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A delicious example of mid-century Hollywood cinema cooked to absolute perfection, North by Northwest is Alfred Hitchcock at his most entertainingly effervescent, in a romantic comedy/thriller that also features one of the definitive Cary Grant performances.
“A great film, and certainly one of the most entertaining movies ever made, directed by Alfred Hitchcock at his peak.” – Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
It’s a classic Hitchcock Wrong Man scenario: the ever-suave, ever-unflappable Grant is Roger O. Thornhill, an advertising executive who is mistaken by enemy spies for a U.S. undercover agent named George Kaplan. Convinced these sinister fellows (James Mason as the boss, and Martin Landau as his henchman) are trying to kill him, Roger flees and meets a mysterious blonde Stranger on a Train (Eva Marie Saint), with whom he engages in one of the longest, most intricately-choreographed kisses in screen history. In short order, our hero is variously chased, abducted, framed for murder, and, in the film’s famous signature set-piece, crop-dusted. All roads eventually lead to the thrilling cliffhanger finale atop the stone faces of Mt. Rushmore that will literally leave you breathless. But that’s not all! In addition to a sparkling Ernest Lehman script and a pulse-quickening Bernard Herrmann score, North by Northwest is also a veritable jackpot of fabulous mid-century modern architecture and design. What moviegoer could ask for more? (Dir. by Alfred Hitchcock, 1959, USA, 136 mins., Not Rated)