59. North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)
The poster is pretty underwhelming (what’s up with Eva Marie Saint shooting a ray gun at Cary Grant’s bum?), especially for a Hitchcock poster. Thankfully the movie isn’t.
It might be Hitchcock‘s most fun movie from just a pure entertainment standpoint. It starts fast and doesn’t relent. The tone is never serious, and Cary Grant is adept at being both stylish and witty, while James Mason‘s villain is somewhat menacing but also very charming with a lot great lines. In some ways he kind of reminds me of Alan Rickman in Die Hard. He’s that kind of bad guy, a scumbag but somehow you kind of like him.
I think in some ways too it is Hitchcock’s most accessible film too. Again the speed at which everything happens draws the viewer in, and from there the pace is furious, with a lot of twists and turns along the way. I realize the film has its deeper complexities like all Hitchcock’s work, but I think it’s probably the best introduction to Hitchcock save for maybe Rear Window. I mean Psycho is good, but I can see where people would think it sucks(it’s black & white, it’s a bit slow, and the ending might not work for some), and I don’t like Vertigo very much at all. North by Northwest is so effective because it can be enjoyed simply as entertainment without subtext. I also think it feels very modern as well. Oh and Cary Grant is awesome.
I should let it be known that Cary Grant is my favorite male actor, and one of the few that I will watch in anything. Kirk Douglas is another, and perhaps John Cusack. I should note there are probably about a dozen actresses I will watch in anything, I guess it’s cos I watch films with my penis. But Cary Grant is basically the man in my books. He’s gorgeous, sauve, impecably stylish, witty, charismatic, pimp as hell and he can do a mean backflip. I’m not the first person to say this, but I want to be Cary Grant. He’s just so cool. I even bought a pair of the sunglasses he wears in the film(mine are black rimmed though). His allure is so strong to me, that although I am decidedly pro-knowledge, and absolutely fascinated by old school Hollywood gossip, I don’t want to know anything more about the real Cary Grant because it will somehow diminish his awesomeness. I know too much already, so I avoid gossip about him because I want to preserve the illusion. There is no one else I’ve done that for.
On filmaffinity.com I gave the film 9/10. Not Hitchcock’s very best, but maybe his most enjoyable film.