The Movie Critique
North By Northwest

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
North By Northwest
Taxi Driver
Wild Things
Kindergarten Cop
The Godfather
The Shining
Gone with the wind
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Maltese Falcon

Mister Poopers Masterpiece Theatre
New York City, United States

Date: 14 November 2001
Summary: Hitchcock keeps popping out the classics...

When you thought that he's all out of ideas and last minute rescues, Hitchcock comes back with more eye candy and great action. North by Northwest is sometimes called Hitchcock's last great film. Carey Grant and Eva Marie Saint have very good chemistry and the inclusion of not one, not two, not three, but severa plot twists makes this film one of Hitchcock's best.

One thing not focused on in this film is the use of camera angles. When Roger is taken to make the telegram, the camera slides from a foreground view of Roger's lunch buddies, to the two standing men in a background view. Also, when Roger awaits George Kaplan in the field, there is a great establishing shot of Roger where there is total silence and calm until the eerie plane is spotted. One last camera technique that Hitchcock perfected was when, in the final moments of the Mount Rushmore chase, Roger Thornhill and Eve Kendall were saved by the sniper. The body of the person shot was shown and then a tilt up to the sniper showed the detectives. Little snipets like these were just a few things Hitchcock did well.

Overall, this movie was one of the best I've seen ever. For a 1950s movie, it is ahead of it's time and paved the way for future films to imitate many of the innovations that the flick brought to the screen. Go out and see this movie!


Shenandoah Valley Virgina

Date: 5 November 2001
Summary: Great funny lines but no plot.

I'm old enough to admit I saw this movie during its first run. I was a teenager, and I was fasinated by Eva Marie Saint, wanted to grow up and be like Roger Thornhill, a reluctant hero. Of course I grew up, and everytime I see this movie, I see more that I didn't see or hear the first time. Hitcock is a genius because he took a cartoon's script and made a great film. Consider these plot fantasies. Two goons mistakenly kidnap the wrong person at a posh hotel. How did the cold war last so long with such incompetents. Wouldn't real life spies wait until a less public place? What was the rational for the Glen Cove mansion? The real owner doesn't know who's using his house. What about neighbors? What if he decided to go home? Throwing knives may be a good circus act, but hardly the weapon of choice for a modern assassin. Nor would a corn field be the place and a crop duster the weapon. I've been to Mt. Rushmore, there is no place for a landing strip, let alone any private property. Its a National Monument for pete's sake. Oh yeah, when Eva and Gary are being chased by the bad guys as they crawl over the monument, why didn't they pitch the gizmo with the microfilm over the monument. The bad guys never would have found it. On the other hand, I think the auction scene was pure genius. Lehman can write funny one liners and lines that drip with hidden sexuality.


rochester, ny

Date: 1 November 2001
Summary: thornhill roger thornhill

One of Alfred Hitchcock's most enduring masterpieces, North by Northwest is a suspense in which Hitchcock tackles many issues plaguing America during the cold war. Among these are espionage, the `red scare', and the lack of an `American' identity. The manner in which Hitchcock juxtaposes Cary Grant's unfortunate encounters with violence with humor is an effective means to bring these issues to the table. In what may be called the paradigmatic film behind the James Bond genre, Hitchcock takes Grant on an archetypal journey of self-discovery across America as he attempts to find his true identity-and of course, Mr. Kaplan.


Renee Williams (Reneewill5)

Date: 30 October 2001
Summary: A representation of American ideals

Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest is an adventure-thriller guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat, as well as a film with great ties to American society during the late 50's. As the cold war was in full swing in 1959, threats of world war or even a nuclear war were looming; American's were unsettled, and fear was omnipresent. Roger Thornhill of North by Northwest gave American people a sense of hope in this tense cold war era. He portrays the average man, perhaps even somewhat immature initially, who turns himself into an all-around `good American,' working to fight the spread of communism. Thornhill, along with the ideas embodied in North by Northwest, represents many American ideals at that period in time.


