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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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Why not Hitchcock's best?
To summarise, let's just say this is over two hours long and yet seems to last only minutes. You just wish it were longer.

And all the clichés in it were there for the first time: we've just seen them so many times since. I think it was in his conversations with Truffaut that Hitchcock said that, when a character is on the run in a film, he is always shown as walking down rain-washed cobbled streets, hiding in the night, but Hitchcock wanted to change all that and make it as light as possible, hence the crop-duster scene ... as every director has done ever since.

Back-projection has never been that good in Hitchcock's films, I'm sorry to say. I think that film-goers were just expected to accept it at the time. But I think the special effects in the finale (now where was it set?) are superb, and I really feel that the actors and stand-ins are really there (I was surprised it wasn't actually filmed there) ... apart from the studio inserts, that is.

But the plot is entirely original (or so I believe, but you always find something in the archives ...); Lehman's lines are very witty (and sexy!); the casting is superb (Grant never turned in a bad performance, and Landau, Mason and, especially, Carroll, setting himself up for his long-term role in his later acting career, are outstanding); and, like all Hitchcock's films, it's a fine comedy (and Psycho is the biggest joke of all). So why do all the critics always favour Vertigo, Rear Window, Strangers on a Train, The Trouble with Harry or Psycho?

Well, North by Northwest is my favourite Hitchcock anyway.

And I'm sure I don't have to mention Herrmann's massive contribution.

In fact, my only objection is James Mason's cardigan. I find that so irritating!
Hitchcock keeps popping out the classics...
When you thought that he's all out of ideas and last minute rescues, Hitchcock comes back with more eye candy and great action. North by Northwest is sometimes called Hitchcock's last great film. Carey Grant and Eva Marie Saint have very good chemistry and the inclusion of not one, not two, not three, but severa plot twists makes this film one of Hitchcock's best.

One thing not focused on in this film is the use of camera angles. When Roger is taken to make the telegram, the camera slides from a foreground view of Roger's lunch buddies, to the two standing men in a background view. Also, when Roger awaits George Kaplan in the field, there is a great establishing shot of Roger where there is total silence and calm until the eerie plane is spotted. One last camera technique that Hitchcock perfected was when, in the final moments of the Mount Rushmore chase, Roger Thornhill and Eve Kendall were saved by the sniper. The body of the person shot was shown and then a tilt up to the sniper showed the detectives. Little snipets like these were just a few things Hitchcock did well.

Overall, this movie was one of the best I've seen ever. For a 1950s movie, it is ahead of it's time and paved the way for future films to imitate many of the innovations that the flick brought to the screen. Go out and see this movie!
The Greatest Mystery/Thriller Of All Time.
Alfred Hitchcock's speciality is thrillers. Some are straight thrillers, some conjoin with romances, horror, this conjoins with mystery. Hitchcock has combined these two, but has never done a better and more exciting film. Nobody has ever or will ever do a better, more exciting film. Having said that, is this better than, say, Vertigo or Psycho? Arguably. But Vertigo is a romance/thriller, Psycho is a horror/thriller and NBNW is a mystery/thriller. This does surpass other movies of its kind like Rear Window and The Maltese Flacon. The general story is a classic case of mistaken identity where a complex, top-secret government plan is under wraps. The movie grabs you by your collar the in the first two minutes and never lets go as the thrills and curves never stop coming at you full force. The main character (Cary Grant) careens to different ends of America as he must keep up with the game of cat-and-mouse he dies to get out of. Unlike Rear Window and The Maltese Flacon, NBNW features chase and danger sequences that add more excitement to its already mammoth exhilarating plot.

Screw running, screw the gym. This movie can get your heart rate going in a much more enjoyable way.
Thrill, Spills....and Hitch!
Cary Grant is THE James Bond who never was.

He was approached to play the role in the early 60's but he declined, citing that he was too old. Sean Connery got the job instead, and was a huge success. But one feels that Grant would have been the definitive Bond if he ever played the role. This, and 'Notorious', are certainly his best films for Hitchcock, and this is certainly his best Bond-type role. He stars as Roger O. Thornhill, a suave, womanising, New York advertising executive who is drawn into a web of intrigue after suffering a case of mistaken identity. He ends up being pursued across the country, unwittingly embroiling himself further in the web with his dalliances with Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint, as the Is She Good Or Is She Bad? femme)and others.

