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North by Northwest
Short plot summary

Roger O Thornhill (Cary Grant) is mistaken for George Caplin, a fictitious spy. He is kidnapped, made to drink a bottle of Bourbon and then drives off... he is stopped by the police, returns to the scene of his kidnapping, but nobody seems to believe a word he says... especially when one of his abductors seems well connected and is about to give an address at the United Nations...

What our panel of critics thought

"I bet if Grant had chopped a tree down in that suit and tie it would have remained pristine."

"Is Grant wearing one of those self cleaning suits that were so popular in comics in the 1950's? Self cleaning Brylcream too me thinks."

"There is something about Cary Grant's voice that hypnotizes me... I aa--mmm- ffeeeeeling sllleeeeeepppyyy.... "

"This is real classic super groovy cinema."

"There is something amiss about the whizzing scenery while our heroes sit in the train eating their 'trouty trout'. When looking at her it's all bushy, when cutting to him its just the sea..."

Please tell me the ending or plot details if necessary

George Caplin never existed, he was a front for a mysterious group's law enforcement dealings, could be CIA, FBI, who knows... The blonde love interest, Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint), is a secret agent (working for the CIA, FBI or whoever) and she seems to have gotten herself into a spot of bother...

Thornton/Caplin (Cary Grant) has fallen for Eve and tries to help her out when he discovers her predicament. She is working undercover with a group led by Phillip Vandamm (James Mason) - they have just realized that she is not to be trusted and are about to kill her.

In an attempt to protect her cover, Kendall supposedly kills Thornton but she only fires blanks at him. Thankfully, this is the only gun the baddies have so whenever they hold anyone up it's possible to just walk away - he he he. Our heroes eventually escape by climbing over that South Dakota mountain with the president's faces carved in...

The last we see of our love birds is that they are about to start boinking on the train again... but don't worry 1950's folk - he calls her Mrs Thornton!!! Que train going into tunnel - oohh ahhh missus...

Quotable quote

Cary Grant, just after being kidnapped: "Don't tell me where we're going, surprise me!"

Dr Bravisimo-Encore II Movie Review

A rattling good screenplay with Hitchcock really only needing to film it by numbers. A few nice touches:

  • looking at the traffic going past in the reflection of mirror-windowed high-rise buildings
  • the camera sweeping supposedly through the train from the outside to inside the carriage (although it is a bit clunky)
  • and that crop sprayer scene, filmed to perfection

It's all a load of old nonsense and you have to suspend your disbelief at times (it was lucky the guy wrestling Thornton on the President's mountain was such a butter fingers or he could have held on a bit longer rather than plummeting to his death so easily like he did). Our heroes are also saved just in the nick of time at the end.

All in all it's a classy movie and Cary Grant's voice is truly hypnotic - completely calm and yet believable. However, I don't remember seeing him smile more than a couple of times.

Other comments

This is real classy cinema. It's got a story that pulls you in and keeps you rooting for the hero right up until the end. The ending is what you would have hoped for and you will have been happy you made the journey. Popular amongst critics.

Date of review

December 20 , 2004

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