Vancouver, BC, Canada

Date: 27 October 2001
Summary: A good action thriller

I gave North by Northwest an 8 out of 10. This is a really entertaining movie by Alfred Hitchcock. It keeps the viewer glued to the screen since you don't want to miss any key moments.

As always with Hitchcock movies, the casting is excellent. Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, and James Mason are all great to watch.

I've read that the Mount Rushmore scene was an actual movie set since Hitchcock was not able to use the real thing. That was a very impressive set they made, it's too bad that the set designers did not win the academy award for set decoration. They were nominated though.

From the user comments on this website, it does seem that North by Northwest is a fan favourite. I suppose that's because this Hitchcock film is a bit lighter and comedic compared to the others. I really did like this movie, but if I had a choice to watch a Hitchcock movie again, I'd probably pick Vertigo or Rear Window instead of this one.



Date: 25 October 2001
Summary: The Best of Cary Grant

If there was anyone that could get the best out of Grant, it was Hitchcock. When Grant was renowned for his romantic-comedies in the 30's and 40's, Hitchcock took him to another level in 'Suspicion' by presenting him as a serious actor which no other director could do successfully up until this moment. 'North by Northwest' was Grant's last alliance with Hitchcock, but was also the climax of their working relationship. There was nothing more that Hitchcock could squeeze out of Grant beyond 'North by Northwest', and because of this film, Grant transcended time where he was a popular romantic-comedy actor to being a screen legend of all time. Hitchcock was at the peak of his career by the time he did 'North by Northwest'. He had already won an academy award for 'Rear Window', enlisted the talents of academy award winning cinematographer, Robert Burks, as well as the genius composer, Bernard Herrmann who took Hitchcock films to another level. In 'Suspicion', Hitchcock had Frank Waxman, but did not have the cinematography of Robert Burks. In 'To Catch a Thief', he had the cinematography of Robert Burks, but not the score of Bernard Herrmann. In 'North by Northwest', Grant had everything that Hitchcock had to offer, and cemented himself in Hollywood in this classic of 1959. Without the score of Herrmann, 'North by Northwest' would have just been a 50's Grant romantic-comedy with a hint of thriller because there were shades and echoes of his 40's romantic-comedy personality coming through. It was probably the score of Herrmann that saved the film which is probably it didn't receive any academy awards. The crop dusting in the film stands out not because of Grant, and not even because of Hitchcock. There is no score in this scene which means that it cannot be attributed to Herrmann. It is the pure genius of Robert Burks cinematography that captures both the best of Grant and the best of Hitchcock in one frame. Robert Burk's cinematogrpahy took Hitchcock's films to another level.


Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Date: 20 October 2001
Summary: Superb Hitchcock Thriller!

"North By Northwest" is another of Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers where an ordinary man is put into an extraordinary situation. As in most of these movies, the hero has to quickly adapt to his situation or perish.

This time it is Cary Grant who is thrust into a world of international intrigue when is mistaken by villain James Mason for an American operative named George Kaplan (the film's "McGuffan" by the way). Along the way he is seduced by Mason's mistress (Eva Marie Saint) while being pursued by Mason and his cronies from New York to Chicago to South Dakota and ultimately to Mount Rushmore for the film's climax.

"North By Northwest" is full of classic Hitchcock moments. First,there is Grant's frustration and fear as he tries to explain to Mason that he is not the person they are seeking. Next, the scene in the cornfield where Grant is isolated and attacked by a plane is pure Hitchcock. Then we have the art auction where he cleverly escapes Mason's henchmen and finally, the finale at Mount Rushmore in a scene reminiscent of a similar one in "Sabotage" (1942) (which took place at the top of the Statue of Liberty).

