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North by Northwest (1959)

Director:
Alfred Hitchcock
COUNTRY
USA
GENRE
Drama/Mystery/Thriller
NORWEGIAN TITLE
Med hjertet i halsen
RUNNING TIME
136 minutes
Producer:
Alfred Hitchcock
Screenwriter:
Ernest Lehman


Cast includes:

CHARACTER ACTOR/ACTRESS RATING
Roger Thornhill Cary Grant
Eve Kendall Eva Marie Saint
Phillip Vandamm James Mason
Clara Thornhill Jessie Royce Landis
Professor Leo G. Carroll
Leonard Martin Landau

 

Review

One of Hitchcock's most cram-packed films, North By Northwest is in many ways Hitch at his most ambitious, but at the same time one of few films where he allows himself to loosen up completely and let what's fun come before maintaining his artistic integrity. North by Northwest doesn't mind being meticulously plotted, shamelessly packed with edge-of-your-seat action or having a basically fearless protagonist who acts more at the audience than at the drama that unfolds in front of him. With Cary Grant, in his usual seductive shape, chased around the most audacious of settings, North by Northwest is at once both Hitchcock at his most kitsch and at his most elegant.

The film looks fabulous with its abundances of now iconic locations, sets, and set-pieces. And with remarkably glossy, almost unreal Technicolor cinematography by Robert Burks and its chic costumes by the uncredited Harry Kress, North by Northwest is a fashion statement still to this day. It is perhaps also the most back-to-back suspenseful entry in Hitchcock's catalogue, as we're taken from one memorable, quintessential scene to another. Grant and Saint never become the hottest couple on-screen, but they clearly share the same idea of fun and conjure up a charismatic interplay. In other roles, James Mason gives a suitably aristocratic performance, whereas the most interesting character belongs to Martin Landau whose layered Leonard improves with each view. 

In addition to classic scenes like the train sequence, the crop-dusting, and Grant's wonderful display at an Chicago auction, North by Northwest is above all a testament to a director who was actually able to make film that met both the demands of the critics and the public. This is pure entertainment of sheer class. And Bernard Herrmann's dazzling score is the icing on the cake.

Copyright 20.9.2006 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang

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