Classic Film Guide

North By Northwest (1959)

This is certainly my favorite from among his many movies, and probably the ultimate Alfred Hitchcock film, I think. It employs all the successful elements of his previous films including the use of Cary Grant, as Roger Thornhill - "the innocent man, unjustly accused, being chased cross-country while trying to prove his innocence" and yet still manages to excite, surprise, and amaze us with incredible imaging and suspense which is thankfully punctuated with humorous relief (some provided by Jesse Royce Landis, as Thornhill's mother Clara). Eve Marie Saint plays the cool blonde Eve Kendall excellently, but not quite as well as James Mason and Martin Landau perfect the villains, Phillip Vandamm and Leonard (respectively). Leo G. Carroll (appearing in his last of six of the director's films), Josephine Hutchinson, and Philip Ober (among others) also appear.

So many memorable scenes, but to list just a few: the drunken drive by Grant, the return to the (now changed) mansion with the police, the murder of the U.N. diplomat, the auction scene, scenes on the train(s) especially at the end, the crop dusting chase sequence, those at the Frank Lloyd Wright house, and (of course) the ones at Mount Rushmore. The film received three Academy Award nominations: Color Art Direction-Set Decoration, Editing (George Tomasini's only Oscar nomination), and for Ernest Lehman's original story and screenplay; Hitchcock earned a Directors Guild of America nomination. It was added to the National Film Registry in 1995. #40 on AFI's 100 Greatest Movies list; #4 on AFI's 100 Most Heart-Pounding Movies list.

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Read about the documentaries - The Master's Touch: Hitchcock's Signature Style (2009) & North by Northwest: One for the Ages (2009) - on the 50th Anniversary Edition DVD!

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