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   NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) 

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CAST
Cary Grant
Eva Marie Saint
James Mason
Martin Landau
Leo G. Carroll
Adam Williams
Edward Platt

DIRECTED BY
Alfred Hitchcock

PURCHASE


DVD



About Grant




Time: 136 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Action/Thriller

Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing and Best Original Screenplay.


If you read enough of my reviews, you'll come to realize that I'm a huge fan of Hitchcock. That's not to say that I, or anyone else for that matter, think all of his films are wonderful. Even he made some real stinkers. However, he was always trying to push the envelope and deliver an experience the audience has never seen before. It's that constant struggle for surprise that makes him one of the great directors. NORTH BY NORTHWEST is based on so simple a premise it could happen to any of us. Roger Thornhill, a slightly cocky advertising executive (like there's any other kind), is sitting in a restaurant with clients when he realizes he has to make a phone call. He raises his hand to summon a page, just after the page calls out the name George Kaplan. The page walks over thinking Thornhill is Kaplan. He's not the only one.

When Roger leaves, two "gentlemen" escort him to their car and whisk him away due to misguided information. His bad timing propels him into a fight for his identity and his life. He desperately tries to explain to the gentlemen and their boss that he's not George Kaplan, but Roger Thornhill, a Manhattan ad man. They don't buy this story and try to extract the information they want to know. When Roger sticks to his story, they become even more convinced he's their man and attempt to do away with him for good. Roger's luck holds out, but when he tries to convince the police of his bizarre encounter they don't believe him. Even his own mother, thinks he's got rocks in his head. Since his kidnappers leave no trace whatsoever, his story is pretty hard to back up. Determined to prove what he experienced was real, he assumes the identity of Kaplan and gets embroiled even deeper into the mystery. The government, who's been using the name George Kaplan as an alias for years, decides to see how far he can get. They know they're playing with his life, but if they stop him, it will jeopardize their entire case. To get him off their trail, his kidnappers frame him for murder.


"No. No, Mother, I have not been drinking. No. No. These two men, they poured a whole bottle of bourbon into me. No, they didn't give me a chaser."

Now on the run, he meets up with a lovely, young woman (played by Eva Marie Saint) who is more involved in the mystery than she lets on. The attraction between them is palpable though all they ever share onscreen is a kiss. This proves a love scene doesn't have to be graphic to be sexy. They end up stopping the killers in a fantastic finale atop one of the nation's largest monuments. It's a nail-biter from start to finish. Cary Grant is at his suave, confused best in this film. He's not about to let these men get the better of him. Nothing will stop him from uncovering the truth. He has such conviction and presence I wish I was alive when he was in his heyday. He's one of the movies best actors ever, brilliant at both comedy and drama. We could use more like him today.

The plot is great, unfolding at the perfect pace. It's a roller coaster ride from beginning to end with many surprises in between. Not only is it well-written and intelligent, the story keeps you guessing about its secrets until the very end. Though the action sequences are tame by today's standards, they make me yearn for the less is more days. It's pretty impressive when you realize that Hitchcock had to create suspense without fancy special effects and outrageous explosions. That's talent. If you're looking for a great mystery/thriller take this out for a spin. You won't be disappointed.



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