“North by Northwest” Review ✦✦✦✦✦

24 October, 2017

Year of Release: 1959
Alfred Hitchcock
Ernest Lehman
Director of Photography: 
Robert Burks
Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason

Synopsis: A case of mistaken identity turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse for an unsuspecting advertising man after he’s tricked into impersonating a fictional operative who becomes the target of a foreign spy.

North by Northwest Review:

A sensational crime caper where every minute counts in the lead up to a nail-biting finale, “North by Northwest” is a quintessential trip to the movies brought to life by orchestral master Bernard Herrmann who composes one of the greatest scores of all time to match the distinctive mood of a Hitchcock escapade. A movie which miraculously manages to shake perpetual nuisance Jimmy Stewart from its billing, “North by Northwest” sees Hollywood superstar Cary Grant delight in performing “The Wrong Man” on a grander scale, allowing him to embody all but the man he’s accused of being in a tale of destructive arrogance and awfully bad luck.

Overflowing with incredible one-liners, “North by Northwest” finds endless reason to tickle its funny bone, spawning comedic poetry out of lines as ridiculous as – ‘What can a man do with his clothes off for twenty minutes?’ – as Hitchcock enjoys Cary Grant at his most whimsical and finds ways to showcase his natural flair for frivolity. The result of a wonderfully playful screenplay from Ernest Lehman, the movie is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, retaining some of cinema’s finest adventure sequences along with love scenes that feel oddly risqué for a 1950s spy thriller.

Fuelling an exquisite romance between conceited executive Roger Thornhill and foxy femme fatale Eve Kendall, “North by Northwest” places on-screen chemistry against a backdrop of rich audio-visual texture, creating an expository ballet which pushes characters through twists and turns at gripping speed. Always in the wrong place at the wrong time, Thornhill tries in vain to wipe blood from his hands but a number of hurdles stand in his way with potentially fatal consequences. Picture-perfect in freeze-frame and in motion, “North by Northwest” aces the set-up, the story, and a multitude of names and faces yet still finds time to perfect the decoys and décor, adding the unforgettable finishing touches involving bourbon, crop dusters, matches, and four dead presidents.


Review Date
North by Northwest