North by Northwest Reviews
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: The plot does get a little caught up with itself at times
VERDICT: A classic for all the right reasons; 'North by Northwest' is a piece of cinematic gold that stands on its own just as confidently as it does in its place in cinema history.
I could say so much about how good this movie is. From the gripping story, intense action, great acting, and full of suspense, North by Northwest surly remains one of Hitchcock's best.
They had great cameras in those days, and from this comes the best points
about this film - the cameras and how they were used. Very atmospheric,
the cinematography is very well done and the visual editing very good.
It's possibly better today at home in its excellent transfer to
digital. (I rented the streaming film in SD, which was great quality on
a computer monitor which is not large.)
For me, though, that's nearly as far as it goes. The acting has a lot
to commend it at times, and Cary Grant pulls off well what is very
demanding - trying to tie the script's lack of conviction and film
genre identity together.
North by Northwest must be the most contrived of all spy films.
It also fails as a typical Hitchcock entertainment piece, I think
because the subject is always on the verge of real seriousness. But the
film can never devote itself to such seriousness in the way that
classic spy films do and in the way these subjects really deserve
Too far away from Sunday apple pie movie land to be endearing, too
bitty, flimsy, theatrical and unsatisfying to be effective in basic thriller terms, and too unserious and kid glove hewn to be worth its salt amongst the lexicon of classic spy films.
North by Northwest was a probably an impressive showpiece for
cinematography and the potential of atmosphere and brilliance in the
track from camera to cinema screen. But, like a beautiful damsel agent
who flirts but is getting paid for her rehearsed attempts to win you,
the film has little else of merit beyond its looks and moves.