North by Northwest is Alfred Hitchcock’s action thriller masterpiece. This would be the fifth Hitchcock movie that I’ve seen (Rear Window, Vertigo, Psycho, and The Birds being the others). What they all have in common is the fact that they were all released near the end of his career. With each one inspiring many movies to come. North by Northwest specifically inspired the spy genre. In a lot of ways it can be viewed as a proto-James Bond film. There’s a charming lead in a well-tailored suit, scenic locations, a villian with henchmen, microfilm, and an attractive, if mysterious love interest.
North by Northwest stars the great Cary Grant as an unfortunate man with a bad case of mistaken identity. Roger Thornhill is mistaken for a spy named George Kaplan. He’s nearly driven off the road, framed for murder, and pursued across America. It’s then that he meets blonde beauty Eve Kendall played by Eva Marie Saint. She may or may not be on his side. As suspenseful as the chase is, it’s not without a sense of humor.
The two most iconic scenes involve a crop duster that attempts to gun down Thornhill and the climax which takes place atop Mount Rushmore (followed by a sneaky innuendo). It’s hard to say which scene is more impressive. Alfred Hitchcock knows how to put you on the edge of your seat. Although as groundbreaking as North by Northwest is, it’s not without perhaps the most well known movie mistake ever filmed. Where a boy in the background covers his ears before a gunshot goes off. North by Northwest is otherwise a nearly flawless “on the run” adventure.