North by Northwest is my favorite movie of all time. Cary Grant is my favorite actor of all time and Alfred Hitchcock is probably my favorite director of all time. I have a couple versions of this movie on DVD, saw it on Turner Classic Movies a couple of nights ago and again on DVD last might. I decided to write a blog about it today because I’ve been thinking about it a lot. This movie is Cary Grant, perhaps the best comedic actor of all time, at his best.
North by Northwest has all the ingredients of a great Hitchcock movie. A great plot, great writing, great cast, Hitchcock’s sense of humor, that Cary Grant shares, and James Mason. The very sexy and beautiful Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront, The Russians are Coming) has a big role in the movie. According to my father, she’s smarter, sexier, and more beautiful than Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe. She reminds him of my mother.
Then, there’s Jessie Royce Landis who plays Roger Thornhill’s (Cary Grant) mother, a great smart ass, even though she’s only four years older.
The movie is a Cold War thriller about a man, Van Damme (James Mason), who exports American weapons and national security secrets. Thornhill gets caught up in it, accidentally, and you have a great movie.
Thornhill is a charming playboy New York advertising man who’s just living his life as a very successful businessman. He’s kidnapped by Van Damme’s henchmen at a New York bar. They believe he has inside information about Van Damme’s organization.
The Van Damme crew tries to murder Thornhill but he gets away. He tries to get back in touch with Van Damme and instead connects with Lester Townsend, someone Van Damme had pretended to be. The Van Damme crew, trying to murder Thornhill, instead murder Townsend. They believe he also knows something about their organization that they want kept secret. Thornhill is now not only on the run from Van Damme and company but also fron the NYC PD, the New York State PD, and the Feds.
Thornhill once again escapes and is now on the run from everyone because of the murder he didn’t commit. This time, he escapes by train where he meets Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) who just happens to be an undercover Federal agent pretending to work for Philipp Van Damme. She’s actually working to bring down Van Damme’s and his organization. She has Thornhill believing she’s on his side and helping him to escape. She’s actually just using him.
This movie starts in New York, moves to Chicago and then Indiana where the Van Damme crew tries to murder Thornhill and Thornhill is trying to meet the real George Kaplan to find out what this whole thing is about. The problem is that George Kaplan doesn’t exist. Back to Chicago Thornhill gets arrested again, thinking that he would be safer with the police than on the run. The Feds grab him instead and use him to help bering down Van Damme and company in Rapid City where Philipp Van Damme has a home.
This is one of the best action suspense comedies you’ll ever see.