Film of the Week 26 September 2020

Vintage classics keep rolling out just now and I have been re-watching the 1959 Hitchcock classic, North By Northwest. Sandwiched between Vertigo and Psycho this is the master of suspense in a lighter mood with a romance framed by a spy thriller.

Like the 39 Steps and Sabotage the hero, Roger Thornhill is an innocent man on the run after being kidnapped by a spy network in a case of mistaken identity. As played by Cary Grant he is a successful businessman who lives a dull life according to his previous wives. But now he is in a nightmare scenario with an attempt to kill him and a murder charge involving a nationwide man hunt. Through it all he has an urbane charm and thanks to a great script he sales through it all with ease.

Matching him as the villain is the superb James Mason equally charming but deadly. Eva Marie Saint is at her best as the cool blond temptress beloved of Hitchcock.

The film endures with classic sequences- the drunk car drive, the United Nations Building murder, the crop- dusting sequence and the climax on Mount Rushmore with Grant hanging from Lincoln’s nose! This is Hitchcock at his best yet at the Oscars it missed out to Ben-Hur, and Pillow Talk! Despite his multitude of awards, he never won an Oscar as Best Director.

A film to see again and again.