North by Northwest (1959)

97% – Critics
94% – Audience

North by Northwest Storyline

Manhattan advertising executive Roger Thornhill is already having a hectic day with a jammed packed schedule for its remainder. That schedule takes a turn when he is detained during a business lunch by two men he doesn’t know who proceed to kidnap him. Unsure why anyone would want to kidnap him, he discovers the man behind the kidnapping, a Lester Townsend, believes him to be someone named George Kaplan. Townsend wants information from Kaplan, but is prepared to kill Kaplan with or without that information, Kaplan’s death meant to look like an accident or suicide. Thornhill is eventually able to escape from his captors. While he does connect with the authorities who do not believe his story, Thornhill subsequently has to go on the run as he becomes implicated in a murder connected to he being Kaplan. As such, Thornhill has to find out what’s going on on his own with whatever information he has on hand, most of it gleaned during his captivity: he being able to identify Townsend, his wife, their housekeeper, and three of the thugs working for Townsend; the address of Townsend’s mansion where he was being held captive; and Kaplan’s recent whereabouts and future movements in what seems to be some tour of the United States, those next two locations being Chicago, Illinois and Rapid City, South Dakota. In his travels in evading both Townsend’s people and the authorities, Thornhill gets some willing assistance from a beautiful young blonde woman he meets, industrial designer Eve Kendall, whose help is despite she knowing who he is from the newspaper reports of him being wanted for murder. They eventually fall for each other. She, however, may have some undisclosed ulterior motive for helping him. All the while, Kaplan’s people have been and are continuing to watch the proceedings from the sidelines, what they deciding to do largely to protect “Kaplan” from being discovered by “Townsend”.

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North by Northwest Movie Reviews

Strangers on a train

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 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.

Wow…how did I forget to review this great film?!

While I am sure that there is a lot of debate on this issue, but I’d say that this is Alfred Hitchcock’s best film. It combines a marvelously original script with romance and wonderful location shooting to make a truly fabulous film.

I love how this film begins. Ordinary New Yorker Cary Grant (or at least as ordinary as any guy looking like that can be) goes out to mail a letter and, through a long string of mistakes, becomes entangled in an assassination plot! The problem is that at first the police don’t believe him about some weird plot–then they assume HE is responsible for the killing! The film is chock full of crazy iconic scenes–such as Grant being pursued by an evil crop duster and Grant and Eva Marie Saint scaling down the faces on Mt. Rushmore to escape the killers. Along the way, Hitchcock goes crazy with very, very sexual Freudian imagery (the tunnel scene is a classic) and provides some wonderful moments using wonderful actors. Grant, as always, is great but I also liked Martin Landau’s small role as a killer who REALLY likes his job and the rest of the cast is also stellar. This is a must-see film and one of the best films of the decade.

By the way, this film, despite being so wonderful also has one of my favorite film mistakes–and I am sure to watch for it every time. In the scene at the UN, pay very, very close attention when Grant tries to talk to the man he is pursuing. Although the man is shot dead unexpectedly right next to Grant, apparently one of the extras (a kid in the foreground) is anticipating the shooting before the gun has even been drawn. Look carefully–the kid is plugging his ears well before the shot occurs!!!

Enormously entertaining film from Alfred Hitchcock!

My favourite director, Alfred Hitchcock has directed many classics like Psycho, Rear Window and Vertigo, and I will say that this deserves to be up there among his best. I absolutely loved it! The best aspect of this movie is the always charming Cary Grant in a brooding and entertaining performance as Roger Thornhill, a man wanted for the murder of a diplomat. Solidly supporting him all the way are the lovely Eva Marie Saint as Eve Kendell and oily James Mason as the villainous Vandamme. They are further advantaged by some excellent camera-work and a wonderfully atmospheric music score. The script is focused and suspenseful, and Hitchcock’s direction ensures the film rarely slips, even if some of the complicated plot does fly over people’s heads. The climax though is simply the icing on the cake. Overall, a hugely enjoyable film, which I will give a 9.5/10. Bethany Cox