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North by Northwest
Year:
1959
Country:
USA
Genre:
Drama, Thriller, Action, Adventure, Mystery, Romance
IMDB rating:
8.4
Director:
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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Reviews
My personal favorite of Hitchcock's films!
It's all too simple really. Hitchcock used this plot device before in many of his films; the innocent man caught up in circumstances beyond his control ("The Wrong Man", "The Man Who Knew Too Much"). However, never will you see Hitchcock use this device more cleverly and stylishly as in "North By Northwest."

Cary Grant plays the innocent man like, well, Cary Grant. Add James Mason as the villain (Mason has a great voice... close your eyes sometimes when watching...chilling!), Martin Landau as his henchman, and Eva Marie Saint as the cool blonde equals a great film.

What other Hitchcock film can boast of not one but two famous suspense scenes? Cary Grant being chased down by a dustcropper will be talked about and studied in film schools for years to come. The chase across Mt. Rushmore is a perfect way to climax the film as well...

There are smaller things to look for too. Watch for the famous kid in the snack shop who covers his ears seconds before a gun is shot and why did Hitchcock use THAT image over "The End"??? Hehehe...
2000-03-04
Quite possible Alfred Hitchcock's finest masterpiece
Masterpiece. Excellent. Brilliant. Film-making at its finest.

None of these statements do 'North by Northwest' justice. It truly is indescribable. If anyone has ever doubted Alfred Hitchcock's ability then this is the film that should surely overshadow any of those opinions.

Cary Grant plays the average man. But when he is mistaken for a spy his life spirals into an adventure that leads him to Mount Rushmore, crop fields and a beautiful woman (played ever so greatly by Eva Marie Saint).

The story is captivating, exciting and is everything a great film should be. It has scenes and lines that have become classics in the world of film and the combination of Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock is unmissable.

Ernest Lehmann has done an excellent job in writing the screenplay and this is by far one of his greatest achievements.

Overall, this film is a must see for everyone. Even if thrillers are not your favourite, it still provides great entertainment for all. It is by no means overrated and it hasn't been surpassed by any films since it's release.
2005-07-27
As Good As It Gets
I must have seen this movie at least 5 times. It is a brilliant drama/thriller and the whole production which includes direction, writing, music, acting, etc., is top quality. By a quirk of fate a businessman is unwittingly dragged into a deadly spy game. A whole series of adventures follow with plenty of twists and turns and surprises along the way. All the characters are charismatic, the villains are suitably bad and the hero suitably brave as well as amusing and flawed. The story is presented in a straight forward interesting way, with no unnecessary sub plots or distractions and a tour de force of a storyline with a super climax. Its over 50 years since the movie was released, and what a pity so many of today's films cannot compare to this one:

10/10
2012-01-07
My Favorite Hitch
"North by Northwest" is my favorite of all Hitchcock films (a close shave with "Rear Window"), and it permanently occupies a slot in my Personal Top Ten Films of All Time.

Grant is terrific--funny, sexy, angry, confused, exhausted, redeemed. It is a full-bodied performance. And speaking of bodies--Eva Marie Saint is *definitely* an asset here, not just for her looks (there's that cool, blond Hitch femme fatale again) but for showing off her acting chops as well.

James Mason is a consumate actor, and Hitch gives him a vehicle to enter one of his finest performances. Martin Landau, too, is appropriately chilling.

Favorite scenes? The crop-dusting sequence is certainly a classic. But I love the scenes with Roger and his mother, dickering over his "drunkenness." And the auction is Hitch in his element: the scene plays tense and terse but also funny.

I can quibble with this film: The blue-screening looks a bit cheesy nowadays. And the movie opens with a huge plot hole (when the page is searching for George Kaplan and Thornhill grabs his ear for a quick question, Mason et.al. believe Thornhill to be their man, setting off the entire plot. However, shouldn't the page have continued searching the room, calling for Mr. Kaplan? And shouldn't the villains have heard him continue to page, knowing that Thornhill wasn't who they assumed he was? Ahh, but that would blow the whole movie!).

This film also contains the best "naughty joke" Hitchcock ever devised. The final sequence is Eva Marie Saint and Grant pulling each other into bed. The jump cut is to a train entering a tunnel. You figure it out.
1998-12-09
Monumental
A timeless classic, one of the all-time great motion picture achievements. Cary Grant is an advertising executive whose life is turned upside down in the most bizarre way when he is mistaken for a mysterious government agent. Throughout an exciting adventure across America he must contend with spies, romance, betrayal and, in one famous scene, a murderous crop duster pilot. The genius of North by Northwest is that, despite imitations and the countless thrillers that followed it, one never knows quite what the next plot twist will be, or even what is real and what is not. Even nearly five decades later, the astounding finale at Mount Rushmore remains an amazing feat. North by Northwest is the perfect merger of all that was great about Hitchcock and all what is great about film.
2006-06-06
North by Northwest proves that great art can also be entertaining.
Alfred Hitchcock made this film at the height of his genius and also at the height of his popularity, when his television show gave him the kind of exposure and face recognition usually reserved for only the biggest stars. Hitch always maintained that great films should also entertain, North by Northwest being presented here as our star witness to prove his assertion to be correct.

