North by Northwest

northbynorthwestNorth By Northwest is a pure slice of of Americana, an absolute classic Hitchcock movie. For those who have yet to see this film, Roger Thornhill,  a advertising executive is mistaken for a government agent and wrongfully accused of murder. Believing it is the only way to clear his name, Roger goes on a quest to find the man he is mistaken for. In a nut shell, that is the plot line. There are many scenes that make this film a classic. The art auction is perfectly played out by Cary Grant, trying to get thrown out of the auction by bidding $5. Of course the climax of the movie all taking place on top of Mount Rushmore is well known, but one of the most recognizable and memorable scenes in cinematic history is the biplane chase scene in the field.

Thornhill is played by American icon, Cary Grant (To Catch a Thief). There is a lot of humor in Grants dialog, just listen for it. His one liners and comments on situations come across almost like Grouch Marx. “Patience is a virtue” Eve says, followed by a quick witted Thornhill reply “So is breathing.” Eve is elegantly played by Eva Marie Saint (Best Supporting Actress for On the Waterfront), and is able to stand tow to toe with an icon like Cary Grant and be perfectly believable as a love interest.

As for the villains, VanDamm is played by James Mason (Heaven Can Wait, The Verdict), who brings a little class to the  entire idea of being a villain, similar to a James Bond villain with a taste for fine wine and love for art. Yet still being rugged and ruthless enough to develop a certain amount of fear that he has the power to have someone filled, and not think twice about doing it. Also, look for Martin Landau (Best Supporting Actor Ed Wood) as Leonard, VanDamm’s main henchmen!

If you have never taken the time to see older films, this is one that you should seek out and see at least once in a lifetime. You will be glad you did. Also, if you are fan of bluray discs, I hear this will be released on bluray as a 50th Anniversary Edition on November 3 later this year. I highly recommend this film, it’s a must see!

The Verdict

The Verdict

If you enjoy Paul Newman (and who doesn’t enjoy Paul Newman) you need to see this movie. He probably could have won Best Actor but lost out to Ben Kingsly for Gandhi. Newman plays an alcoholic lawyer who drums up his business by going to funeral homes and passing out business cards, claiming to know the deceased. That is until he is handed a sure thing, a case that is supposed to settle out of court with a nice payday. Having a growing conscious after seeing the victim, he views the money as nothing more than being bought off and decides to fight the case.

As always, not to give too much away, this isn’t the absolute best courtroom drama I have ever seen, but Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) does get great performances from Mr. Newman, James Mason, and Charlotte Rampling (Swimming Pool). There are no huge plot twists or legal loopholes that act as a payoff here, just tracking down missing witnesses and courtroom testimony. Still, this is a film worth seeing, being Nominated for 5 total Oscars including Best Actor and Best Picture.