The best thriller ever.
In mentioning some essential Blu-Ray DVDs the other day, Hitchcock’s North by Northwest was naturally in the list.
The reasons are simple. From Saul Bass’s opening titles superimposed on the UN building with a reflected First Avenue gradually coming into view to the oh! so suggestive closing shot of the train entering the tunnel, this is the perfect thriller. Bernard Herrmann’s score of yearning beauty complements two equally beautiful leads, Cary Grant and a 25-year old Eve Marie Saint.
But it’s Hitchcock’s love for the vastness and variety of America, perfectly realized in Robert Burks’s cinematography, which are the real reasons to see this outstanding movie. Some examples:
A perfectly poised Eve Marie-Saint in the railway sleeper.
Cary Grant runs from the United Nations building.
Grant at Prairie Stop 41 in the middle of nowhere.
“Are you Mr. Kaplan?”
“Cain’t say I am ‘cos I ain’t.”
One of the most famous images in the cinema.
Grant is chased by the crop dusting plane.
At Chicago’s Union Station the cops try to
find a disguised Grant in a sea of Redcaps.
An image worthy of a latter day Edvard Munch.
Grant now doubting Saint’s motives is torn between
caressing and throttling her.
Saint shoots Grant. Owing to the many takes,
the little boy at the right got tired of the
noise and wisely stuck his fingers in his ears.
Grant climbs Mount Rushmore to avoid the bad guys.
The Blu-Ray version improves markedly on both video and sound compared with the regular DVD; maybe not as much as Lawrence of Arabia does, but enough to make it worth the very modest outlay.