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North by Northwest
Drama, Thriller, Action, Adventure, Mystery, Romance
IMDB rating:
Alfred Hitchcock
Cary Grant as Roger O. Thornhill
Eva Marie Saint as Eve Kendall
James Mason as Phillip Vandamm
Jessie Royce Landis as Clara Thornhill
Leo G. Carroll as The Professor
Josephine Hutchinson as Mrs. Townsend
Philip Ober as Lester Townsend
Martin Landau as Leonard
Adam Williams as Valerian
Edward Platt as Victor Larrabee
Les Tremayne as Auctioneer
Philip Coolidge as Dr. Cross
Patrick McVey as Sergeant Flamm - Chicago Policeman
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.
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Great film that has aged well in spite of a few minor flaws.
Great roller coaster ride of a movie with a few minor flaws. First, I can't imagine a more inept criminal justice system than in Glen Cove: (a) cops crashing their car into a fleeing drunk driver (b) detectives that easily could have exposed the phony Mrs. Townsend (hard to believe they did not already know that the real one was deceased) with a few basic checks, such as the supposed arrival of Thornhill by taxi, his companions at the Oak Bar, the time and circumstances of the theft of the Mercedes, the party guest list, etc. (c) a lawyer letting his client without objection to go to trial on felony charges only one day after the preliminary hearing, and (d) a judge permitting such a quick trial, then letting Thornhill out on bail if his story was supposedly so phony. Second, the scene involving the "United States Intelligence Agency" (staying so secret by being conveniently plopped right in the middle of the National Mall with the Capitol background shot) could have been deleted, leaving the mystery of Kaplan's identity for later resolution; the plot would have been enhanced that much more. Third, the scene in the Chicago train station with the cops checking all the red caps was a bit of a stretch; my recollection of 1950's America was that most of them were of a different ethnicity than that shown in the film.

But in spite of these and the many other minor flaws and goofs that have been well documented, this is still a great film with superb acting, direction, photography, overall plot and suspense that has aged well, like fine wine. I especially liked the little non-verbal nuances, such as: (a) the expression exchange between Thornhill and the other man shaving in the train station, (b) the looks of skepticism by the New York state cop to Eve Kendall, (c) the flabbergasted look by the Chicago cop when Thornhill is suddenly whisked away by the professor at the airport, and (d) Thornhill looking at the farmer (thinking he is Kaplan) across the road, waiting for him to make the first move. The little snippets of humor in the middle of normally suspenseful or dramatic scenes further added to the enjoyment of viewing the film. How many other cops would admonish a murder suspect with "you ought to be ashamed of yourself?" Well worth the rental and viewing time for a good entertainment escape.
Up And Upwest
Alfred Hitchcock dished something up more then fifty years ago that would change the way cinema looked today. North By Northwest was that film, and whilst at the time I can only imagine it was fantastical, it still holds up today, trumping most films that come out in the twenty first century. It's fast paced action, it's mystery and twists and turns and all the charm from its actors are what carry this film into cinematic history.

North By Northwest is one of the greatest films ever made, both for its historic placement and it's utterly great story. It proves to be something more then a film, it's more of an adventure for the audience; we travel with Roger through this fantastic thriller, becoming apart of his venture. Possibly the greatest action adventure film ever made.
A Cinema Buff's Delight
Cary Grant, kidnapped in the opening frames of the film due to a case of mistaken identity, is actually a red-herring in a cold war spying game.The game goes awfully wrong, and to set the matters right in comes the sultry blonde Eva Marie-Saint,an avatar of Mata Hari.After some cat and mouse games in a train , a crop-duster tries to mow down Grant in a widely acclaimed and much written about sequence. But to my mind the auction sequence,in which our hero makes a perfect ass of himself inorder to get arrested and shake off his pursuers, takes the cake.It is top class hilarious stuff. This counterpoint between suspense and comedy is in fact the tenor of the film. The tempo of suspense is heightened and maintained with the help of appropriate music and through shadows and sinister camera angles. The finale on Mount Rushmore is both literally and figuratively a cliff-hanger. Grant is poker faced and takes his series of misadventures stoically - a la 007. Eva Marie, though icily menacing on the outside , shows a vulnerability deep down which is alluring. As Grant aptly describes her "she is a big girl, and in all the right places too ". The film is replete with such enjoyable one-liners. Cinema buffs would also love the editing wizardry - look out for the cut from Mount Rushmore to the upper berth in the train at the very end of the film. While not definitely the greatest of Alfred Hitchcock's oeuvre , is is nevertheless a cinema buff's delight. Rating - 8/10
This thought has crossed our minds
What if it were us against the world? What if one day we were to find that we were rogues on the run from people who are telling us that we are rogues on the run? I've imagined this scenario many times and Hitchcock nows how to tell it better than any.

