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Just as Hitchcock used the elements of suspense and timing in Psycho, they are at work here again in North by Northwest. Grant, the lead character, is in the middle of some giant spy thriller adventure, running all over the country ( scope the different venues - the UN building, an auction house, farm fields, trains, and the thrilling climax at an American landmark...) In Psycho, what the audience thinks is the lead character is killed off early in the movie... here in N by NW, it's a different kind of timing experiment - the hero of the movie (and the viewer!) are kept in the dark, caught up in the intrigue until three quarters of the way through the movie. When Cary Grant (and the viewer) are filled in on what is really going on, it's an easy transition to complete the rest of the movie, and the plot sort of changes over to a "will the good guys beat the bad guys ?" plot, and the viewer has to be able to buy into some of the things that happen... I think this is another of Hitchcock's experiments in timing. As usual, there are the usual inside jokes planted here & there through-out. The love/hate relationship between Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant makes for an interesting love story, and what a spectacular ending!
This is a very entertaining Alfred Hitchcock film, it has all the twists and turns you would expect from the director and is great escapist fun. Cary Grant is pretty good in the lead role but personally I would have preferred James Stewart as I think his films with Hitchcock are superb especially Rear Window and my favourite Vertigo. Still thats a minor quibble as this is film is excellent in every other way, James Mason and Martin Landau are especially good as the bad guys and the music is excellent. This film also contains one of the finest scenes in cinematic history as Grant waits by a roadside apparently waiting to meet someone. Also the Bond films seem to have been heavily influenced by this film especially From Russia With Love. I highly recommend you get your hands on the DVD as I picked it up quite cheap and the picture quality and extras are superb ***9/10***
North by Northwest will need no introduction to most movie-goers. It's a
classic, greatly admired by audiences and critics alike. The story about a
befuddled ad-executive fleeing from spies and the police (the spies want him
dead because he knows of their plot, the police want him captured because
they think he's behind a murder) is done at a breakneck pace and deals with
Hitchcock's most frequently used theme: an innocent man on the
Cary Grant is urbane and smooth as the hero. James Mason oozes silky menace as the principal villain (Martin Landau also plays a villain, giving his character a seriously nasty toughness). Eva Marie Saint is simply gorgeous as the woman whose loyalties seems torn between good and bad.
The set pieces are rightly considered to be moments of cinematic genius. Grant's escape from a crop-duster; the fight atop Mount Rushmore; the auction house bluff; the drunken car journey; the murder at the UN building.... each scene is brilliantly devised by script writer Ernest Lehmann and just as brilliantly filmed by director Hitchcock. Everyone should see this movie... it's a masterpiece.
Having seen this movie in excess of 15 times, I am aware of each scene
start to finish. Yet, this piece is not designed to spoil the plot,
to entice those movie fans who have not yet seen this masterpiece.
"North by Northwest" stars Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Leo G. Carroll and Martin Landau (pre-"Mission Impossible").
The basic story is one of an advertising man whose life suddenly takes a drastic turn into espionage and murder. Humor and even romance are deftly woven into this suspenseful tale.
This movie will make you laugh and maybe swoon as you sit on the edge of your seat.
The cast does a terrific job. Cary Grant can do drama and comedy perfectly, and this movie shows him in a peak performance.
Eva Marie Saint is quite sexy and excellent as the "cool blonde" (Hitchcock liked blondes in the lead female role) in this tale.
James Mason and Martin Landau play the antagonists. They are well-dressed and quite sinister
Leo G. Carroll plays a government agent - one can see why he played the spy leader in "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." in the 1960's.
If you have heard of the movie, there are sequences involving a crop-duster and Mount Rushmore. Hitchcock loved to experiment visually, and he succeeds admirably with those aforementioned sequences and the others that tie this film together.
Don't look away too long. This is not a film to be played in the background and interrupted regularly. Also, Hitchcock made a habit of appearing in cameo roles in his films. Originally, it was because the film required more people in certain scenes. Later on, it became a trademark.
In addition, the cinematography is very pleasing in color, the script is abundant with standout dialogue, and that music score - Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann were a perfect match.
I personally never tire of the film. It had taken years for me to see in its full widescreen format, and it was worth the wait.
This may not be Hitch's greatest film, and it's shallow compared with, say,
VERTIGO, REAR WINDOW or PSYCHO, but it is still terrifically
Continuing with a number of the ideas he used in THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS, but with a full-on Hollywood budget, this film was very influential on all the secret agent films of the sixties; from James Bond (many of the James Bond novels had been published when this film was written) via Flint and Modesty Blaise and the Man from UNCLE, right up to today's Austin Powers epics - films so dumb they don't realise they're spoofing a spoof.
The world of the late fifties is conveyed in all its wacky optimism - all those clean, flat pastel surfaces - and hope for the future. You can tell that these people - cold war or no cold war - just know that tody is better than yesterday was, and that tomorrow will be even better.
Lastly; the film restoration and DVD transfer are exemplary - pin-sharp with great colour, free from telecine and digital artefacts and enhanced with excellent extra features. In only all DVDs were so well done...
I really enjoyed North by Northwest, it was refreshing to see a Hollywood action film with so little blood shed. When in the right mood I definitely enjoy some good and gory fun; but these days all the good guy/ bad guy films seem to have the same theme: bigger guns and more blood equal success. Yet here is a film that made me tense when Mr. Townsend and his entourage appeared and had me cheering for Eve Kendall. More film makers ought to follow Hitchcock's style of film making; subtle and calculated art sometimes makes for a more entertaining experience. The guns were small when they took Mr. Thornhill to see Townsend for the first time, and the crop duster scene was rather simple. This film shows that having a big budget and lots of special effects does not make a great movie; using music, camera angles and great actors with 1950's means can create something much more inspired and fun to watch. Sometimes things in life do not have to be made complicated, you do not have to utterly dazzle the public every time.
