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North by Northwest (1959)

Approved  |   |  Adventure, Mystery, Thriller  |  26 September 1959 (Japan)
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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 205,735 users  
Reviews: 499 user | 199 critic

A hapless New York advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies, and is pursued across the country while he looks for a way to survive.



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Top Rated Movies #66 | Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 8 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Josephine Hutchinson ...
Philip Coolidge ...
Patrick McVey ...


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. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Master of Suspense presents a 2000-mile chase across America! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

26 September 1959 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest  »

Box Office


$3,101,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)| |



Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In a TCM interview, according to screenwriter Ernest Lehman (who worked in close collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock), the working title was "In A Northwesterly Direction." The head of the Story Department at MGM said, "Why don't you call it 'North by Northwest'?" Lehman says that he and Hitch adopted that as the new working title, always assuming that they'd come up with something better. See more »


When Thornhill is escorted into the library of the Townsend Estate, the henchman locks the door with a key latch after he exits the room, but since the doors are solid french doors and the right side panel has latches (clearly visible), it would be easy to release the latches and pull both doors towards you to open both doors simultaneously, whether it is locked or not, therefore not really preventing him from escaping at will. See more »


Roger Thornhill: [as the police carry Thornhill out of the Art Auction Room, Roger says to the thug who tried to kill Roger twice before in the picture] I'm sorry old man. Too bad. Keep trying.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Right after his credit as director during the opening credits, Alfred Hitchcock is running toward the door of the city bus just as it slams shut on him! See more »


Spoofed in Dinosaurs: Scent of a Reptile (1994) See more »


Singin' in the Rain
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics Arthur Freed
Whistled by Cary Grant in Eva's apartment
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Strangers on a train
30 October 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

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.

49 of 69 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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