This is one of the first great thrillers, so many twists, so many turns that the viewer could miss the clues to vital information very easily so assure that you pay attention to both the primary things and the secondary things.

There is really not much more to say about this film without revealing too much apart from Cary Grant giving another great performance as the guy on the run.

There is some great, cheesy and surprisingly witty pieces of dialog in here and by the films conclusion everything is pieced together neatly.

North By Northwest= 8.5/10
Sexy Hitchcock thriller (spoilers throughout)
There are no two ways about it, North by Northwest is a sexy film. Just take the exchanges on the train or the film's final image or even the homoerotic banter between James Mason and Martin Landau. The whole film reeks of sex.

It's quite fun watching the film back and noticing all the subtle, and not too subtle, allusions to horizontal activity. The most explicit is the conversation between Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. The flirty banter is superb, as is the scene that follows it. For all intents and purposes it's a sex scene, but because Hitchcock wasn't able to get away with that at that time he had to be creative, and as a result the scene is perhaps even sexier. But perhaps flying slightly under the radar is the relationship between James Mason and Martin Landau. Sure, years later, plenty of film academics have pointed out the homoeroticism that is present, but it's fun to ponder whether the original audiences picked up on it. I mean, just listen to some of the dialogue: 'call it my woman's intuition if you will.' 'Why Leonard, I do believe you're jealous! I'm actually very flattered!' And then there's the fight they have. It's like a sex scene. There are two close ups, the money shot and then one slumps down into an armchair and the other stands there, grimacing in pain and relief. But if you want to analyse it in even more depth, there's the fact that the argument starts with a gun. Only its Eve's gun and it fires blanks. The emptiness of heterosexuality, perhaps? Probably not, but like I said, it's fun to theorise. Oh, and while I'm on this train of thought, James Mason says 'Gay surroundings' with a distinct emphasis. I wonder if he's trying to tell us something?

There's also a Freudian kink to the relationship between Thornhill and his mother. She looks the same age as him and they act like a married couple. In fact, at the start of the film, is seems as if Roger can't do anything without her. She's the one he phones when he gets arrested and she's the one that he takes on his early adventures. She's only ditched when he comes across a better prospect - Eve Kendall.

But that reminds me of one of my favourite scenes. I love Cary Grant's drunk performance in the police station. It's bloody hilarious. I love the drunken conversation with his mother ('No, they didn't give me a chaser') and the drunken conversation with the doctor ('How much did you drink?' 'This much,' Grant replies with his arms stretched wide apart). Grant's comic acting is impeccable.

Another favourite comic scene is the auction scene. Again Grant's acting is magnificent. The way that he antagonises the auctioneer is superb and the fight is hilarious. And I also love the scene where Thornhill returns to the house. No one can do dignified bemusement quite like Cary Grant.

Less convincing, however, in my opinion, is James Mason. He's certainly got the urbane charm that the character of Vandamm demands but I just don't find him threatening enough. In many ways he's quite a forgettable Hitchcock villain. The only thing that makes him memorable to me is his relationship with Martin Landau.

I also find the final action scene a bit disappointing. I don't think that it quite has enough energy. Plus Mason seems nonplussed at having been caught. Yes that's his character – always cool and in control – but it does deny the audience the satisfaction of his capture. However, the film redeems itself with its final image. I can imagine Hitchcock chuckling to himself having got away with it.

But while I'm coming up with criticisms, I also have to say that the film is a little light. Certainly it's a very amusing film with some terrific dialogue, but it doesn't live as long in the memory as, say, Vertigo, Psycho, Rear Window or even The Birds. And the story, when you sit down and think about it, is completely forgettable. You remember the great scenes and the great moments, but only lip service is paid to the Cold War and the business about the microfilm. It's entirely superfluous.