The cast, as in most Hitchcock films is excellent. Grant is understandably confused and frightened as the the hero, Eva Marie Saint has never been sexier as the femme fatale, James Mason is suave and sinister as the villain and Martin Landau in an early role, is good as Mason's chief henchman. Hitchcock regular Leo G. Carroll is cold heartedly sinister as the "professor". Jesse Royce Landis as Grant's mother (she was about Grant's real age) is wasted and unnecessary to the plot.

The only problem that I have with this and other Hitchcock films is his over reliance on back projection and soundstage "exteriors". Other than that. "North By Northwest" has to be considered as one of Hitchcock's best. Watch for Hitchcock's hilarious cameo appearance at the end of the opening credits.



Date: 1 October 2001
Summary: One of the most entertaining films ever made!!!

Not a dead second in this film.

Cary Grant chased cross country by both spies (who think he's a double agent) and the police (who think he's an assassin).

Cary Grant must have inspired many actors as Roger O. Thornhill who delivers one funny line after another. The film includes one of the best scenes in film history.

Not my favorite Hitchcock film(I think that Vertigo is better)but on of the most entertaining films ever made and it could be one of the best American films ever made.



Snow Leopard
Hilliard, Ohio

Date: 21 September 2001
Summary: Terrific Entertainment From the Master

With everything you expect from Hitchcock and more, "North By Northwest" is terrific entertainment from the master. There are interesting characters, an exciting story with intrigue and suspense, lots of fine photography, and some of Hitchcock's best-known set pieces. It's capped off by a fine Bernard Herrmann score that is almost as good as the one he wrote later for "Psycho".

Cary Grant may be the ideal Hitchcock actor, and he is a big part of making this such great fun. As one of the man-on-the-run characters that Hitchcock loved to make movies about, Grant is entertaining and believable, maintaining good humor even as he tries to work his way out of a series of desperate situations. The other stars, James Mason and Eva Marie Saint, also are very good, and the supporting roles are all filled by good character actors.

The story is one of Hitchcock's most exciting. It's slightly longer than usual, and it occasionally stretches credibility, but it all goes by quickly because there is always something interesting going on, and there is also plenty to look at. Whether using the famous landmarks or using more everyday settings, there is always lots of good detail, and the settings complement the story nicely. At times the plot becomes somewhat fanciful, but probably deliberately so, for it only emphasizes Hitchcock's mastery of technique that he can have his characters do almost anything and make you believe it at the time.

With everything that characterizes Hitchcock at his very best, this fully deserves its reputation as one of the finest films by him or any other director. You can watch it several times and still find it just as entertaining.



Date: 26 August 2001
Summary: Hitchcock Does It Again!

Hitchcock Does It Again! Again he makes a suspenseful movie thats worth watching again and again. Cary Grant is marvelous! Watch It! Its Worth It!


Dallas, TX

Date: 16 August 2001
Summary: I'm Not a Hitchcock Fan, but this I like

After years of recommendation, I finally watched NXNW. Over the years I have seen four other Hitchcock films-- "Psycho" (it felt 30 minutes too long), "Rear Window" (it felt at LEAST 30 minutes too long), "Shadow of a Doubt" (loved it), and "Vertigo" (2 hours, felt like it was six). After a track record like that, I began to think that either a) Years of watching films from the 1980's and -90's has ruined me, or b) Hitchcock isn't nearly as brilliant as some people seem to think he is. Turns out-- big surprise-- it's a mixture of both.

"Vertigo" was very stylish (in parts), but I don't think it holds up, as the story is told much too slowly to make me care. With "North by Northwest" I was pulled in right from the very beginning-- the writing was wonderful. Plot structure and many of the one-liners were too much fun to watch and hear, and with the exception of some cleverly-used 1959 special effects, this screenplay could be remade today, as written, if only because Cary Grant can't open a film anymore (although with a script this great, it wouldn't really matter who the lead was).

Whereas I marveled at screenwriter Lehman's work every few minutes, and Hitchcock's work only every 30 minutes or so, this is still an extremely watchable film and I loved every second of it. It's almost enough to finally make me a Hitchcock fan... but I think I'll check out some Lehman films first.



