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North by Northwest

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

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A delightful thriller from the master of suspense, thrills, and even humor; Alfred Hitchcock.

  • Jun 23, 2011
**** 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, "North by Northwest"; an ingenious espionage thriller that possibly even ranks amongst one of my favorites for its genre.

There are few ways to top a good Hitchcock film. They are so fun to watch, so fun to unravel, and so fun to toy around with long after the first viewing. Like "Psycho" and even "Vertigo", "North by Northwest" is a film that requires multiple viewings. Living this way might lead to a better realization of what makes the film so iconic. After all, it's right in front of our eyes; and Hitchcock has fun allowing us to sniff out the brilliance of his films.

An Advertising Executive, Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is interrupted during his lunch and is taken away by two mysterious men who mistake him for another person, George Kaplan. Thornhill is then brought to the home of Lester Townsend. There, he meets the man who he assumes is Townsend, but really turns out to be a spy named Vandamm. The man forces Thornhill to drink bourbon so that he can set up the perfect car accident. It would make it seem as if Thornhill had been drunk driving. I assume that the purpose of the staged crash would be to turn people against Thorhill, even though he claims not to be the man that Vandamm and his people seem to think he is.

After attempting to locate the real man these people are after, and failing, Thornhill decides that he musts make a run for it, because those after him will stop at nothing to eliminate him from the equation of existence. This involves iconic scenes in which Thornhill runs from crop dusters, hangs from Mt. Rushmore, and puts on radical glasses to prevent those who are after him from recognizing him (clever, right).

Along the way, Thornhill is tempted by the love of Eve (Eva Marie Saint), who much like every character within the film, is not quite who she appears to be. So basically, the film itself is a traditional spy/love story that mimics the soon-to-be iconic works of James Bond. In fact, people claim that "North by Northwest" IS an early James Bond film, and I couldn't have put it any better myself. This is a good old fashion spy film; without explosions, without endless action that counts as "mind-numbing", and without a dull moment to spare. What a great film is was.

Say you know Hitchcock from movies like "Psycho" or "Rear Window". "Psycho", in particular, is often considered a horror film, although Hitchcock himself probably would have disagreed. He would have called it a suspense film, or a thriller; and Hitchcock is brilliant at staging both. I've always known Hitchcock as a brilliant mind, but only now I am realizing that even then I underestimated the man's ability to exercise flawless craftsmanship. I watch Hitchcock films to be thrilled, entertained, and indulged to see more. There are many things behind the success of "North by Northwest", and some should be left for another day.

From the brilliant opening to the end, I knew I was watching a classic. And it was a classic that I ended up loving. I do not love classics simply because people tell me they are classics; I love them because, well, I truly love them. That is the case here. I really did like watching "North by Northwest". It doesn't try to overcomplicate itself with symbolism, it is very well-written and perfectly paced, and Bernard Herrmann's original score is exciting, lively, and thrilling; just as it wants to be. The film contains wonderful performances and direction. I can recommend it highly, or I can just skip recommendation all-together and tell you to get your filthy mitts on a copy, and watch the damn thing. You won't regret my request.

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June 23, 2011
Very nice review and thanks for posting this in Movie Hype!
June 23, 2011
I just wanted to add too that they did an awesome job restoring this on bluray! One of the best indeed!
More North by Northwest reviews
review by . December 07, 2009
The consummate Alfred Hitchcock film.
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 …
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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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … 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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