The Front Row View: North By Northwest

The Front Row View is a regular column by Great Stories contributor Jim Cannizzaro.  He is a veteran community theater leading man, seasoned blogger, movie enthusiast, and family man. 


North by Northwest is Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 thriller about New York adman Cary Grant being mistaken for a spy. He’s being chased by a shadowy organization intent on smuggling government secrets out of the country. This could be considered the Portable Hitchcock. All of his themes are here—-the innocent man in flight, the icy blonde who could be treacherous or not, the suave villains, globe-hopping, black humor and the action sequences set in strange locations or well-known places. Cary Grant is at his peak here, whether he’s seducing Eva Marie Saint (and being seduced by her) or being pursued by a crop dusting plane sent to kill him. James Mason is a top-drawer villain, although he seems underused (maybe because he’s awesome James Mason) and Martin Landau, in his first movie role, makes a memorable henchman (with his character’s homosexuality pushed as far as was permissible in 1959). Watch for Hitchcock’s appearance missing a bus under his directorial credit in the opening titles. And the great Bernard Herrmann’s score is one of his best. He and Hitchcock’s next collaboration would be for a little black and white thriller called Psycho. North by Northwest would be a movie that I’d want with me if I were stranded on a desert island—if the desert island had electricity to power a DVD player.


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