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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1,635 ( 405)
Top Rated Movies #105 | 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

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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

In a Turner Classic Movies interview, according to screenwriter Ernest Lehman (who worked in close collaboration with Sir Alfred Hitchcock), the working title was "In A Northwesterly Direction". The head of the story department at MGM said "Why don't you call it 'North by Northwest'?" Lehman says that he and Hitchcock adopted that as the new working title, always assuming that they'd come up with something better. Hitchcock also jokingly wanted to call it "The Man in Lincoln's Nose", but claimed the idea was vetoed by the Park Commissioner. Other working titles included "Breathless", "In a North West Direction", and "The C.I.A. Story". So the creators thought the title was a meaningless placeholder. However, in fact Thornhill flew north from Chicago to South Dakota on Northwest Airlines, or "north by Northwest." See more »

Goofs

When Thornhill is photographed at the United Nations with the knife in his left hand, Thornhill holds a picture of Vandamm in his right hand. Later, this incriminating photo of Thornhill is seen in the possession of the the ticket seller, with Thornhill holding the knife in his left hand but with his right hand empty. 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

Right after his credit as director during the opening credits, Alfred Hitchcock is running toward the door of the city bus just as it slams shut on him! 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 »


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

 
"That wasn't very sporting, using real bullets."
12 January 2009 | by Nazi_Fighter_DavidSee all my reviews

Cary Grant handles the twisted expressions of his face, his astonished look, his impulsive smile with professional self-assurance and charm while taking us right in the middle of confusion on a breathless 2000-mile cross-country chase which has its gripping showdown across the giant faces of the presidents sculptured on Mount Rushmore high above Rapid City, South Dakota…

Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a stylish publicist, mistaken for a fictitious Federal agent, plunged into a world of crime and intrigue, hunted down by villains who want to eliminate him because he seems to be on their dishonest dealings…

When questioned by bland Phillip Vandamm (James Mason), Thornhill is unable to convince him that he is a victim of a mistaken identity… His three thugs fill him with bourbon, and place him in a stolen car expecting him to have a drunken accident… After narrowly escaping death, no one believes his story including, obviously, his skeptical mother (Jessie Royce Landis).

In an effort to discover the agent he is being confused with, and using the clues he collected, Thornhill returns to the United Nations Headquarter looking for George Kaplan… There, somebody falls into his arms and unthinkingly, Thornhill draws the blade out of the victim's back and is photographed holding the weapon in mid-air… And thus became a fugitive from justice, pursued by the cops and had to skip by boarding a train to Chicago…

While on the run, he is caught by a provocative platinum blonde (Eva Marie Saint), who comes out as a glamorous woman and a delightful charmer…

James Mason, a polished mastermind spy showed too well to be threatening... His menacing henchman, Martin Landau is also convincingly hurtful...

In his fifth Hitchcock picture, Leo G. Carroll is suave and calm as the devoted intelligence chief…

Directed by a genius behind the camera, "North By Northwest" remains a genuinely exciting film for the dangerous world of spies and counterspies


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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:

$73,695
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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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