Hitchock's favoured 'Wrong Man' situation is utilised perfectly here, as Grant is caught up in circumstances that he has no control over. But Grant takes it on the chin, and his charisma and comedic timing as Thornhill are excellent. This is a most entertaining and humorous Hitchcock film that maintains it's pace and action for over two hours. The suspense never lets up, as we are treated with some truly amazing sequences, including the finale atop Mt Rushmore, a UN headquarters visit, and THAT pesky crop duster. And keep in mind that these are just a few of the many, many amazing scenes here.

Eva Marie Saint is so different here from the innocent Edie Doyle role in 'On The Waterfront' that garnered her an Oscar. She's matured into a sweetly seductive woman of the world who Grant falls head over heels for. Their encounter on the train is filled with corny pick-up lines and rather silly yet juicy dialogue, but it WORKS. One feels cheated when the train affair actually ends; re-winding is essential.

Hitch's love of trains is also conveyed perfectly here, with the train symbolising sexual attraction and mystery (check the closing shot especially- very overt symbolism!), as Grant and Saint ride on board. We also have great villains in James Mason and Marty Landau. The very charismatic James Mason is wonderful as the trademark very charismatic Hitchcock villain, Phillip Vandamm. His trademark mellifluous voice and dark good looks (is this man not insanely attractive?)are used to great effect here. He gets many great lines.

This is a re-working of Hitchcock's British film, The Thirty-Nine Steps (1935) with Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll. Comparison is not really warranted, as they films from entirely different era's and made in different countries with vastly differing budgets. However, 'North by Northwest' jumps over the earlier effort when they are compared as just two Hitchcock films from the cannon.

Made a year after 'Vertigo' bombed, 'North By Northwest' is seen by many as Hitch's safe, crowd-pleaser film. True in many ways, yet it is an unassailable classic regardless of any formulaic overtones. Grant is perfect in this rip-roaring ride full of suspense.

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.
The Best of the Guilty Pleasures
Although I don't think this is Hitch's best film (IMHO that's "Rear Window"), it's my favorite, partly because it features the Century Limited (which also has a featured role in "The Sting") and partly because the cast is so deep -- besides the top drawer stars (Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, and Martin Landau) it has great supporting character actors -- Leo G. Carroll, Jessie Royce Landis, Philip Ober, Edward Platt, Ed Binns, Les Tremayne, and the uncredited Malcolm Atterbury.

The plot's merely a device to put together a string of unlikely set pieces involving Roger O. Thornhill (Grant), an advertising exec who is mistaken for a secret agent by two thugs, and taken off to meet the evil Jonathan Van Damme (Mason) masquerading as a UN Diplomat. The purpose of the charade is never explained; nor are Van Damme's contrived methods of offing Thornhill, none of which is successful. In a series of unlikely coincidences, Thornhill finds himself wanted for murder and fleeing from the police on the Century Limited, the train from New York to Chicago that saw thousands of passengers a day in its prime. Thornhill meets and seduces a beautiful young blonde on the train, who remarkably agrees to hide him from the authorities; mirabile dictu, she's Van Damme's girlfriend. But we don't care about the improbably confluence of events that drive the picture to its remarkable conclusion in South Dakota.

The first among many excellent off-screen contributions is the Bernard Hermann soundtrack, whose frequent hemiolas paint an aural picture of the jagged angles suggested by the title and the opening credits set against the facade of the UN building.

