After over 40 years, this action packed thriller still keeps audiences on the edge of their seats. North By Northwest is the best expression of one of Hitchcock’s favorite themes: the wrong man. The wrong man theme puts an everyman into an impossible situation. Cary Grant plays Roger O. Thornhill, an ad executive from New York who is mistaken for secret agent George Kaplan. Thornhill gets kidnapped by Phillip Vandamm (James Mason), who tries to kill him. Through the many twist and turns that the movie takes Cary Grant, as usual, is very debonair, sophisticated and believable in his approach to this character. I believe that North By Northwest is Grant’s most celebrated performance. This role lets him play many different character types: hero, clown, victim, drunkard, and – the part that he always plays best – the romantic lead. Grant is in almost every scene and he owns the screen, whether he is being seduced by Eve Kendall or chased by Phillip Vandamm or the CIA.
Eva Marie Saint as Eve Kendall is also very believable in her part. She is sexy, mysterious and dangerous. She keeps us guessing in each different scene, who her character really is. James Mason is also brilliant in his role as the villain. Mason also has a very sophisticated, charming air about him that even competes with Grant. Jessie Royce Landis is very funny as Cary Grant’s mother. Truly, Grant is the star of this show, but everyone in the show shines in their parts.
The crop dusting scene is my personal favorite in the film. Our hero in the show, Roger Thornhill finds himself attacked by a machine-gun-equipped crop dusting plane. It is one of the most remarkable scenes in film history. It has left me on the edge of my seat and holding my breath every time I watch the film. Although, all the scenes are impeccably done: the Mt. Rushmore visitor center scene, the drunk driving scene, the auction and the UN segment.
Hitchcock’s vision, Grant’s charm, and the rest of the casts’ truly brilliant performances makes this one film that you need to see. Join us on Monday, November 12th at 6:30 pm. See you at the PIX!
Board Of Directors
Vertigo is a 1958 American crime film. It is a romantic story of obsession, manipulation, fear, suspense and mystery all wrapped around twisted human psychology. The versatility and genre befuddled audiences of 1958. “Dolly zoom,” zooming a zoom lens to adjust the angle of the view toward or away from the subject created a continuous perspective of distortion. It was a technique used to increase the drama in a scene.
Hitchcock actually pulled Vertigo out of circulation in 1973. It wasn’t until 1980 that audiences saw it again and grew to appreciate it more. A digital restoration of the film in 1996 further returned it to its original glory.
The film was shot on location in San Francisco, California and Paramount Studios in Hollywood. Scottie’s apartment is one block downhill from the “crookedest street in the world”. The Mission San Juan Bastista is a real place. Madelaine jumps into the sea at Fort Point, underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. The views of San Francisco and surrounding area are beautiful. The step back in time with the classic automobiles of the 1950’s is dramatic.
In 1989 Vertigo was recognized as a “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant” film by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in the first year of the registry voting. As of 2016, on Rotten Tomatoes the film has a “certified fresh” rating of 97%.
What better place to watch this film, considered to be one of Hitchcock’s best, if not THE best, than the big screen at the Waukesha Civic Theatre?
Take a look for yourself and decide whether or not Vertigo is the greatest Hitchcock film of all time. Don’t leave yourself hanging in suspense (like poor Scottie).
Also, don’t forget, Hitchcock appears somewhere in all of his films. Will you spot him?