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North by Northwest (1959)

8.5
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 172,431 users  
Reviews: 472 user | 194 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 250 #61 | Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 7 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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Storyline

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

Plot Keywords:

spy | advertising | agent | escape | murder | See more »

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 September 1959 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest  »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,101,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)| |

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

While filming Vertigo (1958), Alfred Hitchcock described some of the plot of this project to frequent Hitchcock leading man and "Vertigo" star James Stewart, who naturally assumed that Hitchcock meant to cast him in the Roger Thornhill role, and was eager to play it. Actually, Hitchcock wanted Cary Grant to play the role. By the time Hitchcock realized the misunderstanding, Stewart was so anxious to play Thornhill that rejecting him would have caused a great deal of disappointment. So Hitchcock delayed production on this film until Stewart was already safely committed to filming Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder (1959) before "officially" offering him the North by Northwest (1959) role. Stewart had no choice; he had to turn down the offer, allowing Hitchcock to cast Grant, the actor he had wanted all along. See more »

Goofs

At Cary Grant's character's table in the Mount Rushmore cafeteria the salt and pepper shakers move around constantly from shot to shot, yet neither character ever touch them. See more »

Quotes

Phillip Vandamm: What possessed you to come blundering in here like this? Could it be an overpowering interest in art?
Roger Thornhill: Yes, the art of survival.
Eve Kendall: He followed me here from the hotel.
Leonard: He was in your room?
Roger Thornhill: Sure. Isn't everybody?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The Leo the Lion/MGM trademark preceding the credits is on a green field, to match the green field used in the credits proper. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Silentium (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Singin' in the Rain
(1929)
(uncredited)
Music by Nacio Herb Brown
Lyrics Arthur Freed
Whistled by Cary Grant in Eva's apartment
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
From The Master of Suspense Came the Daddy of the Modern Adventure Thrillers
7 February 2004 | by (Whitehall, PA) – See all my reviews

Many feel this is Alfred Hitchcock's greatest American movie, and I agree! NORTH BY NORTHWEST is the Hitchcock film to end all Hitch films, with all his pet themes covered with maximum wit, panache, and suspense, as well as a romance between Cary Grant and a soignée Eva Marie Saint that's as tender as it is sexy. Grant has never been more engaging and dashing (literally and figuratively :-), though the smoothly villainous James Mason nearly out-suaves him. My husband and I have joked that if Mason had played Thornhill, the film would have been over in mere moments. With all due respect to Grant, if the imperious, unshakably confident Mason asked the Glen Cove police, "Do you honestly believe that this happened the way you think it did?" they would immediately reply, "No, sir, you must be right, you're free to go, sorry we bothered you." :-) Also boasts a great early performance by a reptilian young Martin Landau as Mason's possessive henchman, as well as one of Oscar nominee Ernest Lehman's best screenplays (in fact, he borrowed liberally from it for his script for the film version of THE PRIZE starring Paul Newman) and one of Bernard Herrmann's finest scores. Anybody who wants to write or direct a chase thriller should watch NORTH BY NORTHWEST first to see how it's done!


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