However, it's easy to ignore the more forgettable elements when there is so much worth remembering. Just take the crop dusting scene, the UN murder, every moment on the train, the terrific musical score and the fantastic dialogue. It's not quite a feast but it's a damn good snack.
All things point to this being one of Hitch's very best - 91%
For only my second Hitchcock picture (I know, bit behind the times!), I decided to go for one of his more iconic pictures. Movies like this have dual appeal to me - full of classic moments and yet, they maintain a mystery to me as the basic bones of the film are usually forgotten. "Rope" was a genuine surprise despite feeling a little stagey but this tense, taut thriller remains an utterly compelling picture even today. It might not be Hitch's best picture but to ignore "North By Northwest" would be a very grave mistake.

Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, an advertising executive in New York who suddenly finds himself thrust into a terrifying world that he literally knows nothing about. Mistaken by a couple of thugs for someone called George Kaplan, he is bundled into a car and driven to the home of urbane villain Phillip Vandamm (James Mason) who ignores Thornhill's pleas for clemency. Once Thornhill escapes barely with his life, he finds himself pursued by law-enforcement across the US after he is mistaken for an assassin who strikes at the UN Building. His only chance is to track down the real George Kaplan (if he even exists) and on-board a train, he encounters bewitching blonde Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) but can anyone really be trusted?

Even without such legendary moments like Grant being chased by a crop-duster or scrambling over the faces of Mt Rushmore, "North By Northwest" feels ahead of its time. In many ways, it feels like an early James Bond flick - full of stunning locations, an epic plot and most of all, a charismatic and witty lead in Grant whose performance as the out-of-his-depth hero is not just believable but actually provides the movie with a recognisable core. Alongside Grant, Saint is a classy femme fatale with looks to kill and lines for any vamp to savour. Mason, able to play baddies in his sleep, is in his element as the mastermind one step ahead at all times. And running throughout, naturally, is that tension that Hitch is rightly famous for - the combination of dramatic music, lengthy sequences when nothing is said and frankly stunning shots. Take the crop-duster scene as an example. Next to no dialogue or music, the creeping fear the film summons as we see the plane steer around for another pass and the terror as you realise that there is almost nothing Thornhill could do.

There are any number of so-called 'thrillers' that have been released since that simply don't fulfil their promise. "North By Northwest" is an exception. In the same way that "Heat" is the template for all cop dramas and "The Godfather" is the Don for mob movies, this should be considered the basis for any decent spy flick. The only thing I didn't like was the ending which came out of nothing due to probably the most out-of-place and unwelcome cut I've ever seen in a movie, flicking from a moment of high drama and danger to a post-story conclusion in the blink of an eye. It nearly soured my opinion of the film as a whole but I'm not gonna let one mistake put me off. "North By Northwest" is an absorbing, classy movie that isn't held in the same regard as films like "Vertigo" or "Psycho". In the same way that "Rope" surprised me, the quality of "North By Northwest" really took my breath away and I would argue that this is still a wonderful movie if released today. I'm thinking I need to watch more Hitchcock film from here on...
an original and influential classic from Master of suspense.
Hopefully Alfred Hitchcock needs to introduction. he is one of the most influential directors of the last 100 years and has made some of the most original and daring films such as 'Psycho' and 'The Birds'. North by Northwest is a cross country caper and a well made one at that. Unlike the horror genre which he explored, this is an action film that stars Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint as the leading roles. its about a ordinary man who is confused as a government agent and is on the run cross country to prove his innocence.

First let me say Alfred Hitchcock has a knack for casting strong male actors and beautiful female actresses. they both have brilliant performances and Grant as the charming Roger Thornhill no doubt makes you fall in love with him and his cheeky character instantly.

The story is a joy to watch as it always is with Hitchcock. His style of making every scene suspenseful and intense makes this film an absolute rush from the first 5 minutes to the final scene. he manages to keep you entertained throughout the film with not a dull moment. this film has been a huge influence on other films such as 'From Russia with Love' with the famous plane scene.

