North by Northwest

Alfred Hitchcock is a master of film-making. And every aspiring film-maker and even a film-lover, learns something, even if it’s very minute, yet something important, about film-making while watching a film by a master. The one thing, that you learn while watching the piece of brilliance, North by Northwest, is that however, cheesy or hilarious (for a serious thriller) or even tacky, to some extent, that the basic plot of the film may seem; once there’s some witty, intelligent dialogue coated around it and it has been topped with brilliant direction, it hardly matters.

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So the beginning of North by Northwest and essentially the pillar upon which the whole film has been set, is so ridiculously audacious and sheer chutzpah, it is simply based upon co-incidences and matters of chance, that had the film not been as good, it would be impossible to overlook. In fact, even one of the characters remarks

So horribly sad. how is it I feel like laughing?

This dialogue only cements the deep understanding of the story that Ernest Lehmann had of the story. The quick pacing and dramatic tension of the film is interspersed with lines that are beautifully witty. So simply put, Ernest Lehmann is a genius.

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This film is possibly most famous remembered, even by a lot of people who haven’t seen it, for two of its action sequences. One involving the plane, and the other with the original Mad Man ( Don Draper anyone?), Cary Grant, hanging from Mount Rushmore. Which isn’t surprising considering Hitchcock was among the most entertaining film-makers ever. His classical wit, the thrilling chase scenes, even the suspense (which he had an infamous reputation for ruining before the end of the movie) and brilliantly created action sequences. Of course, North by Northwest has it all.

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Cary Grant plays the leading man, Roger O. Thorhill, with the O standing for “nothing”, in what is perhaps the best performance of his career. It is the villains of the film, however who steal the show with their brilliance. James Mason playing the classic old rich bad guy, but the best actor in the film is Martin Landau who plays henchman to James Mason’s leading villain. Everything, from the way he delivers his dialogues to his expressions is perfect for a henchman.

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North by Northwest is a gem, a true classic by Alfred Hitchcock which must be experience and its wonderful, witty dialogue and those thrilling action sequences and that masterful score by Bernard Herrmann, must be enjoyed.


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