1 Woman, 100 Movies - #99: North by Northwest
I’m continuing my cinematic mission to watch the 100 greatest movies of all time. You can read more about my crazy idea here. #99 – North by Northwest Year released: 1959 Genre: Suspense, Drama, Adventure IMDb rating: 8.3 Summary: A New York City advertising executive goes on the run after being mistaken for a government agent by a group of foreign spies. Previously seen?: No
First thoughts: I have not heard of this movie, but I love the Suspense/Drama genre and am excited to get some Alfred Hitchcock content (he directed this movie). This movie is also over 2 hours long (just like Yankee Doodle Dandy) but fingers crossed that this one will have more excitement and less black face. Also, I haven’t Googled this yet, but is this where the inspiration for the music festival South by Southwest came from? Quick Summary Roger Thornhill is living his life as a marketing executive (with an amazing suit, btw) when he is kidnapped at gunpoint by creepy strangers for unknown reasons. Things only get weirder as these strangers insist that his name is George Kaplan. When Roger tries to clear things up, the kidnappers get him drunk with bourbon and attempt to drive him off a cliff. He survives, and the more he tries to figure out what exactly is going on, the more mysterious things get. He meets the beautiful Eva Kendall, she helps him escape, and then betrays him. Her betrayal ends with him being chased down by a fighter jet/crop duster and ruining his epic suit. Turns out that Eva works for the good guys and is only pretending to love Phillip Vandamm (the bad guy). One thing leads to another and Roger and Eva end up dangling off Mount Rushmore with little hope for escape. Will they survive?! (This is a horrible summary, but the movie is a bit all over the place, so give me a break.)
Final thoughts: This is a vast improvement over Yankee Doodle Dandy, and a genre that is much more my speed. I appreciated the twists and turns of the plot, but at 2 hours and 15 minutes, this movie was just so long! While doing my post-movie research I discovered that MGM wanted Hitchcock to cut the movie, but he refused. That being said, it’s easy to see why this movie was a hit. You have spies, attempted murder, murder, romance, handsome villains, and a crop-dusting plane shooting at the hero of the movie before crashing into an oil tanker. In 1959? That's action packed! And it’s clear that this movie inspired others after it. Throughout the movie, Roger Thornhill has no idea what is going on, but somehow continues to escape (mostly) unscathed, and picks up a beautiful undercover spy in distress in the process. Sound familiar? Jason Bourne has entered the chat.
Things I loved: - Hitchcock allowed for long stretches of silence, where characters assessed each other, looked cool in their suits, and drank fancy cocktails. - How confusing the plot was. One minute Roger is in court fighting a ticket, and the next he’s at the UN holding a man that’s been stabbed in the back. It’s so crazy it works. - Eva Marie Saint as Roger’s love interest Eva Kendall played her damsel in distress role perfectly. - The special effects were dope. The crop duster, the car teetering on the edge of the cliff – when I remembered when the movie was filmed, I was impressed!
Things I didn’t love: - Cary Grant looks WAY older than I think his character is supposed to be, and it’s most noticeable when his mother (played by Jessie Royce Landis) is on screen. She looks like she should be his wife, not his mother. Turns out, she’s only seven years his senior, so that checks out. Eve Marie Saint was close to 20 years his junior. - The ending. It was too abrupt, and the tension that had built for two hours, ended with a blink of an eye. Overall, I was happy with the movie. I wouldn’t watch it again, but it was fun. Fun fact: South by Southwest DID name their festival after this movie. Up next: Rebel Without a Cause