Date: 30 July 2001
Summary: The Best of all the Hitchcock Thrillers

This is certainly one of Alfred Hitchcock's finest suspense/thrillers he made in the United States. Why he wasn't at least nominated for the Best Director Academy Award for this is unbelievable. It is a bit long, but attention-holding story of business executive Grant on the lamb from two spies who think he is a secret government agent, and then becomes wanted by the law for a murder he did not commit. During this ordeal, he falls in love with the beautiful Eva Marie Saint. Of course, this is the one in which Grant fights for his life against the airplane in a crop-dusting field, and the one where the riveting finale occurs on the peak on Mount Rushmore. Four stars!



Date: 28 July 2001
Summary: Hitchcock's best movie of all times

Best fast-paced action film in history. Worth a good remake. Even today it is worth seeing and does not loose any of its magic. Great flick that was Hitch's masterpiece. Best performance of Eve Marie Saint (too bad Grace Kelly was already married). Martin Landau's claim to fame. Cary Grant's great performance not to be ignored. Overall one of the best movies Hollywood has brought us.



Date: 11 July 2001
Summary: "You men aren't REALLY trying to kill my son, are you?"

North by Northwest seems like the defining Hitchcock film, and yet, it isn't. It's actually quite different from his other films because it thrills while making us laugh as well. Rarely has Hitchcock blended action and comedy. His direction is well-paced and nearly perfect, but the true highlight of the film is Cary Grant, perfectly cast as the innocent, abducted man accused of being a spy.

Everything that follows is incredibly amusing. The international spies do not consider the fact that they may have abducted the wrong man; they are absolutely sure they got the right one. Thornhill, on the other hand, is absolutely sure they've got the wrong man, so the viewer can see both aspects and laugh at the confusion and frustration they all experience. That's brilliant filmmaking.

I've seen North by Northwest many times, and I've found that it can be viewed many times without losing it's original impact. The French Connection is often noted as the first action movie, but I think North by Northwest deserves that honor. It's a lot more thrilling then The French Connection (most of it, anyways) and most of the mind-numbing, modern day action flicks that constantly rely on explosions and violence.


geneseo98 (
Manchester, CT

Date: 5 July 2001
Summary: An answer to this finding a Hitchcock "mistake"

I just saw the movie too for the 1st time and won't bother to spend time talking about its many memoriable moments or strong points. 10 out of 10. But I do want to talk about what some other IMDB members have mentioned about the possible error Hitchcock made by revelaing a movie "secret" too early in the film (SPOLIERS AHEAD!!!) After watching many Hitchcock films and taking a class at my college last year on classic cinema, I learned of a trm called HITCHCOCKIAN SUSPENSE. It's not suspense like that way you tink of where we're nervous if a character is going to sin the big game or survive a fight. It's where we the viewer know of a secret that one of the cahracters on screen has no idea about. It adds another twist to watching the movie because we know somehting they don't and we want to yell at the screen, "You idiot! Can't you figure it out!" By filling us in on the non-existant Kaplan early on in the film, we still undersatnd Cary Grant's obsession with finding the real Kaplan because we were just in the same boat as him. But now we're forced to see him try against in search that's in vain. You can see stuff like this in "Nototious" and "Strangers on a train" also. Also, I loved the scene where the professor explains the Kaplan truth to Thornhill, so we stil lget to see his expression when he finds out but the roar of the airplane covers it so we're spared hearing the same shpiel twice. Also, I think Hitch may be thinking ahead, knowing that he still has some great "revelations" to make later on in the film like revealing Eve is undercover, when the bad guys figure that out, and the whole Thornhill gets shot scene. Discovering there's no Kaplan at that point of the movie would have been overkill and too much info to handle right then.



