North by Northwest (1959) Dir. Alfred Hitchcock – Strand Arts Centre 19th Oct
Who’s in it? Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason
What’s it about? Intended by screenwriter Ernest Lehman as the ‘Hitchcock picture to end all Hitchcock pictures’ and arguably succeeding, with one of his most accessible and crowd pleasing works, North by Northwest is the Psycho director at his thrilling and enthralling best. With stand out performances from its two leads, the film is steeped in period sass and old school Hollywood production values, not to mention a delightfully villainous turn from James Mason. In a classic case of mistaken identity, Ad man Roger Thornhill (Grant) is taken for a wanted man, the mysterious George Kaplan, and subsequently framed for the murder of the only person who can clear his name. On the run from the police and from an unknown organisation who believe he’s smuggling a microfilm of government secrets, Thornhill must evade capture for long enough to figure out who to trust. Bookended by graphic designer Saul Bass’ memorable credit sequence and one of cinema’s most iconic finales, this is one Hitch number that is best on the big screen.
Memorbale Moments? From the birds eye view of Thornhill fleeing a murder at the United Nations building, as Bernard Herrmann’s score amps up the suspense; to the scene in which Grant and Saint are virtually scalped by a pursuing by-plane cross-country; and of course the iconic climax atop Mount Rushmore, the film sees Hitch at his most cinematic.
Look Who’s Talking: ‘Gripping, suspenseful, and visually iconic, this late-period Hitchcock classic laid the groundwork for countless action thrillers to follow.’ – Rotten Tomatoes
Like that? Try this: The 39 Steps (1935) is Hitchcock’s version of the John Buchan spy novel, with Roger Donat as Richard Hannay, and is the Master of suspense honing his technique.
Trvia Pursuit: While filming Grant apparently charged fans 15 cents for an autograph.