I agree with the many reviewers who put this movie at the top of their lists, and pity those who can't see the humor or suspense in this Hitch classic. One suggestion -- see this on the big screen, if you can. Just for an example, the crop dusting scene is suspenseful enough on DVD; the last time I watched it in a theater, people were ducking in their seats to get away from the plane.
More like a Bond movie than a Hitchcock movie, but much better
Though I may have to turn in my 007 fan card for saying so, "North by Northwest" is more riveting, classy, and funny than any Bond movie, and predates the earliest "official" Bond film by three years. Cary Grant's protagonist may be an unwilling spy, but he is a natural one, bantering confidently with baddies in posh hotels and doggedly courting a mysterious femme fatale (Eva Marie Saint). The crop duster scene is perhaps the best and most iconic action sequence that Hitchcock ever filmed. James Mason makes an ideal antagonist, dwelling in a Bond-villain-style lodge atop a famous U.S. landmark. Twists and triple-crosses make for an exciting, complex tale.
A must-see for Alfred Hitchcock fans, their loved ones, and and their friends!
Having seen this movie in excess of 15 times, I am aware of each scene from start to finish. Yet, this piece is not designed to spoil the plot, merely to entice those movie fans who have not yet seen this masterpiece.

"North by Northwest" stars Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Leo G. Carroll and Martin Landau (pre-"Mission Impossible").

The basic story is one of an advertising man whose life suddenly takes a drastic turn into espionage and murder. Humor and even romance are deftly woven into this suspenseful tale.

This movie will make you laugh and maybe swoon as you sit on the edge of your seat.

The cast does a terrific job. Cary Grant can do drama and comedy perfectly, and this movie shows him in a peak performance.

Eva Marie Saint is quite sexy and excellent as the "cool blonde" (Hitchcock liked blondes in the lead female role) in this tale.

James Mason and Martin Landau play the antagonists. They are well-dressed and quite sinister

Leo G. Carroll plays a government agent - one can see why he played the spy leader in "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." in the 1960's.

If you have heard of the movie, there are sequences involving a crop-duster and Mount Rushmore. Hitchcock loved to experiment visually, and he succeeds admirably with those aforementioned sequences and the others that tie this film together.

Don't look away too long. This is not a film to be played in the background and interrupted regularly. Also, Hitchcock made a habit of appearing in cameo roles in his films. Originally, it was because the film required more people in certain scenes. Later on, it became a trademark.

In addition, the cinematography is very pleasing in color, the script is abundant with standout dialogue, and that music score - Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann were a perfect match.

I personally never tire of the film. It had taken years for me to see in its full widescreen format, and it was worth the wait.

See it.

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
One of the best classic movies
When Hitchcock Truffaut was asked about the little merit that gave this kind of movie to benefit dramas like Bicycle Thieves, and Truffaut himself loved the script of this incredible movie, for that matter, for being terribly absurd, Hitchcock replied that the taste for the absurd wore it entirely religious. When one gets to see With North by Northwest, sets and does not stop. Because, unlike other films of the teacher, this starts at 2 minutes. And it's something as absurd as a mistake. The McGuffin elevated to masterpiece.

As I said, based on the most absurd of all, an error in a phone call, Hitch builds a kind of parody spy film, based on one mistake after another, from one absurd fact followed by another fact even absurd. But the success of this film is not taking itself seriously. It is still a very great Hitchcock joke, a tease the viewer. Probably, if the great script by Ernie Lehmann had fallen into other hands, would have ended up as a mere spy movie, with good and bad clearly differentiated. but with the teacher becomes a comedy that borders on pure moments of surrealism, like the fact that Cary Grant's mother was only 10 months older than him, or the drunken scene at the police station or the auction are pure anthology surrealism and absurdity free. But none like the plane. With nothing to fumigate, Hitchcock gives us a plane in the middle of nowhere, the most absurd of killing someone, and get it is great, because another director would have made us stupid with this free sundries the image.

With a prodigious Cary Grant, James Mason and has become the iconic bad Hitchcock movie, and Eve Marie Saint, who despite being less Hitchcock girl all his movies in the '50s, was never more seductive than here, Alfred Hitchcock once again proved that he is a master in the casting, and then replacing some of their concerns at stake, as the false mother guilty or somewhat peculiar, again proved he was the greatest coach in history. Each of his films has a unique touch that gave him both in the staging, as in the soundtrack, the main theme as indicated by where they air the shots, and of course, with Bass credits, which then would be exceeded in Psycho.
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