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North by Northwest
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Reviews & Ratings for
North by Northwest More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The Adventures Of Mr. Thornhill

Author: Lechuguilla from Dallas, Texas
2 November 2012

My opinion of this film is mixed. At times the dialogue is clever and amusing. And the final fifteen minutes offer some genuine suspense, together with excellent visual perspective. During this final sequence, the physically risky maneuvers of the main characters, ordinary and vulnerable, contrast thematically with the stone-cold lifelessness of past characters, grand and immortal.

But oh my, the trial of having to sit through two hours getting to that last sequence. Highly contrived, the adventure plot is overblown with sequences that defy logic and scatter the location settings in a near-random manner. As such, the plot seems chaotic, disorganized, and unedited. Major sections could have been excised, or reduced in length. I think the film runs about thirty minutes too long.

Color cinematography is acceptable for the 1950s. Today, the cinematography looks antiquated and clunky, with day-for-night camera filters in outdoor scenes, and lots of rear-screen projections.

As advertising man Roger Thornhill, Cary Grant is clearly miscast, looking way too old for the role. I have no problem with the rest of the casting. And James Mason is always a delight to watch and listen to.

There are some memorable visuals in this film, like the crop-dusting sequence. But overall, "North By Northwest" offers a poor script, until near the end. Hitchcock made some really terrific films in his day. But this is not one of them.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Great but FLAWED (some mild spoilers)

10/10
Author: Josh Leman (nuematsu8@aol.com) from Boulder, CO, USA
5 March 2001

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I won't bother with any of that nonsense about how this is one of the greatest movies ever made. Everybody knows that, and if anyone tries to tell you otherwise, let me know so I can stamp the word IDIOT on their forehead. But the movie has a terrible, terrible flaw that needs to be addressed.

Simply put, Hitchcock should have cut that early scene where the intelligence agency members discuss what they are going to do now that Thornhill has been mistaken for Kaplan. It's an awful scene. For one thing, the scene is incredibly poorly written in comparison with the rest of the film--the characters say everything over and over again, in the simplest terms possible, as though they think we're all too stupid to figure anything out. More importantly, though, the scene completely ruins the mystery of George Kaplan way too early in the film.

Imagine if that scene were removed. Then we'd be closer to Thornhill's plight throughout the entire movie--when he sees that guy at the cornfield, we'd think that was Kaplan, just like Thornhill does. And then when the professor guy shows up at the airport, we'd all be like, "Okay, now that HAS to be Kaplan." And we'd learn the truth about Kaplan right along with Thornhill. But that dumb scene at the beginning spoils the mystery, and unfortunately that keeps us from relating with Thornhill as much as we otherwise might have.

Don't let any of this stop you from seeing the movie. It's wonderful. But while you watch it, think about what it might have been.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Quite entertaining although not that solidly built

6/10
Author: Johan Dondokambey from Indonesia
30 June 2014

The story's basic premise is quite nice, especially for the era of the 1960s. It has since seen many other movie productions using the similar basic premise of ordinary people being mistaken as spies. The screenplay development isn't really that good, though, considering there's too much talk compared to significant spies work or fugitive hunting or avoiding capture, which what the movie is perceived to be offering. The technical things rather annoy me, like there is a strange and imbalanced lighting all over the movie, and the user of too much backdrop for background video. Yes those are maybe tolerable for those era, but for the later times like such as now, they seem quite stupid. The acting is quite nice, the actors try their best not too overact the scenes, yet they still do in a greater part of the movie.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Perhaps Great for its Time - But Acting Not Convincing

6/10
Author: tim_s_wiley from United States
30 March 2013

Well i always try to check movies off my "Must See Before Dying" list and so i turned this one on. The movie has a great premise and story... my only problem was Cary Grant.

I thought he was great on the train scenes with the girl... but as far as the drunk scene, and a normal person who's life is in jeopardy multiple times he just didn't seem real to me... like he didn't take any of it seriously. Just not convincing for a good part of the movie.

I think this movie would have been great even now had there been someone more convincing in that role someone who was really concerned with living/dying rather than a regular citizen trying to portray a 007 veteran coolness.

Again the part on the train (witty exchanges with the woman) were great and you could really pick up on the innuendo of the times.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Don't Miss the Bus

8/10
Author: Ryan J. Gilmer (ryanjgilmer007@aol.com) from Plymouth, MN, USA
18 May 2000

North By Northwest is classic Hitchcock and is a moive not to be missed.

There are only a few minor mishaps--> I rank the movie a little lower than perhaps it deserves because the video version has some faded colors. This may be fixed if re-released in a remastered version. However, it may also be due to film deterioration (as color movies shot on one real of Kodak) rather than 3, fade over time).

The other minor goofs are caused my the time period of the 1959 and the recent jumps is special effects technology. The actors over blue screens are very obvious in parts.

This mistakes cause this not to be a perfect movie, but it is still a classic. There is great acting and a great story. You should be engaged and intrigued, and always surprised and what will occur next. It is also very non-predictable as nobody is safe at anytime, so basically anything can occur in the story.

