North by Northwest

North by Northwest ★★★★

Noir November (Film #45)

"That's funny... that planes dustin' crops where there ain't no crops."

North by Northwest may not be my favorite Hitchcock film, but it's easily his most impressive in terms of sheer scale and production value. Everything about this film is big... really big. The plot is epic and complex. Hitch uses wide angle shots to create a feeling of overwhelming beauty, and at the same time immanent doom. The main character, Roger Thornhill, has a large personality which gets him in and out of trouble throughout the film. The storyline is easily Hitchcock largest scale adventure with more twists and turns than any of his other films. The themes and messages that Hitch delivers are powerful, thought provoking, and push the limit of what was acceptable to discuss back in 1959.... mistaken identity, political depravity, and sexual blackmail. And finally, there are two unforgettable, large scale, budget busting sequences, one in the middle of the film and one at the end, that make North by Northwest incredibly memorable, as well as a film that will be a part of cinematic history forever. I do have to admit that the sequence with the plane at the crossroads is easily some of the most interesting and well executed cinema that Hitch every released. Watching Roger Thornhill as he stands in the middle of nowhere wearing his expensive Madison Ave. suit...waiting, and waiting, and waiting... The tension slowly building. And then, what's that in the distance? A plane is slowly coming towards Roger, and then it swoops down, narrowly missing the top of Roger's head. The plane dives once.... The plane dives twice.... A third time... There's nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. This one sequence, lasting only 15 minutes or so, makes North by Northwest an unforgettable experience. Then Hitch threw in a monstrous finale where the main character and the woman he loves end up being chased across Mount Rushmore.... Hitch definitely pushed the boundaries with North by Northwest. My favorite aspects of North by Northwest were the wide angle camerawork that was well composed throughout the film, and the overwhelming feeling of paranoia that Hithcock creates with this film. No matter where Roger looks there seems to be someone out to get him... he can't trust anyone. In my personal opinion, Hitch is at his best when he focuses on the small details, so North by Northwest isn't at the top of my Hitchcock list. But no matter where I rank it overall, this film is still some of the most incredible work that Hitch ever accomplished. If nothing else, North by Northwest is an entertaining, unforgettable, and stunning experience. Hitch made sure that this film would never be forgotten by pushing the limit and making it so damn big that no one could deny its place in history.
Total - 84%