the auction, though he projects real fear in the cornfield. Saint is simply splendid, nailing every line as she walks a tightrope and plays her character's motives close to her décolletage. Hitchcock seemed to lose his ability to direct female actors, and not merely bask in them, with the advent of color, but Saint is one blonde bombshell that gives us a sense of brains and personality behind her mystery.There's logic gaps in this movie, and bad process shots, but it's an amazing ride all the same, more amazing because it's done with smoke and mirrors and without apologies. You ask the questions and figure out the loopholes only after you walk away, because the movie doesn't let you up much while you are watching it. Hitchcock made other, more challenging movies that attested to his rare vision as an artist, but this is maybe his purest exercise in the craft of good filmmaking. That's why `North By Northwest' has remained so high in people's estimations. Whatever the errors, it's hard not feeling good about that.
"That wasn't very sporting, using real bullets." (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
Cary Grant handles the twisted expressions of his face, his astonished look, his impulsive smile with professional self-assurance and charm while taking us right in the middle of confusion on a breathless 2000-mile cross-country chase which has its gripping showdown across the giant faces of the presidents sculptured on Mount Rushmore high above Rapid City, South Dakota Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a stylish publicist, mistaken for a fictitious Federal agent, plunged into a world of crime and intrigue, hunted down by villains who want to eliminate him because he seems to be on their <more>
dishonest dealings When questioned by bland Phillip Vandamm James Mason , Thornhill is unable to convince him that he is a victim of a mistaken identity His three thugs fill him with bourbon, and place him in a stolen car expecting him to have a drunken accident After narrowly escaping death, no one believes his story including, obviously, his skeptical mother Jessie Royce Landis .In an effort to discover the agent he is being confused with, and using the clues he collected, Thornhill returns to the United Nations Headquarter looking for George Kaplan There, somebody falls into his arms and unthinkingly, Thornhill draws the blade out of the victim's back and is photographed holding the weapon in mid-air And thus became a fugitive from justice, pursued by the cops and had to skip by boarding a train to Chicago While on the run, he is caught by a provocative platinum blonde Eva Marie Saint , who comes out as a glamorous woman and a delightful charmer James Mason, a polished mastermind spy showed too well to be threatening... His menacing henchman, Martin Landau is also convincingly hurtful...In his fifth Hitchcock picture, Leo G. Carroll is suave and calm as the devoted intelligence chief Directed by a genius behind the camera, "North By Northwest" remains a genuinely exciting film for the dangerous world of spies and counterspies