North By Northwest
New Packaging ed.
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North By Northwest (DVD) (Rpkg)
Cary Grant stars as an innocent man mistaken for a spy in one of director Alfred Hitchcock's greatest thrillers. While leaving New York's Plaza Hotel, advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Grant) has the misfortune of standing just as the name "George Kaplan" is paged--starting a lethal case of mistaken identity and a nonstop game of cat and mouse as he is pursued across North America by espionage agents trying to kill him--and by police who suspect him of murder.]]>
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THE STORY: An unassuming advertising executive is mistaken for an undercover government operative by some very unsavory characters. In less than 24 hours his entire, comfortably predictable routine world is completely destroyed and he himself is in mortal danger. It will take all of his fast-thinking "baffle them with BS" advertising skills, some stealthy assistance from mysterious double agent, and more than a little luck... if he hopes to stay a step ahead of the ruthless criminals intent on rubbing him out.
THOUGHTS (contains minor spoilers): One of my favorite Hitchcock films. Everyone is perfectly cast. Super suave acting legend Cary Grant was never better than here, as delightfully dapper (and rather daft) New York ad exec Roger Thornhill. Eva-Maire Saint is terrific, smart and smoldering; one of the sexiest women to ever cross paths with Grant. Their chemistry is terrific. Leo G. Carroll is wonderful as the crafty government head honcho who seems indifferent to whether or not the innocent Thornhill will survive the nightmarish web into which he's become accidentally entangled. Of course any hero is only as good as his nemesis. Here, the classy, always unflappable James Mason is in top form as the sophisticated traitor who has secrets to sell. A young Martin Landau is disturbingly evil as one of Mason's high-strung, coldly-cunning henchmen. The film takes us from one great set-up to another - including the deservedly legendary crop duster sequence - all culminating in a breathless chase across the presidential faces on Mount Rushmore. It's equal parts tension & fun. A thoroughly entertaining motion picture experience; a masterpiece that is equal parts style & suspense, by one of the medium's true all-time masters. NORTH BY NORTHWEST is a genuine classic that belongs in every movie fan's collection, no doubt about it.
THE BLU-RAY: Sadly, I was not as impressed by the remastered Blu-ray as I had hoped to be. Don't misunderstand me. The remaster is a fine one, but NORTH BY NORTHWEST doesn't look anywhere near as amazing as the recent remaster of Hitchcock's THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY. That film looks absolutely astonishing. NBNW looks good, but not great. There are several excellent bonus features included, which increases the collectability if you're a film buff. Even if you're not, the upgraded picture and improved sound are worth a double-dip if you already own the film in DVD format.
Thornhill replies, "Not that I mind a slight case of abduction now and then, but I have tickets to the theater this evening. To a show I was looking forward to!" And that sets the pace for the whole movie. Politely sinister. Classy humor. Thornhill is played with panache and great comic touch by Cary Grant. Townsend is played with sly menace by James Mason. The lovely Eva Marie Saint doesn't even appear in the 1st half of the movie, then her Eve Kendall takes over the screen and Thornhill's heart - but it costs her.
"North by Northwest" has a couple of the most recognized and parodied scenes in films. The cropduster chasing Cary Grant in the middle of nowhere never loses its fear factor. And who can forget Roger Thornhill and Eve Kendall climbing down Mt. Rushmore?
I'm writing this review to let you know that the extras on the 50th Anniversary Edition, 2 DVD's, are simply excellent
North by Northwest (Two-Disc 50th Anniversary Edition):
1. "Cary Grant: A Class Apart". First airing in 2004, this is an 87 minute episode of PBS's "American Masters" TV series. It is narrated by Helen Mirren and Jeremy Northam, with many movie clips and contributing commenters. Cary Grant was in 72 films, including 4 directed by Alfred Hitchcock. He ended his film career voluntarily, quitting while he was at the top. He passed away in 1986 of a stroke. Look at this list of interviewees for this special! I found this extra in-depth and interesting.
- Barbara Grant, his wife from 1981-1986
- Jeanine Basinger, film historian
- Roderick Mann, friend
- Nancy Nelson, author of "Evenings with Cary Grant"
- Betsy Drake, actor, his wife from 1949-1962 and an outspoken pistol!
- Elvis Mitchell, film critic for the "New York Times"
- Peter Bogdanovich, director (he knew Hitchcock and Grant personally, and he participates on the movie commentary track for the DVD Collector's Edition of "To Catch a Thief")
- Martin Landau, actor, who plays James Mason's secretary, Leonard, in "North by Northwest"
- James Harvey, film historian
- Ralph Bellamy, actor, from a 1988 interview (he's not in this film)
- Todd McCarthy, author "Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood"
- David Denby, film critic for "The New Yorker"
- Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., actor, from a 1988 interview
- Howard Hawks, director, from 1967 interview. He directed Grant in "His Girl Friday" (1940) and "Bringing Up Baby" (1938)
- Dina Merrill, actor
- Jill St. John, actor
- Sidney Sheldon, writer
- Ralph Laren, designer, friend
- Eva Marie Saint, actor
- Mel Shavelson, director, he directed Grant in "Houseboat" (1958)
- Deborah Kerr, actor, from 1988 interview
- Ernest Lehman, screenwriter for "North by Northwest"
- Alfred Hitchcock, director, from 1966 interview
- Stanley Donen, directed Grant in "Charade" (1963, with Audrey Hepburn)
- George Kennedy, actor, from 2003 interview
- Samantha Eggar, actor
- and, last but not least, Cary Grant, in that they read excerpts from a series of autobiographical essays that were published in 1963. Grant gave few interviews, but he did open up in these essays.
2. "The Master's Touch: Hitchcock's Signature Style". This is a 57 minute documentary from 2009. This was also fascinating to watch. It starts with Alfred himself saying, "It may be that I was born with the sense of drama"!
A little bit of everything is covered in this extra, from costumes to music, to Hitchcock's preference for cool blonde leading ladies. Most of the comments, however, and not unexpectedly, have to do with his direction. How he made the angles, light, composition, point of view and camera tell the story and paint the mood. An impressive list of directors talk about Hitchcock's genius:
- Francis Lawrence, director of "I Am Legend" and "Constantine"
- William Friedkin, director of "The Exorcist" and "The French Connection"
- Guillermo del Toro, director of "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Hellboy"
- John Carpenter, director of "Halloween" and "Escape From New York"
- Richard Loncraine, director of "Firewall"
- Martin Scorsese, director of "Goodfellas"
- Curtis Hanson, director of "L.A. Confidential" and "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle"
- Joe Carnahan, director of "Smokin' Aces"
3. "The Making of North by Northwest", hosted by Eva Marie Saint. Interesting stories are told by several people, including Pat Hitchcock, the director's daughter, and Ernest Lehman, writer for "North by Northwest". Lehman talks about the genesis of the plot, when Hitchcock tells him: "I've always wanted to do a chase across the faces of Mount Rushmore."
4. "North by Northwest: One for the Ages", a short. This looks like it is made up of unused material from extra #2, "The Master's Touch". Also interesting.
5. Stills Gallery
6. Trailers and TV Spots