Tuesday, October 5, 2010

North by Northwest

So yeah, Hitchcock was pretty darn good at this directing thing. The other movies of his I've seen to this point have been mostly similar, dark and mostly reserved suspense thrillers. Northwest is different from those; a bit lighter in tone, more out in the open, and closer to the action end of the thriller spectrum. It's also quite funny, with most of the best one liners I've seen in one of his films. As far as just a good time at the movies goes, Northwest is one of the best examples from any time in the medium's history.

Cary Grant is pretty much a perfect choice for the lead role of Roger Thornhill. He's an ad executive who gets mistaken for a secret agent, and eventually falsely accused of murder and put on the run. At first he just wants things to return to normal, but eventually it gets personal when a woman gets involved. His performance brings a lot of humanity to the central plot, which could have gotten silly and out of control if someone wasn't there to ground it. You can buy Thornhill being caught up in all this because Grant makes you. The supporting cast is good too, although less recognizable.

It's pretty astounding how many classic set pieces they were able to cram into just a couple hours, and Hitchcock films them all beautifully. The airplane at the crossroads is obviously great, with the shot where Thornhill realizes what's going on perhaps my favorite by Hitchcock that I've seen. Though it's hard to surpass the cleverness of the way he manages to leave an art auction without getting grabbed by the bad guy's men. The climax is outstanding too, with just the right amount of tension, betrayal, humor, and excitement, although the quick resolution was honestly a bit jarring at first. Still, it works for the kind of movie they were trying to make, I guess. Not my favorite film of his, but definitely the most fun so far.

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