North by Northwest

BBFC PG Certificate

(1959) 136 mins

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Writer: Ernest Lehman
Cinematography: Robert Berks
Production Design: Robert Boyle
Music: Bernard Herrmann



New York advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) finds himself caught up in a web of international espionage when he is mistaken for a man by the name of George Kaplan. Foreign spy Philip Vandamm (James Mason) and his henchmen first try to eliminate him and then succeed in getting him framed for murder. Now on the run, he boards a train bound for Chicago and meets a beautiful stranger, Eve Kendall (Eva-Marie Saint), who helps him to evade the authorities. But nothing is what it seems, least of all Eve.  One of Hitchcock’s greatest films, it culminates in a thrilling showdown on the top of Mt Rushmore.

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“Director Alfred Hitchcock and a covey of willing and able traveling companions have made North by Northwest, which was unveiled at the Music Hall yesterday, a suspenseful and delightful Cook’s Tour of some of the more photogenic spots in these United States. Although they are involved in lightning-fast romance and some loose intrigue, it is all done in brisk, genuinely witty and sophisticated style . . .   The director and Ernest Lehman, his scenarist, are not, to put a fine point on it, really serious about their mystery. With a tongue-in-cheek attitude and a breezy sense of humor, they are off in high gear right at the beginning as they spin the somewhat improbable yarn of a successful, handsome Madison Avenue executive, who is mistaken for a Federal intelligence man by foreign agents and forcibly pushed into a succession of macabre situations that shock, amaze, perplex, and anger our once-debonair hero.”  New York Times 1959

Hitchcock obviously loves telling the absurd story with such brazen confidence. It’s fast-paced, funny and surprising. It’s a nonsense, but when the storytelling is this good it doesn’t matter. Simply, hang on tight and don’t question the improbabilities of the Meccano-set plot.  This has been the model for suspense thrillers to follow for 50 years and fully deserving of its restoration and re-release.”  Eye for Film 2009

Fri 20 Nov Stutton
Sat 21 Nov Greywell
Sun 13 Dec Crowcombe


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