Movie Club Week 4 - North By Northwest

Discussion in 'Introductions & Off Topic' started by LiamABC, Nov 13, 2016.

  1. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    A big thanks to everyone that are joining us through all of this. It’s going to be an enjoyable ride!

    So that people know we're not limiting ourselves to one period in cinema history, this week's film is the Alfred Hitchcock 1959 classic "North By Northwest".

    Remember any ideas for films to discuss are most welcome, and should be made on the Movie Club Introduction thread (the sticky one).

    Just a friendly reminder to everyone that, whilst fans are obviously welcome to passionately discuss and give their views on these episodes, please remember to keep things on a friendly footing and respect your fellow posters.
    Also, please do not post where or how to find the full movie online. And do not post asking others to PM it to you. You are however allowed to watch the movie in whatever manner you want.
  2. Mark M

    Mark M Thunderian Legend

    Great enjoyable film. Great performances from the leads and the story builds up to a wonderful ending very well in one of cinemas most iconic scenes.
    Having said that as good as this film is it would still not be my favourite Hitchcock movie. That's not against the movie, it just shows what a wonderful selection of movies Hitchcock made.
  3. LiamABC

    LiamABC Thunderian Legend

    A bit late with my thoughts on this, been one of those weeks. I haven't seen this film in over three years, and had wanted to watch it on the big wide screen TV I inherited from my late mother for a while, but never got round to it until I made the effort for this. And I'm glad I finally did.

    The intention behind this film was to make "the Hitchcock movie to end all Hitchcock movies" - and it is certainly spectacular. Even epic is hardly doing it justice. That said, there are a few other Hitchcock classics that are as good if not better, and we may cover some of those at some point. Still, this is a great film, no two ways about it.

    The only really dodgy part is at the beginning, when it's not entirely clear what prompts the villains to grab Thornhill (Cary Grant's character). Of course, having seen it a few times now, I understand that they are paging the non-existent George Kaplan and he just happens to get up to attract someone's attention at that exact same time, but it could have been made clearer, perhaps show them asking for George Kaplan to be paged. Other than that, it's great. I particularly like the way some things in the background suddenly take on significance - from the photographers taking snaps of other things and then getting a shot of Thornhill holding the dead body with the knife in his hand - an image that would convince anybody who didn't know he was innocent that he must be guilty - to the iconic sequence in the middle of the film where the crop duster plane is flying harmlessly round in the background, but then after a short while becomes the menace that it truly is and starts attacking Thornhill. The image of Cary Grant running from that plane is justifiably one of the most famous in cinema history. I liked how in the bonus features how they said Hitchcock had wanted for some time to make a really long scene where nothing really happens but still holds the audience's attention. He managed it here all right. Thornhill is waiting for the non-existent Kaplan, who keeps on not arriving. When he finally does speak to someone, that man mentions the plane, which peaks his interest and he soon realises he's been set up. The finale on Mount Rushmore is equally breathtaking, where they are fleeing for their lives down the presidents' faces.

    Cary Grant is outstanding as the outraged innocent who through no real fault of his own has been flung into a world of espionage and intrigue, and James Mason as the villain of the piece is just as convincing, he truly believes that Thornhill is Kaplan. Not forgetting Eva Marie Saint who is frighteningly alluring as the woman torn between her feelings and her job, who chooses to set Thornhill up to strengthen her own chances of bringing Van Damme (James Mason's character) down - and hates herself for it. Leo G. Carroll as the Professor (the "M" figure in this organisation) has just the right amount of gravitas, and of course Jessie Royce Landis as the comic relief mother character in the early scenes . . .

    And yes, it also shows how Hitchcock knew what he was doing as a director. It has been said that he never wasted film, how he would only shoot so much of a scene from any given camera angle because he had already mapped out the cuts in his head, leaving very little for the editor to do. A lesson that many of today's filmmakers would do well to remember. If you work all that out in advance, you'll have a lot less hassle afterwards.
  4. The Drifter

    The Drifter Berbill

    North by Northwest is a true masterpiece. A while back, I re-watched this after many years - obviously an iconic classic,with many memorable scenes, including the crop-duster sequence, the auction scene, and the final Mount Rushmore scenes. I was amused that the Cary Grant character cracked jokes throughout the film - even in the face of extreme danger.

    Fun fact: Cary Grant was 55 when NBN was released in 1959 (born in 1904), and Jessie Royce Landis - the actress who played his mother - was 63 (born in 1896) - only 7 years older than, she was obviously too young to actually be his mother. However, the casting of these two was perfect. And, knowing this fact still doesn't take away from my enjoyment of the film ;)

    Another fun fact: The amusing Steve Carrell/Tina Fey comedy Date Night (2010) seemed to pay an homage to NBN re: the mistaken identity scene in the restaurant, when Fey & Carrell are mistaken for two pseudo-criminals - causing them to get into some dangerous misadventures. This was almost certainly an homage to the scene in NBN when Cary Grant was mistaken for someone else in the hotel restaurant near the beginning of the film (and on which the entire rest of the film is based).
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2018
    LiamABC likes this.

Share This Page