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No film series would be complete without an Alfred Hitchcock classic, and “North by Northwest” is one of the best. Filmed in several locations in New York City, including Park Ave, Madison Ave, Grand Central Station, the Omni Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago, Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota, and, unofficially, the United Nations Headquarters in New York (more on that later).
Hitchcock is one of the few directors who could put a nightstand in a shot for twenty minutes in a dark room, and we would be terrified just imagining what is in it.
“North by Northwest” is a suspense-thriller about a case of mistaken identity. Cary Grant is Roger Thornhill, a New York advertising man who bad guys believe is a United States intelligence agent they want to frame for murder. Caught in the middle of something he does not know anything about, he follows along. Along the way he meets, Eve, played by Eva Marie Saint, who volunteers to help him, yet acts suspicious. And, of course, delightful Alfred Hitchcock appears in his traditional cameo appearance (he made 40 known cameos in his 52 surviving films). My favorite moment in Alfred Hitchcock’s films is finding the moment when he appears.
“Now you listen here, I’m an advertising man, not a red herring. I’ve got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders depending upon me, and I don’t intend to disappoint them all by getting myself ‘slightly’ killed.”-Roger Thornhill, as played by Cary Grant
As the mystery unfolds, Roger finds himself deeper and deeper in trouble. In a surprising turn of events, he has to save the mystery woman Eve. They eventually find themselves escaping together at the top of Mount Rushmore!
The United Nations did not give Hitchcock permission to film at their headquarters. He covertly pulled up to the front of the building in a taxi and rolled down the window and filmed the entrance. Later, he had Cary Grant walk into the United Nations while he secretly filmed him as U.N. security walked by.
The next hurdle in his cinematography desires was to film at the top of Mount Rushmore. The Department of Interior refused; however, a compromise was made to not film on the presidents’ faces. It appears that Alfred Hitchcock was as fearless and headstrong as his characters.
Rotten Tomatoes gives “North by Northwest” a rare 99% critics score and a 94% audience score. Describing it as a “Gripping, suspenseful, and visually iconic, this late-period Hitchcock classic laid the groundwork for countless action thrillers to follow.”
Grant is the only actor that could deliver the humorous, sarcastic responses needed in a Hitchcock film. His ability to be calm, yet flustered and serious, yet comedic at the same time is a trademark for Grant.