See Alfred Hitchcock’s Stellar Movie North By Northwest

Alfred Hitchcock is typically remembered as the master of suspense, but in truth, he pioneered just about everything that would eventually become modern cinema. In Psycho, he invented the slasher film. With North by Northwest, he created the notion of the all-action film. While the film has the same sort of twisty-turny plot that we associate with the master, it is defined by its incredible action set pieces.

Everybody knows about the airplane chase with the crop duster chasing Cary Grant through the crops. It's a great scene, sure, but only one of several awesome set pieces in the film. The shootout on the face of Mt. Rushmore is an equally jaw dropping piece of film making, but one of the real crowning moments is the drunken chase. Cary Grant is fed glass after glass of booze and then put in a car with no brakes, so he has to flee the badguys while drunk in a car with a cut brake line!

Modern action films rarely show this much imagination. There are a few exceptions, the Crank films, some of the work of the Hong Kong masters of action, but after seeing Cary Grant in a drunken car chase, it's hard to get excited at a muscle car running through a fruit stand for the millionth time, or the hero running amok with a machine gun in either hand.

One thing this film has that most action flicks lack would be context. The climactic shootout isn't just a shootout, it's a shootout on the face of Mt. Rushmore. The chase scene with the biplane has Grant running into the crops only to have the plane dust him with pesticide. Layers of challenge were thrust at the hero and it only kept piling up.

It was never enough for Hitchcock to just put the hero up against some badguys with guns, he had to put his heroes between a rock and a hard place, into situations where anything they could do to solve one problem would only lead to other problems. This made for better stories and better action.

It's really too bad that the legacy Hitchcock left behind would be so frequently copied, turned into formula, rather than innovated upon and re-imagined. Still, we'll always have classics like Psycho and Vertigo to go back to when we get bored of the same old kiss kiss, bang bang that we get from so many dull genre efforts these days.

The film also boasts one of the most direct love scenes of all time, depicting a train going into a tunnel. When X rated films got big in the seventies, Hitchcock said "I don't know what the big deal is, I already did this with North by Northwest!"

If you haven't yet, see it. It remains startlingly relevant and exciting all these years later, and makes a perfect antidote to the big budget blockbusters that have the scale and scope of North by Northwest, but not the style.

To Grant's dismay Fiona is not allowed any visitors for the first 30 days. Movies On Line By the mid-18th century the guitar began to take its modern form. Those Mob guys have probably already shot Nicky and all he can talk about is changing T.V.

Classic Movies, Reviews

Powered by WP Robot