Posted on 6/26/13 08:09 AM
Over the years, Alfred Hitchcock has made famed, suspenseful classics, such as Rebecca, Vertigo, The Birds, and The 39 Steps. North by Northwest is another one of these classics.
In North by Northwest, businessman Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistaken for American agent George Kaplan. From then on, he is abducted by Phillip Vandamm (James Mason), who has a secret agenda in his brain, and is framed for the murder of United Nations diplomat Lester Townsend (Philip Ober). Thornhill goes cross country to discover who Kaplin really is and to stop Vandamm from whatever sneaky move he's about to make.
Also in the film, Eva Marie Saint plays Eve Kendall, a woman who seduces Thornhill along the way, Martin Landau plays Leonard, Vandamm's henchman, Jesse Royce Landis plays Thornhill's mother, and Alfred Hitchcock makes a memorable cameo as a man who misses a bus.
North by Northwest laid the foundation for many action films, such as the James Bond films and Raiders of the Lost Ark. It is an important piece of American film, and one of Hitchcock's best films.
If you have read my review for To Catch a Thief, you probably remember that I wasn't fond of Cary Grant's performance in the film. Here, he's spectacular. From his personality, smart dialogue, and good charms, Grant is hard to resist and you'd think he was James Bond. Eva Marie Saint is attractive and also plays a great role as the love interest. The love scene is a highlight in the film, so big that it was considered raunchy at the time that Hitchcock had to change some of Saint's dialogue ("I never make love on an empty stomach" was changed to "I never discuss love on an empty stomach."). I felt that unnecessary, but oh well...
James Mason plays a great villain, and his voice sounds like pure evil. Hitchcock picked him well.
The score by Bernard Hermann is also a suspense. Like in Vertigo, the score chills and thrills.
Many of the sequences in this film are some of Hitchcock's most well-crafted scenes. The most famous includes Grant and Saint climbing down Mount Rushmore, Grant using knowledge to get out of an auction filled with thugs, and the film's biggest highlight, Grant being chased by a crop duster. That scene alone is worth the price of admission.
With a smart script, a suspenseful plot, a thrilling score, and wonderful performances, North by Northwest is a Hitchcock classic. It's not as phenomenal as Vertigo, but it's a great film just the same.