At the same time, the story flows easilly and logically from place to place. (unlike Hitchcock's earlier "Secret Agent" were locations are not fully explained, North by Northwest fully utilizes the locations and uses them to add to the story).

Other little idosyncronsies further add to the story as art, airlines, the UN, Mt. Rushmore (plus the fact that 100 pines were planted on an MGM sound-lot to make it look like the surrounding "Rushmore" woods), and a reference to Shakespeare (the title) all add to the story.

Originally known as "The Man in Lincoln's Nose", North By Northwest will not disappoint.

However, don't miss the bus as Hitchcock makes his appearance before the appearance of Grant, whom the role was written for and whom shows valid reasons for why the James Bond producers wanting him for the James Bond role. (he did not get that role because he would only do 2 or 3 bond movies)

Rating: 8

Viewed: on tape

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A towering achievement.

10/10
Author: ags123 from Atlanta, Georgia
23 April 2008

This is Hitchcock's best film – quite an accomplishment, considering how many great films he created. And after half a century, "North By Northwest" holds up beautifully. This film has it all: suspense, glamour, humor, and images that capture the imagination and remain etched in memory. The legendary crop-dusting sequence alone is a master class in the art of pure cinema. Like the rest of the film, it's brilliantly conceived and brilliantly executed. All the elements come together to produce the finest form of entertainment. Bernard Herrmann's frantic fandango captures the complexity and pace of the action. Ernest Lehman's script is full of sophisticated dialogue. Performances are spot on. Has Cary Grant ever been more engaging? Is James Mason the ultimate in charming villains? And Eva Marie Saint's allure is multi-faceted. Movies just don't get better than this.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Quite possible Alfred Hitchcock's finest masterpiece

9/10
Author: scarlettmines from Australia
27 July 2005

Masterpiece. Excellent. Brilliant. Film-making at its finest.

None of these statements do 'North by Northwest' justice. It truly is indescribable. If anyone has ever doubted Alfred Hitchcock's ability then this is the film that should surely overshadow any of those opinions.

Cary Grant plays the average man. But when he is mistaken for a spy his life spirals into an adventure that leads him to Mount Rushmore, crop fields and a beautiful woman (played ever so greatly by Eva Marie Saint).

The story is captivating, exciting and is everything a great film should be. It has scenes and lines that have become classics in the world of film and the combination of Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock is unmissable.

Ernest Lehmann has done an excellent job in writing the screenplay and this is by far one of his greatest achievements.

Overall, this film is a must see for everyone. Even if thrillers are not your favourite, it still provides great entertainment for all. It is by no means overrated and it hasn't been surpassed by any films since it's release.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Grant + Hitchcock = Fun

9/10
Author: aqua_swing from Canada
26 March 2005

Cary Grant never ceases to amaze me. Though I haven't seen a whole list of his movies (Only two: This and Charade), his wit and cool demeanor makes me realize that if I was a movie go-er in his time I'd pick him as the person I'd want to be like when I grew up. The movie's only downfall was that it seemed kind of on the long side, and once or twice I caught myself closing my eyes about 15 minutes from the end, but Grant's ability to keep me interested in this movie surpasses the idea that this was even a Hitchcock film. By the middle I'd completely forgotten, because the style seemed so different from all of Hitchcock's previous films I've seen (Psycho, Rope, Vertigo, et-al), and I was happy with the end result. A must see for fans of Bond movies, because this is the completely implausible way of telling the same kind of story.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Hitchcock once again

7/10
Author: esteban1747 from Spain
26 March 2005

Cary Grant was certainly an excellent actor, he was able to lead some thrillers without loosing his acting humor, and "North by Northwest" is an example. Interesting that the film starts with the presence of the director Hitchcock in its first scene. Then Cary Grant became for unknown reasons a man (spy) called Kaplan, he was kidnapped at the restaurant and brought to a big house where the punishment was to get him drunk with whiskey and then left driving a car in the evening. I have no intention to give the whole story of the plot, but you may guess that after these first scenes the rest was very much complicated and if you leave the screen you risk to loose the coherence of the film and not to understand all tricky reasons given by Hitchcock. Grant had a good partner in then beautiful Eva Marie Saint, and to a lesser extent from experienced James Mason. If you wish to see an interesting film, I advise you to see this one, another Hitchcock's jewel.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Quick Reviews!

10/10
Author: malkane316 from NI
12 November 2004

Another Hitchcock classic, and further proof of his versatility, while keeping to his usual themes of deception, trust, and hidden personalities. This film has action, twists, humour, suspense, as well as great acting, and puts many recent movies which claim to 'have it all' to shame. Again, i cannot add anything which hasn't already been said, as this is a well loved classic. the set pieces that everyone knows are easily the best Hollywood produced before Bond, as are the double-entendres, and some of the dialouge is so sharp you have to rewind it to hear it again, write it down and wait for an opportunity to use it...

Another film that it is difficult to find real fault with. 10 out of 10

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