As Carl Black gets the opportunity to move his family out of Chicago in hope of a better life, their arrival in Beverly Hills is timed with that city's annual purge, where all crime is legal for twelve hours.
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
While filming Vertigo (1958), Alfred Hitchcock described some of the plot of this project to frequent Hitchcock leading man and "Vertigo" star James Stewart, who naturally assumed that Hitchcock meant to cast him in the Roger Thornhill role, and was eager to play it. Actually, Hitchcock wanted Cary Grant to play the role. By the time Hitchcock realized the misunderstanding, Stewart was so anxious to play Thornhill that rejecting him would have caused a great deal of disappointment. So Hitchcock delayed production on this film until Stewart was already safely committed to filming Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder (1959) before "officially" offering him the North by Northwest (1959) role. Stewart had no choice; he had to turn down the offer, allowing Hitchcock to cast Grant, the actor he had wanted all along. See more »
When Thornhill is looking through the telescope at Mount Rushmore, during the first and last shorts, the Professor is sitting on the far side of the bench, but on the close-ups, he is sitting very close to Thornhill. See more »
Who are you?
Mere errand boys carrying concealed weapons. His is pointed at your heart, so, please, no errors of judgment, I beg of you.
What is this? A joke or something?
Yes, a joke. We'll laugh in the car.
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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 »
Hitchcock at his sharpest. Art and commerce in a delicious salad with all the right ingredients. A brisk screenplay by Ernest Lehman a Cary Grant that is just pure delight, Eva Marie Saint fresh out of her Oscar from "On the Waterfront" is an icy blonde with a brain. James Mason, the ultimate foreign sinister not to mention Jessie Royce Landis and Hitchcock brings Bernard Herrmann to wrap it all up in one of the most infectious scores imaginable. A real treat.
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