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North by Northwest

A 1959 suspense film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant.

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The consummate Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

  • Dec 7, 2009
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In November 2009, Warner Home Video released the 50th Anniversary 2 disc edition of Alfred Hitchcock's splendid 1959 thriller "North by Northwest".  The film stars Cary Grant, Eva Marie  and James Mason and proves to be just the right blend of wit, sophistication, glamour and action.  Many critics consider "North By Northwest" to be the finest picture Hitchcock ever made. 

Beginning with the clever title sequence that opens with lines crisscrossing the screen like railroad tracks "North by Northwest" is one of those films that grabs your undivided attention from the very outset and simply never lets go.  Our hero Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) finds himself unwittingly caught up in a case of international intrigue when foreign agents mistakenly identify him as a CIA operative named George Kaplan and abduct him.  He is taken to a compound on Long Island where heavy Phillip Vandamm (James Mason) gives him the third degree.  Thornhill desperately tries to convince his captors that they have made a mistake but they were simply having none of it.  Subsequently Thornhill manages to escape and in a desperate effort to get to the bottom of all of this he once again finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and is accused of the murder of a diplomat at the United Nations.  Now to further complicate matters we subsequently learn that there is no such person as George Kaplan!   Rather,  Kaplan is merely a non-existent operative created by U.S. Intelligence to draw attention away from the real operative in this melodrama Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint).  Once again Roger Thornhill is on the lam but this time he is not only being pursued by foreign agents but the the FBI and the police as well.  The plot thickens when Thornhill and Kendall meet on a westbound train.  The interplay between Cary Grant and Eva Saint Marie in this film is priceless.  Thornhill subsequently learns that George Kaplan does not even exist and agrees to help a spymaster Professor (Leo G. Carroll) in his pursuit of the bad guys.  Quite the experience for a New York advertising executive who was twice divorced because his ex-wives thought he lived a very dull life.  

When all is said and done I find there is little not to like about "North By Northwest"Ernest Lehman's screenplay is simply brilliant with painstaking attention paid to even the smallest of details.  The photography is stunning and Bernard Herrmann's compelling musical score strikes just the right note at several key points in this motion picture.  And as usual Alfred Htichcock's direction proves to be virtually flawless.  "North By Northwest'  offers two of the most memorable scenes in the history of the movies.   Who can ever forget the cropduster sequence where a pilot attempts to run down Thornhill in an open field in the middle of nowhere.  And then there is the climatic scene on the face of Mount Rushmore.  Simply spectacular!   Both of these scenes were the result of ideas that Alfred Hitchcock had been tossing around in this head for years!  

As I mentioned at the top the deluxe 50th Anniversary edition of "North by Northwest" was just been released by Warner Home Video.  What a great package!  The "bonus" disc features extensive and incisive commentary by the film's screenwriter Ernest Lehman.  Numerous other features are also included on this disc that I have not yet had the time to sample.   The 50th Anniversary Edition of "North by Northwest" would be an awesome gift for just about any classic film buff.   Five decades later "North by Northwest" remains a fast paced thriller that will keep you on your toes from start to finish.  If you have never had an opportunity to see this film I urge you to grab yourself a copy. Very highly recommended! 

The consummate Alfred Hitchcock film. The consummate Alfred Hitchcock film. The consummate Alfred Hitchcock film. The consummate Alfred Hitchcock film.

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August 10, 2010
A great review! I whole heartedly concur. One of my all time faves. Great Cast, James Mason one of my top three fave old time actors. Cary Grant needs no kudos from me, one of the best. Eva Marie Saint is gorgeous and sexy in this movie. I love the dialogue in old movies, something really missing in modern movies!!!
More North by Northwest reviews
review by . June 23, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     Alfred Hitchcock makes some really fine movies; movies that reach, impact, and give the viewer new ways to look at movies. Most would think "Psycho" when they hear the great director's name, although we must not forget the other great movies that Hitchcock has made. In spite of their narrative simplicity, I love Hitchcock's ability to draw the viewer in, and the sheer entertainment value of the production was enough to make me adore my latest Hitchcock outing, …
Quick Tip by . August 10, 2010
One of my all time faves. Great Cast, James Mason one of my top three fave old time actors. Cary Grant needs no kudos from me, one of the best. Eva Marie Saint is gorgeous and sexy in this movie. I love the dialogue in old movies, something really missing in modern movies!!!
review by . July 04, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
An unfortunate aspect of growing up in America is that the turnover in culture is so fast that many older classics are almost unknown to the modern generation. This is especially so with old movies, which, outside of holiday fare like the Ten Commandments or The Sound of Music, do not make comebacks once a decade or so, unlike clothing fashions. This is why so many young people have never seen an Alfred Hitchcock movie. For the longest time, I was one of the ignorant masses, until my mother told …
review by . July 24, 2003
posted in Movie Hype
It's difficult to believe that a film which includes the knifing of a United Nations ambassador as well as several different attempts to murder an innocent man could be described as delightful entertainment...but that is true of this film, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and featuring Cary Grant in the lead role. Roger O. Thornhill (Grant) is the aforementioned innocent man. Hitchcock delineates consequences of mistaken identity, misplaced trust, being somewhere "at the wrong time," acting on assumptions …
review by . July 22, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
This is probably Hitchcock's greatest film. It stands up alongside REAR WINDOW and PSYCHO as his great opus.Cary Grant teams with Hitchcock for the fourth and final time in this benchmark espionage journey that was recently judged by the AFI as one of their top 100 films.Grant plays a Madison Avenue executive who becomes mistaken for a Government agent by a team of spies led by James Mason. He unwillingly becomes involved in a series of misadventures and is pursued across the States by both the …
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Paul Tognetti ()
Ranked #2
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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A strong candidate for the most sheerly entertaining and enjoyable movie ever made by a Hollywood studio (withCitizen Kane,Only Angels Have WingsandTrouble in Paradiserunning neck and neck). Positioned between the much heavier and more profoundly disturbingVertigo(1958) and the stark horror ofPsycho(1960),North by Northwest(1959) is Alfred Hitchcock at his most effervescent in a romantic comedy-thriller that also features one of the definitive Cary Grant performances. Which is not to say that this is just "Hitchcock Lite"; seminal Hitchcock critic Robin Wood (in his book Hitchcock's Films Revisited) makes an airtight case for this glossy MGM production as one of The Master's "unbroken series of masterpieces from Vertigo to Marnie." It's a classic Hitchcock Wrong Man scenario: Grant is Roger O. Thornhill (initials ROT), an advertising executive who is mistaken by enemy spies for a U.S. undercover agent named George Kaplan. Convinced these sinister fellows (James Mason as the boss, and Martin Landau as his henchman) are trying to kill him, Roger flees and meets a sexy Stranger on a Train (Eva Marie Saint), with whom he engages in one of the longest, most convolutedly choreographed kisses in screen history. And, of course, there are the famous set pieces: the stabbing at the United Nations, the crop-duster plane attack in the cornfield (where a pedestrian has no place to hide), and the cliffhanger finale atop the stone faces of Mount ...
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Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Mystery
Release Date: 1959
MPAA Rating: Unrated
DVD Release Date: November 3, 2009
Runtime: 2hrs 16min
Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
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"classic Hitchcock"
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