North By Northwest (1959)

Alfred Hitchock’s 1959 thriller, North by Northwest is a movie about an advertising executive who gets caught up in the world of spies. A case of mistaken identity early in the movie sets Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) and the audience up for a thrilling journey across America.

In this curation (and in the podcast), we examine things beyond just the scope of the movie, and its interrelationship with other movies and events:

                • A crafty, yet charming villain, much like Franz Sanchez in Licence to Kill
                • Suspense on a train
                • How the henchmen put Thornhill in the car which foretells a scene in James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
                • An unknown criminal organization – Can you say Spectre or Quantum?
                • Stars from the television shows “Get Smart” and Man From U.N.C.L.E. are the good guys in this movie year’s before their tv spy-dom
                • A joke that is told is based on an old vaudeville routine and first showed up on film in the 1945 movie Ziegfeld Follies
                • Airplanes trying to run the hero down, a la James Bond in From Russia With Love
                • And many others

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Director:
Composer:
Actors:
Primary Location:
  • Old Westbury Gardens - Old Westbury, Long Island, New York (USA)
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial - Keystone, South Dakota (USA)

Curated Videos:

  • A Case of Mistaken Identity

    Roger Thornhill gets mistaken for someone named George Kaplan.  This simple mistake will cause Roger many problems.   Notice how he is put in the back seat of the car between two henchmen.   We’ve seen in another movie – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  Listen to our podcast on North by Northwest where we […]

  • Mr. Townsend’s Death

    In this scene, Roger learns that Mr. Townsend is not the man he thinks he is. Roger (Cary Grant) finally meets the real Mr. Townsend and realizes he’s been duped. In this clip, we see the meeting at the United Nations building and what happens to Mr. Townsend.  Pay attention to the camera angles – […]

  • Now this is a train scene

    Most Erotic Conversation!  Of all the train scenes we’ve seen in spy movies, this clip shows one of the most erotic conversations ever.  It puts any conversation between James Bond and a Bond Girl to shame.  And this is in 1959!

    The quips between Eve and Roger are amazing.  They even had to dub out a […]

  • It’s a crop duster – look out!

    One of the Most Famous Scenes in ANY Movie: Check out this scene that foretells something similar in From Russia With Love.  It’s a crop duster, Roger – DUCK or you’ll lose your head.  Fabulous photography and directing here.  You can feel the tension and fear.  As Hitchcock once said, “I just want to scare […]

  • Getting Out Of A Bad Situation

    We’ve seen auction scenes in spy movies since North by Northwest (think Octopussy), but we can’t think of one before this movie.  In this scene, Roger must use his wits and create a diversion to get out of a bad situation at an auction.

    The way he does this is both funny and brilliant.  We want-to-be […]

  • The Precursor To Bond’s Appeal To Women?

    This scene is short but impactfully funny.  Roger is trying to escape and ends up cutting through this woman’s room.  At first, she’s aghast.  Then she sees Roger and changes her tune. She only utters the same word twice.  Both times have very different meanings.   Roger’s reaction is wonderful.

    This movie came out four years […]

  • When the girl shoots the hero

    Will Eve Shoot Roger?  This scene in North By Northwest was shot on location at the Mount Rushmore restaurant.   Another fabulous scene, where Hitchcock builds up suspense for a big finish to this scene.   Little things, like Leonard (Landau) straightening his tie as he walks over to Eve and Philip Vandamm  Also,  pay close attention […]

  • Mount Rushmore

    A great spy movie needs great scenery.  Check out this clip of Roger & Eve as they try to escape Leonard (Martin Landau) on Mount Rushmore.  Again, great tension, great anticipation, great photography – the hallmarks of a Hitchcock film, and this spy film!  We will see lots of Bond films with great fight scenes […]

  • All’s well that ends well

    The movie ends with Roger and Eve on Mount Rushmore.  He’s just proposed but Leonard is still pursuing them.   More tension, and then a great Hitchcock cut takes us to the final scene.   Train through the tunnel . . . concludes the film that Hitchcock mastered as a very sensuous movie in 1959!  We will […]