A New York City advertising executive goes on the run after being mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies.

Director:

Alfred Hitchcock

Writer:

Ernest Lehman
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1,896 ( 141)
Top Rated Movies #99 | Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 8 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Cary Grant ... Roger Thornhill
Eva Marie Saint ... Eve Kendall
James Mason ... Phillip Vandamm
Jessie Royce Landis ... Clara Thornhill
Leo G. Carroll ... The Professor
Josephine Hutchinson ... Mrs. Townsend
Philip Ober ... Lester Townsend
Martin Landau ... Leonard
Adam Williams ... Valerian
Edward Platt ... Victor Larrabee
Robert Ellenstein ... Licht
Les Tremayne ... Auctioneer
Philip Coolidge ... Dr. Cross
Patrick McVey Patrick McVey ... Sergeant Flamm
Edward Binns ... Captain Junket
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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

Taglines:

The Master of Suspense weaves his greatest tale! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?

Trivia

At Grand Central Station, Cary Grant attempts to buy a train ticket from Ned Glass. Glass in 1961 played "Doc" in West Side Story. The night before, when Thornhill (Grant) was at the real Townsend's house in Glen Cove, he says he has tickets for a show at the Winter Garden Theatre that night. The show playing at that theatre at the time was West Side Story. See more »

Goofs

Thornhill's cuff links in the Oak Room bar differ from all other scenes where he's still in that same suit. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Roger Thornhill: [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...
Eddie: Mr. Thornhill?
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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 »

Alternate Versions

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 »

Connections

Referenced in Audio Interview with Richard Franklin (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

It's a Most Unusual Day
(1948)
(uncredited)
Music by Jimmy McHugh
Lyrics by Harold Adamson
Played as background music at the Plaza Hotel
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User Reviews

Wonderful comedy thriller, not Hitchcock's best but his most sheerly enjoyable
30 September 2004 | by DrLeneraSee all my reviews

North By Northwest is not an artistic masterpiece like Rear Window and Vertigo, but it is probably the most purely entertaining picture Hitchcock ever made. It's essentially a rehash of many of his earlier films, with a plot partially derived from The Thirty Nine Steps and the very similar Saboteur, while there are borrowings from Foreign Correspondent and Notorious, among others. However, it is all done with such style and confidence that it doesn't matter if it's essentially just a greatest hits package.

Very few other films of this kind attain the near perfect tone of this one, precariously balanced between seriousness and silliness. Sometimes this film manages the very difficult trick of being both suspenseful and comical at the same time, as in the auction house scene, or the wonderful scene in the lift when the hero's mother turns to two heavies in a lift looking menacingly at the hero and says "you gentlemen are not REALLY trying to kill my son, are you?".

Of course the famous crop dusting plane scene and the Mount Rushmore chase are terrific. The former is really more notable for the amount of time taken to build up to the action than the action itself, while the technical work on the latter still looks pretty good. In a totally different vein is the astonishingly frank seduction sequence on the train. Hitchcock takes his time here as with many of the other scenes, but the film is so crammed with memorable passages that one hardly notices it's 136 mins long.

Ernest Lehman's script is full of wonderful lines, many of them delivered so well by chief villain James Mason that at times we almost want to root for him. "Has any one ever told you tend to overplay your various roles Mr Kaplan....it seems to me you fellows could stand a little less training from the FBI and a little more from the Actor's Studio". Cary Grant is so smooth one almost forgets he's over 50, and of course there's also Bernard Herrmann's vibrant score.

Endlessly enjoyable even with repeated viewings. How many of today's thrillers will be such fun in 25 years time?


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

18 December 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,101,000 (estimated)

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$75,175
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)| Dolby SR | Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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