Cary Grant plays Roger O. Thornhill as the slick Madison Avenue advertising man who is mistaken to be George Kaplin, a spy hot on the trail of Phillip Vandamm, played masterfully by James Mason. All we really know about Thornhill is the statement he makes to Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) on the train from New York to Chicago that he has a mother, several bartenders and two ex-wives dependant upon him for support. The "O" used to initial his middle name stands for "nothing" and his initials, R.O.T., sum up his life. These details are revealing and the scene is beautifully crafted, showing us the apparent emptiness of his life prior to this adventure. Ernst Lehman's script is loaded with these types of gems throughout the picture.

If you're really not into excellent dialogue and clever acting and prefer that the story get on with it, this also is the movie for you, as it has two of the most memorable action sequences in the history of motion pictures. Of course I'm referring to the crop dusting sequence and the finale on top of Mount Rushmore. Those are enough to put this movie near the top of anyone's must see list.

Kudos are also due to Leo G. Carroll in one of his best character roles as The Professor, who's humble appearance belies the fact that he is the one who is responsible for manipulating much of the action behind the scenes. A young Martin Landau, as Leonard, Vandamm's "right arm", shows us in the few scenes that he's in what a capable actor he was. The music by the great Bernard Herrmann is one of the classic pieces that made him famous, starting from the clever opening title sequence to it's conclusion.

If we view this movie in its historical context of 1959, we see that it was made in the middle of the Cold War, and much of the suspense is reliant upon the audience's reality of living with the knowledge that everything could end with the press of a button (I know this is too simplistic, but many people's perception at this point in history was just that). The Professor, Vandamm, Ms. Kendall, Leonard and others are Cold Warriors, and it is Thornhill's misfortune to become swept up in it's intrigues, but our very great fortune to be able to get swept up with him and let Hitcock, the "Master of Suspense", be our guide in one of his masterworks.
2006-04-25
Pure first class entertainment!
Together with "Psycho" and "The Birds", "North by Northwest" is among Hitchcock's most famous and praised films. It has been said that this movie marks the beginning of the action/thriller as we know it today, and not without reason as this film takes Hitchcock's favorite plot (ordinary man in unbelievable adventures) to the extreme in an epic adventure across U.S.

Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, an ordinary man who is mistaken for a spy and suddenly gets involved in a series of intrigues and adventures that will take him from Washington to Mount Rushmore as he tries to put an end to his problem. James Mason plays Phillip Vandamm, the international criminal who believes that Thornhill works for the U.S. government and desperately wants to kill him. Eve Marie Saint is Eve, a mysterious woman who helps Roger but has a secret agenda of her own.

It is obvious that Hitchcock wanted to pleasure his audience after the mixed reviews he received in "Vertigo", as he gives thrill after thrill in this roller-coaster but always with class and elegance. Thornhill goes from one peril to another and the suspense is always on the rise. Also, his dark humor returns and Cary Grant definitely is the best man to deliver it.

Cary Grant is perfect as Roger Thornhill, and it is probably the role of his lifetime. It is very well known the fact that James Stewart was the first choice but was rejected after the failure of "Vertigo". Even when personally I consider Stewart a better actor, Cary Grant was the perfect actor for the lighter Hitchcock; with his suave persona, good humor and classy elegance, Grant shines here as well as in "suspicion" and "To Catch a Thief". On the other hand, Stewart was more apt for the darker side of Hitchcock in films like "Rope", "Rear Window", and the masterpiece "Vertigo".

Eve Marie Saint joins the ranks of the icy blonds in the Master's films, as the beautiful and mysterious Eve. There was clearly good chemistry between her and Grant, and the sexual innuendo is brilliant. One can really believe that they are a couple of lovers in the middle of the international intrigue. Martin Landau and James Mason complete the cast as the villains and they surely give brilliant performances. The young Landau was set for a bright future and he demonstrates it in this early role.

Many things can be said about "North by Northwest", but one thing is true; while this movie is basically a series of scenes of danger and adventure, Hitchcock's masterful touch separates it from the rest and puts it in a superior place. His perfect camera-work and the score by the always effective Bernard Herrmann created immortal scenes. Sure, "Vertigo" is a superior movie, but it is easy to see why this one succeeded where "Vertigo" failed: "North by Northwest" was designed to please the audience.

