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
MGM hired Ernest Lehman to write the movie version of a novel called The Wreck of the Mary Deare, with Sir Alfred Hitchcock assigned to direct. But Lehman got stuck on the adaptation and told Hitchcock he needed to find a new writer. Hitchcock, who liked working with Lehman, said, "I have this other idea." He'd been working on a story where a man is mistaken for a spy (who turns out not to exist), and about doing a chase sequence across Mount Rushmore. Hitchcock and Lehman developed the movie from there, but neglected to tell MGM that they'd changed courses. When the studio bosses found out, they wisely let Hitchcock and Lehman do their own thing and reassigned The Wreck of the Mary Deare. See more »
The newspaper showing the photo of Thornhill at the UN, knife in hand, is dated Tuesday, November 25, 1958. The next day, on which the crop duster sequence occurs, would be Wednesday, November 26. The corn would not be so tall at the end of November, and the weather would not be as sweltering as it is portrayed. The following day in South Dakota would be Thursday, November 27. Average temperatures at Mt. Rushmore at that time of year would not permit short-sleeved dresses and other summer garb. Thursday the 27th would also be Thanksgiving Day, and families would likely be dining at home, on turkey, rather than in a tourist cafeteria. Finally, the branches of the shrubbery on the mountain (on which Eve Kendall's shawl gets stuck) would not be covered in foliage. See more »
[coming out of the crowded elevator, dictating to his secretary]
If you accept the belief that a high Trendex automatically means a rising sales curve...
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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 »
The print originally had an acknowledgement for the cooperation of the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service. But they requested it be removed after MGM violated the agreement that no violence would take place near the Mt. Rushmore monument. Some prints, however, were released with the acknowledgement still in. See more »
I can't quite understand how anyone can dislike Alfred Hitchcock's films. Personally, he's one of the few old school talents I find interesting and watchable, even if his work is dated and set in its era (the era when most sets were hopelessly phony). I guess you have to appreciate his themes - dysfunctional relationships between a man and his mother, flawed by essentially innocent men caught up in a web of intrigue, beautiful blonds, comments of authority figures, black humor, etc - to really appreciate Hitchcock.
Interestingly, James Stewart was Hitchcock's original choice for the role of Roger Thornhill, the hapless ad man who is mistaken for a spy who doesn't even exist to begin with and is chased half way across the country by villains and authorities for a murder he didn't commit. For one reason or another, Stewart was unavailable and the part went to Cary Grant instead. Grant seems better suited to the character and the situation than Stewart would have been, but I can easily picture Stewart being chased in the cornfield by the crop duster.
Like all Hitchcock films, there are hundreds of things that aren't realistic though set in the real world and lots of highly improbable stuff going on everywhere, but if you give it a chance you'll enjoy it and won't care. Don't miss Eva Marie Saint having to dub over a then lewd line about love, a full stomach and sex. The use of a crop duster may not be the most practical way to kill a man, but it's a great visual representation of the great Hitchcockian examination of "nowhere to run, nowhere to hide". The music and clinging to Mount Rushmore is also memorable. Did I mention the innuendo?
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