Monday, May 28, 2012

North by Northwest

North by Northwest (Two-Disc 50th Anniversary Edition)

#40 (1998) and #55 (2007) on the AFI Top 100 Films

North by Northwest is a 1959 American thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason. The screenplay was written by Ernest Lehman, who wanted to write "the Hitchcock picture to end all Hitchcock pictures".

North by Northwest is a tale of mistaken identity, with an innocent man pursued across the United States by agents of a mysterious organization who want to stop his interference in their plans to smuggle out microfilm containing government secrets.

Author and journalist Nick Clooney praised Lehman's original story and sophisticated dialogue, calling the film "certainly Alfred Hitchcock's most stylish thriller, if not his best".

This is one of several Hitchcock movies with a music score by Bernard Herrmann and features a memorable opening title sequence by graphic designer Saul Bass. This film is generally cited as the first to feature extended use of kinetic typography in its opening credits.

* Cary Grant as Roger Thornhill
* Eva Marie Saint as Eve Kendall
* James Mason as Phillip Vandamm
* Leo G. Carroll as The Professor
* Jessie Royce Landis as Thornhill's mother Clara
* Martin Landau as Leonard
* Philip Ober as Lester Townsend
* Josephine Hutchinson as Mrs. Townsend
* Adam Williams as Valerian
* Patrick McVey as Sergeant Flamm
* Edward Platt as Victor Larrabee

Hitchcock's cameo appearances are a signature occurrence in most of his films. In North by Northwest he can be seen missing a bus at the end of the opening credits.

Landis, who played Thornhill's mother, was in reality the same age as Cary Grant. She also played his future mother-in-law in To Catch a Thief.

James Stewart was the original choice to play Thornhill, but as Hitchcock and Lehman developed the script, Hitchcock decided that Thornhill was more a Cary Grant type. Hitchcock was planning to reunite with Stewart during his next (ultimately unproduced) film, The Blind Man.

MGM wanted Cyd Charisse for the role played by Eva Marie Saint. Hitchcock stood by his choice

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