Date: 1 July 2001
Summary: Classic but not Hitch's best

This great Hitchcock movie delivers although not as great as Hitchcock's earlier works like Rear Window or Vertigo.Some scenes in this movie were over rated but still this movie deserves it's due respect due to the great great cinematography.This movie is more mainstream flavored than the usual Hitchcock classics so there are some annoying childish scenes and situations but the flow of great quality scenes one after another wins the movie watcher's forgiveness.Grant was good here but I have seen him perform better......


didier.leclerc6 (
La Rochelle, France

Date: 24 June 2001
Summary: One of the best !

This film is a must, all the ingredients of the thriller are there, the script, the way it's filmed, the situation of the shootings (!), the conviction of the characters, everything contributes to create this unmistakable "Hitchcockian" touch...



Date: 24 June 2001
Summary: Repeating Elements

North by Northwest is full of repeating elements found in all Hitchcock films. In the 39 Steps, the hero jumps out of a window. So does Cary Grant. In half of Hitchcock's films, there's at least one scene on a train. Cary Grant has at least two in this film. In 39 Steps, the hero is drugged. So is Cary Grant in North by Northwest. And just like trains, the element of comedy is seen throughout the film. It makes you wonder if Hitchcock got lazy at the end of his career or if he just knew what sold an audience.


Hong Kong

Date: 6 June 2001
Summary: Please excuse me while I commit cinematic sacrilege

As it is clearly demonstrated even in this forum, many, many people love this movie. I just finished viewing it myself for the first time, and frankly, I can't say that I agree. Am I nuts? Maybe. All I know is I'd like to put my two cents in, for what it's worth.

For an espionage tale like this, I would have preferred an approach more based on grim realism. Instead, the narrative seemed a bit too convenient and contrived, as if Old Hitch was trying to make the ends meet at the last minute. Somehow, I never felt the `taut' tension of his other films that I've immensely enjoyed (Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, Psycho, The Wrong Man, Vertigo, to name but a few). It certainly doesn't help that the film contains too many scenes that verge on the `fantastical' level. For example, there's a scene in which a gun goes off in the living room of a house. Eva Marie Saint comes out of her room and asks, `What was that noise,' to which James Mason replies, `We were just wondering about that.' Martin Landau just gives a little shrug and all is forgotten. I mean, come on! I'd say it's pretty hard to mistake a gunshot for, say, somebody dropping a glass on the floor. As I mentioned, there are many more scenes like this during the course of the movie, and every single one of them acts as a decelerator' of the narrative. Also, the overall performance of the cast struck me as rather underwhelming, especially when we're talking about some of the finest actors ever to grace the silver screen. James Mason, in particular, sleepwalks his way through, though I can't blame him, given the fact that his character was so painfully underwritten. The bit when Cary Grant acts like he's drunk was pretty difficult to sit through. Humor is fine when it works on, again, a believable level.

I like the idea of having a normal Joe get tangled up in a case of mistaken identity/international espionage. Also, it does feature some memorable scenes, especially the famous crop field/airplane sequence (it really does deserve all the praise it has received) But again, it just proves to me that even a seemingly sure-fire combo like Ernest Lehman-Alfred Hitchcock can still come up short on the goods.

The second 007 adventure, `From Russia with Love', received some hounding because people thought it was basically a rip-off of this movie (there are some obvious similarities), but in this madman's humble opinion, `From Russia with Love' is the one that achieves a better telling of a spy story.



Date: 26 May 2001
Summary: Masterpiece! Hitchcocks Best, and Cary Grants Best.

North By Northwest is a masterpiece. Alfred Hitchcock did an amazing job in this film. Cary Grant, even though he is about 55 years old. He never ages. He still does great movies. When Cary Grant did "Charade", he was 60. Cary Grant didnt act any differently, he never ages. North By Northwest has got it all. It has suspense, and great co-stars, such as Eva Marie Saint and James Mason. It is hard to pick a best Hitchcock because there are so many greats. But North By Northwest is probably the greatest Hitchcock. Alfred Hitchcocks greatest film and Cary Grants greatest film.