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North By Northwest [1959] - 8.98

A strong candidate for possibly the most entertaining and enjoyable film ever made by a Hollywood studio, North by Northwest is positioned between the much heavier and more profoundly disturbing Vertigo (1958) and the stark horror of Psycho (1960). In the corpus of Alfred Hitchcock films it shows the director at his most effervescent in a romantic comedy-thriller that also features one of the definitive Cary Grant performances. Which is not to say that this is just "Hitchcock Lite". It's a classic Hitchcock Wrong Man scenario: Grant is Roger O Thornhill (initials ROT), an advertising executive who is mistaken by enemy spies for a US 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 sexy Stranger on a Train (Eva Marie Saint), with whom he engages in one of the longest, most convolutedly choreographed kisses in screen history. And of course there are the famous set pieces: the stabbing at the United Nations, the crop-duster plane attack in the cornfield (where a pedestrian has no place to hide) and the cliffhanger finale atop the stone faces of Mount Rushmore. With its sparkling Ernest Lehman script and that pulse-quickening Bernard Herrmann score, what more could a filmgoer possibly desire? --Jim Emerson, Amazon.com

On the DVD: This wide-screen print of the movie looks remarkably fresh, preserving the vivid depth of the original's VistaVision cinematography. The main extra feature is a new and entertaining 40-minute documentary hosted by Eva Marie Saint in which most of the surviving cast and crew give their insights into the making of the picture (we learn for example that canny Cary Grant charged 15 cents per autograph). Screenwriter Ernest Lehman provides an audio commentary and on a separate audio-only track Bernard Herrmann's masterful score can be heard in its entirety. There's also a stills gallery and trailers. --Mark Walker

Customer reviews (av rating: 5.0):

Rating: 5:
A Hitchcock's masterpiece : North by Northwest is truly a movie masterpiece by legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. If you watch North by Northwest, you will understand my valid reasoning for labelling it as a masterpiece.

The movie is absolutely thrilling and hugely entertaining from the start to the end. The pivotal point of the movie reaches is when a normal day of an advertising executive (Roger O Thornhill played by Cary Grant) turned into days of hell and adventure, in which he is kidnapped for a mistaken identity of CIA undercover agent and framed for murder. At this point onwards, the movie is filled with high levels of drama and suspense to maintain your full interest. There is some shuttle humour in the movie to entertain you as well. The art of a superb suspense thriller is clearly demonstrated in North by Northwest, as it keeps you as the viewer fully absorbed in the movie with the background music and relentless chase sequences.

North by Northwest is one of the most entertaining and superb suspense thrillers, which I have thoroughly enjoyed watching. The movie is truly a masterpiece; irrespective of how outdated it appears to be. Modern day movies could really learn some valuable tricks from this movie, as it demonstrated the art of a superb suspense thriller. Always keep the audience in suspense and do not make it blatantly obvious, otherwise the beauty and nature of the movie is spoiled.

Rating: 5:
You will not be disappointed : I bought this dvd because I had fond memories watching this fim as a kid. Remember i'm only 32, so I never saw it when it came out at the movies...but I remember my parents always saying "watch it, trust me!"

...and now I'm doing the same with my girlfriend...
it is staggering how it still remains to be a top notch film.

It's an action movie about mistaken identity, and when Cary Grant is on the run from the baddies, and the cops, he gets into all sorts of trouble.

Chase scenes galore, fantastic dialogue, impressive drama, even humour...yes this film has it all. Personally it's my favourite Hitchcock film.

In many ways the film has dated (old cars, guns etc) but in many ways it still remains a film that demands to be watched again and again. There's more twists and turns than some modern action flicks you see in the movies today.

It's a cheap price to pay for such an awesome film.
Bargin...buy it.

Rating: 5:
No mother, I have not been drinking! : Unarguably one of the most terrific movies to ever hit the screens. With an absolutely superb script and compelling cinematography, it sucks you in and keeps you thinking and guessing about what's going on and how it's all going to pan out. The story development is that good, for it hits a few natural chords, such as the confusion between a spy of many identities and a random man. How can that random man prove that he is not the spy of many identities that the others have mistaken him for? There is no way out of this dragnet once it sets around you, as Roger O. Thornhill suddenly finds out. And the more he tries to get out, the deeper he gets entangled. Naturally. And the avalanche gathers more snow as it goes along in true Hitchcock pace.

This film benefits from a haunting musical score, which has obviously provided considerable inspiration to Phillip Glass's musical style. The cinematography and the wide-angle and panoramic shots have also been influential to Godfrey Reggio's Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi documentaries. It enjoys some of the most memorable scenes in cinema history, such as the chase scene on the faces of the presidents at Mount Rushmore, which is not short of metaphor or cheeky humour. British Hitchcock humour. There's plenty of it, and it is very well distributed and absolutely wicked. Just take a look at the way Roger O. Thornhill, or ROT in acronym form (a faceless and arrogant advertising executive) has to weave himself through a big mess, where his false identity sticks on him like a fatal disease. Or how about the last scene where the train rams its way into the tunnel just as Mr and Mrs Thornhill are about to make love... This is a great film in its entirety and provides one helluva ride. Truly remarkable!!

Rating: 5:
Possibly the most enjoyable and exciting film ever made : My favourite Htchcock film. The script sparkles, and is actually very funny indeed. Cary Grant gives possibly his finest performance, and is nicely balanced by a laconic James Mason and a coldly beautiful Eva Marie Saint. The suspense doesn't let up until the very end.

Rating: 4:
"How long do you think that he will stay alive?" : "North by Northwest" (1959) is an extremely entertaining film that will keep you at the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen next. Truth to be told, you will never know, because surprises abound in this Hitchcock movie with a plot based on a "wrong man scenario".

Do you want to know more? Well, the main character is Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant), an advertising executive that is mistaken for George Kaplan, a spy that supposedly works for the USA government. The problem is that he is wrongly identified by foreign spies working in America, who are extremely eager to kill him and not particularly predisposed to believe that he is, in fact, Roger O. Thornhill. That is the reason why Roger faces two choices: to run or to be killed. Needless to say, he embraces the first choice, running for his life whilst attempting to learn more about the real Mr. Kaplan. Roger will get unexpected help from a beautiful and mysterious woman, Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint). But is she with or against him?. And where on earth is George Kaplan?

The answers to those questions are likely to keep the spectator enthralled. Of course, the fact that "North by Northwest" has a great director, an outstanding cast, excellent musical score (Bernard Herrmann) and a fluid script (Ernest Lehman) doesn't hurt, either :) All in all, highly recommended!

Belen Alcat

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