When you thought that he's all out of ideas and last minute rescues,
Hitchcock comes back with more eye candy and great action. North by
Northwest is sometimes called Hitchcock's last great film. Carey Grant and
Eva Marie Saint have very good chemistry and the inclusion of not one, not
two, not three, but severa plot twists makes this film one of Hitchcock's
One thing not focused on in this film is the use of camera angles. When Roger is taken to make the telegram, the camera slides from a foreground view of Roger's lunch buddies, to the two standing men in a background view. Also, when Roger awaits George Kaplan in the field, there is a great establishing shot of Roger where there is total silence and calm until the eerie plane is spotted. One last camera technique that Hitchcock perfected was when, in the final moments of the Mount Rushmore chase, Roger Thornhill and Eve Kendall were saved by the sniper. The body of the person shot was shown and then a tilt up to the sniper showed the detectives. Little snipets like these were just a few things Hitchcock did well.
Overall, this movie was one of the best I've seen ever. For a 1950s movie, it is ahead of it's time and paved the way for future films to imitate many of the innovations that the flick brought to the screen. Go out and see this movie!
"North By Northwest" is another of Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers where an
ordinary man is put into an extraordinary situation. As in most of these
movies, the hero has to quickly adapt to his situation or
This time it is Cary Grant who is thrust into a world of international intrigue when is mistaken by villain James Mason for an American operative named George Kaplan (the film's "McGuffan" by the way). Along the way he is seduced by Mason's mistress (Eva Marie Saint) while being pursued by Mason and his cronies from New York to Chicago to South Dakota and ultimately to Mount Rushmore for the film's climax.
"North By Northwest" is full of classic Hitchcock moments. First,there is Grant's frustration and fear as he tries to explain to Mason that he is not the person they are seeking. Next, the scene in the cornfield where Grant is isolated and attacked by a plane is pure Hitchcock. Then we have the art auction where he cleverly escapes Mason's henchmen and finally, the finale at Mount Rushmore in a scene reminiscent of a similar one in "Sabotage" (1942) (which took place at the top of the Statue of Liberty).
The cast, as in most Hitchcock films is excellent. Grant is understandably confused and frightened as the the hero, Eva Marie Saint has never been sexier as the femme fatale, James Mason is suave and sinister as the villain and Martin Landau in an early role, is good as Mason's chief henchman. Hitchcock regular Leo G. Carroll is cold heartedly sinister as the "professor". Jesse Royce Landis as Grant's mother (she was about Grant's real age) is wasted and unnecessary to the plot.
The only problem that I have with this and other Hitchcock films is his over reliance on back projection and soundstage "exteriors". Other than that. "North By Northwest" has to be considered as one of Hitchcock's best. Watch for Hitchcock's hilarious cameo appearance at the end of the opening credits.
North by Northwest seems like the defining Hitchcock film, and yet, it
isn't. It's actually quite different from his other films because it
thrills while making us laugh as well. Rarely has Hitchcock blended action
and comedy. His direction is well-paced and nearly perfect, but the true
highlight of the film is Cary Grant, perfectly cast as the innocent,
abducted man accused of being a spy.
Everything that follows is incredibly amusing. The international spies do not consider the fact that they may have abducted the wrong man; they are absolutely sure they got the right one. Thornhill, on the other hand, is absolutely sure they've got the wrong man, so the viewer can see both aspects and laugh at the confusion and frustration they all experience. That's brilliant filmmaking.
I've seen North by Northwest many times, and I've found that it can be viewed many times without losing it's original impact. The French Connection is often noted as the first action movie, but I think North by Northwest deserves that honor. It's a lot more thrilling then The French Connection (most of it, anyways) and most of the mind-numbing, modern day action flicks that constantly rely on explosions and violence.
I just saw the movie too for the 1st time and won't bother to spend time talking about its many memoriable moments or strong points. 10 out of 10. But I do want to talk about what some other IMDB members have mentioned about the possible error Hitchcock made by revelaing a movie "secret" too early in the film (SPOLIERS AHEAD!!!) After watching many Hitchcock films and taking a class at my college last year on classic cinema, I learned of a trm called HITCHCOCKIAN SUSPENSE. It's not suspense like that way you tink of where we're nervous if a character is going to sin the big game or survive a fight. It's where we the viewer know of a secret that one of the cahracters on screen has no idea about. It adds another twist to watching the movie because we know somehting they don't and we want to yell at the screen, "You idiot! Can't you figure it out!" By filling us in on the non-existant Kaplan early on in the film, we still undersatnd Cary Grant's obsession with finding the real Kaplan because we were just in the same boat as him. But now we're forced to see him try against in search that's in vain. You can see stuff like this in "Nototious" and "Strangers on a train" also. Also, I loved the scene where the professor explains the Kaplan truth to Thornhill, so we stil lget to see his expression when he finds out but the roar of the airplane covers it so we're spared hearing the same shpiel twice. Also, I think Hitch may be thinking ahead, knowing that he still has some great "revelations" to make later on in the film like revealing Eve is undercover, when the bad guys figure that out, and the whole Thornhill gets shot scene. Discovering there's no Kaplan at that point of the movie would have been overkill and too much info to handle right then.
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