North by Northwest [ Brawest ride ! ].

North by Northwest [ NBNW – Spy n suspense thriller/1959 ]
Directed by : Alfred Hitchcock – AFCK
Cast : Cary Grant, Eva marie saint
Written by : Ernest Lehman

Recently, I read about the 50th year anniversary of this movie in ‘The Hindu’ and hence this review 🙂 [ What a reasoning ! ] Alfred Hitchcock was sadly considered only as a ‘master of suspense/thriller’ rather he is the complete master of movie making. He was a director who never used the camera viewfinder to visualise a shot. He never wrote a script, entirely credited in his name – all he did was extracting the best from the writer(s) and direct them, with a masterful touch.

There were spy thrillers, much before James bond pictures were released. One of the pioneer films dealing with secret agent was NBNW. I consider this as frontier to the Bond movies. [ Dr.No was released in 1962. ]

Plot :

NY based advt executive Roger Thornhill [ Cary Grant ] is kidnapped by a criminal organization. Roger is mistaken for a government secret agent named George. The gang tries to kill by forcible made him drunk and driven in a car. He escapes from the accident and get arrested. He later tries to see the leader named Townsend in the UN council – A murder happens in UN and of course, Roger was suspected for the same. Now he has to escape from the criminal gang, government agents and of course, police. The criminal gang is set to steal some microfilms and smuggle them. Roger escapes in a train and meets Eve and she protects him from police. They develop a romantic relation [ [ Remember..I said him Bond 🙂 – impressive dialogues in the train ]. He travels then to find the secret agent George and meet many surprises. He is chased across USA and he pieces together the mysterious puzzle. The climax happens in the famous location, Mt.Rushmore.

View :

– The title graphic scene was the first in the film history to use moving text. Also, the graphics image turns into a real shot [ remember ‘Andhi mazhai‘ song’s graphics ]. The trivia is that AFCK worked as title designer in his initial days.

– In parallel, the typical thriller movie BGM score starts. The music in this film is a perfect match for a suspense thriller. The film begins in the very first shot [ not even the scene ].

– Every 2nd/3rd scene got a twist. Right from the first scene, the viewer is taken into the story with suspense. Though the credit goes to the writer Ernest Lehman I would say it’s AFCK, who converted them to scenes, skillfully.

– Cary Grant – a perfect personality for James Bond role. Even, he dresses [ kisses 🙂 ] like a Bond.

– The famous ‘crop dusting’ plane chase scene.. The total sequence is 16 mins and for the first 8 mins, nothing happens. Yes.. 8 mins the viewer just looks for all corners of the scene for something to happen. Most memorable scene !

– The film contains an equal slice of romance between Cary Grant and Eva. Thank God, he didn’t choose James stewart [ dreary hero – Rear window ].

Conclusion :

Despite of its age, the movie is still fresh to watch. 53 films in 50 years in his film career – very few were dull. In fact, I started my DVD collections with AFCK movies. The good ones from his bag are [ haven’t seen all his films 🙁 ]

– Vertigo [ Can u guess the MGR movie made out of this ? ]
– Psycho
– Frenzy
– Spellbound [ Film made in 1945 and still interesting to watch. also, applicable for Ingred Bergman 🙂 ].
– Birds [ He threatened the audience with crows, sparrows and seagulls 🙂 ]
– I confess

On a personal note, I found elegant English was used in all of his films [ no subtitles needed – Elevator bell dings ! ha..ha.. ].


  1. post retirement(apdi oru phase varumaa nnu theriyalai) pakka, oru list ready pannalam nu irundhen! u r saving my time!

  2. Thanks Rajan for your comments..பார்த்த‌ ப‌ட‌ங்க‌ள் கைய‌ளவு.. பார்க்க வேண்டிய‌ ப‌ட‌ங்க‌ள் க‌ட‌ல‌ள‌வு.

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