Old Classics…? Newly Reviewed | “North by Northwest” (1959)

© Nancee E. Lewis / Nancee Lewis Photography.
Editor Note: Gini has another Old Classic film from her Turner Classic Movie Collection watching. Since Atlanta is home to Turner Classic Movies it is only right that Gini should be reviewing them with her view of the world.

What can it be this time?

Gini is tackling a renowned film noir out of the Turner Classic Movies vault with 1959’s North by Northwest.


North by Northwest

By Gini Koch

North by Northwest stars Cary Grant as Roger Thornhill, an advertising executive who gets mistaken for a spy and then has to figure out how to survive, and whether or not he’s fallen in love with a femme fatale or a good girl in disguise by way of Eva Marie Saint’s Eve Kendall.

Are there bad Hitchcock films? Possibly, but so far, I haven’t watched one. This film has it all – charismatic leading man, mysterious blonde, action, intrigue, tension, suspense, and that climb on Mt. Rushmore. Plus James Mason as head baddie Phillip Vandamm, oozing classy menace and evil intent.

Thornhill is mistaken for George Caplan and from that moment on, his life changes. He’s pursued by Vandamm and his even more evil right hand henchman Leonard (Martin Landau), gets framed for a murder he didn’t commit, is attacked by a crop duster in a scene that’s been given the homage treatment so many times that there’s probably no one who hasn’t seen some form of it, meets Eve who might be an innocent bystander and might be a hell of a lot more, and somehow manages to figure out what’s going on, despite everyone trying to kill him or stop him.
Grant is, as always, smooth charm. Saint is your classic femme fatale with a twist. And the rest of the cast do their jobs admirably. The costuming and locations are spot on, the script is whip smart and crackles with wit and intrigue, and the score is perfect. And, naturally, the direction is perfect.

I could go on lauding this movie with praise because, like Strangers on a Train before it, North by Northwest is what all film noir aspires to be. But, honestly, if you haven’t seen it yet, please explain to the nice spies following you why not. And then immediately rectify your mistake. TCM plays this regularly, but it’s a movie good enough to own, because re-watching it will never get old.

5 stars out of 5

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