A lot of modern film makers continue to look at and be influenced by Hitchcocks work. His legendary camera shots are used in hundreds of films such as the final scene in this where he pulls the girl up from the mountain and it cuts to him pulling her onto his bed. a risky shot but works ever so well and can be seen in modern films. if you are yet to see a Hitchcock film, this is a great starting point, if you have seen his work, this is another classic from him and quite possibly his most memorable. 9/10
I finally get how great it is: Hitch infuses his wrong-man caper with ironic movie language and reality-be-damned escapism and suspense.
Its Hitch's most briskly entertaining movie, and one of his most comic, adventure-caper type movies, largely thanks to the persona of Cary Grant. But its also one of his most suspenseful - in the fact that Grant is being recognised as someone else, and that he may be put in jail for someone else's crime.

I've finally come to realise just how great North by Northwest is. The reason you should love Hitchcock is he put entertainment upfront. Hitchcock was not interested in whether this or that would happen in real life: he was interested in what would make the most entertaining scene for the movie. North by Northwest is a peak in this regard. The dialogue and situations intentionally throw reality to the wind - the double-entendre dialogue in the love scenes is not supposed to be the way people talk!

If you said to Hitchcock "as if he'd keep driving" or "as if she'd do that" - he would just laugh at you and say you've missed the point. This is 100% movieland, and once you get used to the fact, and that this is not a fault in the film, but done intentionally, you'll love it. Its expressionistic - everything happens in movie language: the people laughing at Grant in the elevator, the way he keeps driving drunk near the beginning, the way he grabs the knife and everyone stares at him after someone's been stabbed.

It flirts with the idea of identity. I thought it was interesting how Grant first is dismissing, then incredulous that people should be calling him by another name; then, as the tries to find out who this guy is, he enters the hotel room of this new identity, then he puts the suit on, and finally he identifies himself as George Kaplan.

A succession of fantastic, memorable scenes, a great leading man in Grant, and one of Hermann's essential Hitch scores make for a movie i can put on at any time.

"The Man Who Sneezed in Lincoln's Nose"
Alfred Hitchcock knew a recipe for a perfect thriller because he had made many but among his films, "North by Northwest" (1959) stands out as a great combination of suspense, sex, and humor. The film is based on a case of mistaken identity that in a course of a few days makes a likable (even if slightly arrogant) Manhattan ad-man Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) the object of a cross country spy hunt. Having no clue what is happening to him, Thornhill will be kidnapped by the spies, brought to an unknown mansion and after the questioning forced to get drunk. He will get arrested for a stealing a car and drunk driving of which he has no recollection. It is just the beginning. Next, he finds himself in the UN building talking to a man who drops dead in the middle of the conversation in front of hundreds of people. The worst part – the man is murdered and Thornhill has the murder weapon, the knife in his hand. Both, the police and the spies are on his trail and his only hope is to escape NYC by train where a very sexy blonde named Eve (Eva Marie Saint) is ready to help him. Their encounter leads to one of the sexiest scenes ever filmed without any sexual act involved.

The film is packed with the witty and funny dialogs and one- liners as well as with artful and imaginative set pieces including Grant running for his life across the prairie from an evil crop-duster and the climatic chase on Mount Rushmore. Hitchcock who always wanted to make a film with two scenes – a chase on the face of a president and the attempt to wake up the Peru Ambassador during the assembly in UN who turned to be dead, had his dreams fulfilled with "North by Northwest" which he suggested should be called "The Man Who Sneezed in Lincoln's Nose". Among many of film's pleasures are Eva Marie Saint as sexy stranger on a train and James Mason and young Martin Landau as a duet of villains with a complicated relationship.
North By Northwest
If you are a Hitchcock fan, as I am, then this may be the best Hitchcock of all. "North By Northwest" has a little bit of everything: suspense, love, mystery, thriller intrigue, danger, and justice. Eva Marie Saint (Eve Kendall) has never been more beautiful, or more endearing as she is in this movie.

Years ago I didn't really care for Cary Grant, but he has a way of growing on you, movie by movie, and he is never better that he is in this role as Roger O. Thornhill. I loved James Mason and a young Martin Landau in this movie as well. Well worth the 2 hours and 16 minutes of your time.
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