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Sunday, September 23, 2007

North by Northwest: A gripping thriller

(This review will contain the story of the film, so if you feel that your surprise of the movie is being spoiled, feel free to stop reading at any point of time)
North by Northeast, released in 1959, is a gripping thriller, one of the most famous and successful of Alfred Hitchcock's music. It was the 4th collaboration of Cary Grant with Alfred Hitchcock (previous ones being Suspicion (1941), Notorious (1946), and To Catch a Thief (1955)). The movie also stars Oscar Winner Eva Marie Saint as a blonde woman who is apparently one of the villains and instead is one of the helpful ones, a true love life partner for the hero.
The movie has some great elements, with the notion of a go-getter advertising man wrongly suspected of being a spy and being chased throughout the movie (to his utter bewilderment in the beginning and shocked acceptance as the movies moves on). There are 2 scenes in the movie which are acknowledged as true masterpieces, with the scene of the hero being harassed by a crop-duster in a wide open field being a much popular one, and the other being the scene on Mount Rushmore.

North by Northwest

The movie was distributed by Metro Goldwyn Mayer and at a budget of $ 4 million. It was nominated for 3 Oscars (Film Editing (George Tomasini), Art Direction, and Original Screenplay (Ernest Lehman)); even though the film did not win any awards, it has been acknowledged to be amongst Hitchcock's best works and among the top 100 movies of all time.
The movie stars Cary Grant as a go-getter Madison Avenue advertising man, and one who in a coincidence, gets marked to be a non-existent CIA agent and who is then pursued by agents of a mysterious organization who believe that he is interfering in their plans to smuggle out a microfilm from the United States and want to find out what exactly what he knows.
George Kaplan is a man created (a false identity) by a US intelligence agency and with a story that he is going to stop the work of the mysterious foreign organization. One day, Roget Townhill, who is accustomed to creating all sorts of stories to sell products, gets up in a restaurant at the same time when the name of George Kaplan is taken and from that time, he is a caught up in a game of chase that he is not prepared for. However, he really does not have a choice: He is first caught and interrogated by the agents, and forced to have a large quantity of bourbon forced down his throat.
He manages to escape after a police chase, and when caught by the police, is seemingly drunk; imagine telling the police and judge that you are drunk because you were being chased by foreign agents who forced you to drink liquor, and imagine how easily you will be believed. This happens in the house of a diplomat, and when Townhill goes to confront him, he is escaped to find a different man. At this point, he is he well and truly in trouble, when a knife hits the diplomat and in a move from so many movies, Townhill removes the knife and it now seems that he is the killer.
He escapes and gets onto a train to Chicago, and finding that a train is a good way to get away from the police, and he meets the blonde Eva Kendall. She saves him from the police, and they have a real interesting loaded conversation.
After getting off the train, he reaches a pre-arranged stop, but which is actually a trap. In a wide open place, he is attacked by the crop-dusting plane firing bullets at him. Eventually, after a series of adventures, he meets a Professor from the intelligence agencies who tells him about the true nature of George Kaplan, a fictional identity to save Eva. (The motif of the Professor is styled on the head of the actual intelligence agency).
Eventually, Townhill, chasing Eva to save her, is chased by the opposite agents across the face of Mount Rushmore; and in a final confrontation, they are saved by a police marksman who shoots the villain dead.

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North by NorthWest

Alfred Hitchcock Collection

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