Madison Avenue advertising man Roger Thornhill finds himself thrust into the world of spies when he is mistaken for a man by the name of George Kaplan. Foreign spy Philip Vandamm and his henchman Leonard try to eliminate him but when Thornhill tries to make sense of the case, he is framed for murder. Now on the run from the police, he manages to board the 20th Century Limited bound for Chicago where he meets a beautiful blond, Eve Kendall, who helps him to evade the authorities. His world is turned upside down yet again when he learns that Eve isn't the innocent bystander he thought she was. Not all is as it seems however, leading to a dramatic rescue and escape at the top of Mt. Rushmore.Written by
In a Turner Classic Movies interview, according to screenwriter Ernest Lehman (who worked in close collaboration with Sir Alfred Hitchcock), the working title was "In A Northwesterly Direction". The head of the story department at MGM said "Why don't you call it 'North by Northwest'?" Lehman says that he and Hitchcock adopted that as the new working title, always assuming that they'd come up with something better. Hitchcock also jokingly wanted to call it "The Man in Lincoln's Nose", but claimed the idea was vetoed by the Park Commissioner. Other working titles included "Breathless", "In a North West Direction", and "The C.I.A. Story". So the creators thought the title was a meaningless placeholder. However, in fact Thornhill flew north from Chicago to South Dakota on Northwest Airlines, or "north by Northwest." See more »
The first exterior shot of the train depicts a pink sunset. Yet, it is broad daylight in the following dining-car scene. See more »
[coming out of the crowded elevator, dictating to his secretary]
If you accept the belief that a high Trendex automatically means a rising sales curve...
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The Leo the Lion/MGM trademark preceding the credits is on a green field, to match the green field used in the credits proper. See more »
The print originally had an acknowledgement for the cooperation of the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service. But they requested it be removed after MGM violated the agreement that no violence would take place near the Mt. Rushmore monument. Some prints, however, were released with the acknowledgement still in. See more »
I finally get how great it is: Hitch infuses his wrong-man caper with ironic movie language and reality-be-damned escapism and suspense.
Its Hitch's most briskly entertaining movie, and one of his most comic, adventure-caper type movies, largely thanks to the persona of Cary Grant. But its also one of his most suspenseful - in the fact that Grant is being recognised as someone else, and that he may be put in jail for someone else's crime.
I've finally come to realise just how great North by Northwest is. The reason you should love Hitchcock is he put entertainment upfront. Hitchcock was not interested in whether this or that would happen in real life: he was interested in what would make the most entertaining scene for the movie. North by Northwest is a peak in this regard. The dialogue and situations intentionally throw reality to the wind - the double-entendre dialogue in the love scenes is not supposed to be the way people talk!
If you said to Hitchcock "as if he'd keep driving" or "as if she'd do that" - he would just laugh at you and say you've missed the point. This is 100% movieland, and once you get used to the fact, and that this is not a fault in the film, but done intentionally, you'll love it. Its expressionistic - everything happens in movie language: the people laughing at Grant in the elevator, the way he keeps driving drunk near the beginning, the way he grabs the knife and everyone stares at him after someone's been stabbed.
It flirts with the idea of identity. I thought it was interesting how Grant first is dismissing, then incredulous that people should be calling him by another name; then, as the tries to find out who this guy is, he enters the hotel room of this new identity, then he puts the suit on, and finally he identifies himself as George Kaplan.
A succession of fantastic, memorable scenes, a great leading man in Grant, and one of Hermann's essential Hitch scores make for a movie i can put on at any time.
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