Honestly, "North By Northwest" is not a perfect movie, it has its flaws and it is definitely not Hitchcock's best film. However, it has a lot of something special that can only be classified as "magic" that one can't help but enjoy the 136 minutes of thrills and adventure that the Master of Suspense prepared for us. 9/10
2006-04-18
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.
2015-10-20
One great mystery caper from Hitchcock!
North by Northwest is another one of Alfred Hitchcock's greats, a story where advertising executive Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistaken for a government agent by foreign spies. Therefore, he gets pursued across the country and tries to evade the spies, as well as the police who thinks Thornhill has committed murder.

Hitchcock keeps the suspense going throughout the film, filling you with intrigue and making you eager to know how Thornhill will get out of his debacle as we see him face one misadventure after the other. Hitchcock brilliantly combines drama and thrills in the movie with no boring fillers that captivates the audience from start to finish. There is also humor in abundance, most notable being Cary Grant's quick comebacks and wit, which puts in added charm and laughter to this thriller. And, speaking of charm, his on-screen chemistry with Eva Marie Saint is spot-on and touching, especially since she is a mystery woman throughout much of the film and her purpose is ambiguous.

Robert Burks did a great job on the cinematography, especially in achieving the brilliance in the refreshing aura, atmosphere and detailed scale of the Mt. Rushmore scenes, and Bernard Hermann gave us a chilling music score.

For the first time watching this 1959 movie in 2015, the story still looked refreshing and captivating to me and it is highly recommend to any fans of crime thrillers.

Grade A
2015-06-30
My favorite movie!
This movie is my favorite movie ever. I have seen it over twenty times, own a copy on video, and I never grow tired of seeing it. Ernest Lehman wrote an impeccable script, and the soundtrack of the film drew me into the movie music of its composer, Bernard Herrmann, who is a god, I think, officially. Grant and Mason are wonderful, and who could resist hearing their famous voices together in the same film. I love the way James Mason says, "Rapid City, South Da-ko-ta." The dialogue is quite funny. Hitchcock creates several great scenes besides the Mount Rushmore and the famous cropdusting scenes. For instance, the scene in which Roger Thornhill and his mother are on the elevator with Van Damme's henchmen, who are out to kill him. Only Hitchcock could make this so superbly. As the elevator descends, the music grows more intense and suspenseful, until the breaking point, at which Roger's mother says "You gentlemen aren't really trying to kill my son, are you?" To which the henchmen respond with side-splitting laughter, and are echoed by all the people on the elevator, including Roger's mother (played splendidly by Jessye Royce Landis), who laughs loudest of all.

The house which Van Damme resides in at the end is quite architecturally unique, as much as the house in Glen Cove is elegant and done quite well. There are some character actors in this film who will remind you of other roles they had, like the guy who played "Chief" in the hit series, "Get Smart," or the guy who plays one of the henchmen, who was the psychiatrist in a movie about a character played by Anthony Perkins who had a mental breakdown.

I admire Martin Landau's work in this film, and think he is severely underrated. Thank goodness he got some recognition for "Ed Wood." The trick of rubbing a pad and paper to find out an address as employed by Thornhill in the hotel room amazed me as a kid. Notice Thornhill (Grant) whistles "Singin' in the Rain" when he pretends to shower. Also, notice Hitchcock's cameo at the beginning when the titles are being displayed, he walks up to a bus door right as it is being closed, and as he walks forward, his title, "Directed by Alfred Hitchcock," disappears horizontally, left-to-right.

This movie is best watched from the very beginning before Leo the Lion's roar, while eating coconut cake (with 3 layers and real coconut, not angel flake). I really have tried it that way, several times.

The panic scene that ensues after the real Mr. Townsend is knifed by one of Van Damme's henchmen in the United Nations Building is great cinematography. The ladies standing up, in shock, the photographer, the person saying, "He's got a knife," and Thornhill's protestations of innocence go together to make a great scene. I am reminded of the panic scene near the beginning of Hitchcock's "Saboteur," in which the munitions plant begins burning down. You watch "Saboteur," and you'll see what I mean.

Eva Marie Saint is gorgeous in this and I wish I had been around back then in the wonderful fifties. Her red colored dress is particularly beautiful. All the dialogue in the love scenes is great, and of course, Hermann's musical number, "Conversation Piece," is quite good. I have the soundtrack on CD.

Of all the lines in the film, I like this one the best "Did you know you overplay your various roles, Mr. Kaplan? First you're the typical Madison Avenue man accused of a crime you know you didn't commit, now you're the peevish lover, stung by jealousy and betrayal." It goes something like that, and is spoken by Van Damme (James Mason).
2002-01-23
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