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Wednesday 31 January 2024

North by Northwest - The First Bond Movie?


The MGM lion roars at us from a green background and Bernard Herrmann’s superb overture accepts his challenge. Saul Bass’ groundbreaking opening credits slide across the VistaVision screen and across the facade of a New York office building, traffic reflected in the towering glass. Below, the streets disgorge their load as a sea of commuters moves busily to and from their day. Women squabble over a taxi and a man misses the bus. 

Cary Grant is Thornhill.

An elevator discharges passengers, among them a tall, distinguished executive and his secretary. As they walk, he dictates letters – an invite to The Colony, chocolates from Blum’s. Greeting the porter and taking a paper, he walks her out to join the throng on Madison Avenue. His secretary’s tired and he’s late; can’t they take a cab? Reluctantly, he agrees, flagging one down with the pretense of having a sick woman to transport. She reproaches him for the lie, but he responds ‘In the world of advertising, there's no such thing as a lie, there's only the expedient exaggeration. You ought to know that.’ He remembers his Mother; he has tickets for the theatre, dinner will be at ‘21’. She runs through his appointments for the next day and he alights, remembering too late his Mother isn’t at home, so can’t be reached. The taxi’s already gone, leaving him at the Plaza. 


Greeting our man as Mr. Thornhill, the waiter takes him through to the Oak Room where he’s expected for drinks. He joins his companions, but is distracted by his faux pas; calling for a boy to send a telegram just as the bellhop is calling the name Kaplan. Two heavies are watching; naturally, they mistake Thornhill for their man Kaplan. The bellhop asks Thornhill to accompany him to send his message and he excuses himself, but is waylaid by the two thugs who produce both European accents and a pistol, marching him to a waiting Cadillac. Sandwiched in the back between the two, Thornhill makes a move for the door; locked. His captors don’t say a word as he’s driven through imposing gates to a large house, the name ‘Townsend’ on the sign. 


It takes an age, but finally, the Cadillac rolls up on an expanse of gravel. A forbidding woman answers the door and Thornhill is taken through to the library, to be locked in. He quips he’ll catch up on his reading, before going to the desk to find the home belongs to a Lester Townsend of Glen Cove. The man himself then arrives, drawing the curtain and switching a light on to observe his guest isn’t what he expected; taller, more polished than ‘the others’. Thornhill’s discomfiture at being abducted is dismissed as play acting, but then a thin, cautious satyr of a man enters. Leonard. At the name Kaplan, Thornhill remonstrates; to no avail. Townsend is convinced he is Kaplan. Mrs. Townsend arrives, looking harried. Their dinner guests are waiting. 


Martin Landau (Left) as Leonard, James Mason is Townsend. Or is he?

Reasonable in tone, with patient indulgence, Townsend proposes they get down to business. Thornhill is all for that, but his captor wants to know what he knows and how he came by the information. He doesn’t expect to receive this for nothing, but at least feels he should offer ‘Kaplan’ the chance of surviving the evening. What is that supposed to mean? They know where he’s headed – the theatre, he insists – getting as far as the door to find Valerian, one of the stooges barring his exit. They know about his contact in Pittsburgh since Jason’s suicide… But he’s never been to Pittsburgh. Reading the details, Townsend informs him he checked into a hotel under the name Kaplan, listing his itinerary across the country from city to city, always giving the previous city by way of address and now resident of the Plaza Hotel in New York. There’s more; he’s due to visit Chicago and Rapid City, South Dakota. 


Will he co-operate? A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will do. A simple no. ‘For the simple reason that I simply don't know what you're talking about.’ Leaving Thornhill at the mercy of his men, Townsend goes to attend to his other guests. Leonard offers him a drink, but he’s not thirsty. 


Grabbing Thornhill, the heavies force a bottle of bourbon down his neck, bundling him, incoherent, behind the wheel of a Mercedes Benz cabriolet. The ominous sight and sound of waves crashing against the Long Island rocks gives an idea of his intended fate. One of the heavies climbs in and starts the engine, setting them towards the rocks, but Thornhill manages to bundle him from the car, which skids over the edge, hanging precariously with one rear wheel spinning over the dizzying precipice. 


Somehow, Thornhill gets the cabriolet back onto the road, lurching off drunkenly and just avoiding colliding with a station wagon, the twists and turns of the road more than enough to deal with in his condition. With the two expectant thugs following in another car, Thornhill’s Mercedes skids around the serpentine road, driving another car onto the verge before more near misses. A patrol car parked by the verge gives chase, but a cyclist crossing ahead forces Thornhill to hit the brakes and the police car crunches into the back of him, another car into theirs. 



Thornhill is taken to the station, high as a kite, insisting he was the subject of a murder attempt, but the car was just reported stolen. We learn his name is Roger. He gets his one call, to his Mother. He’s going nowhere until the morning, so asks for his lawyer. The Doctor is called to examine him and the next morning, Mrs. Thornhill sits in embarrassed silence at the court hearing. Thornhill’s lawyer relates the abduction and murder attempt and the judge hands the case over to the county detectives, to see if there’s anything to this obvious cock and bull. 


Jessie Royce Landis as Thornhill's formidable Mother.

Back at the Townsend residence, Thornhills senior and junior are accompanied by the detectives; Mr. Townsend has left for the day, but Mrs. Townsend is in residence. Waiting in the library, Thornhill shows the detectives the sofa where they spilled half a bottle forcing it down him. It’s spotless. The drinks cabinet! Is now a book cabinet. Mrs. T arrives and does the ‘Roger dear!’ routine, hugging him and asking if he got home all right; they were so worried about him… He left the party drunk. Thoroughly discredited, Thornhill is infuriated at her performance and when she mentions her husband is addressing the United Nations, he’s sunk. They leave, with the gardener – the thug named Valerian watching them depart.


Back at the Plaza, Thornhill shows his Mother Kaplan exists; he calls the operator. Kaplan hasn’t answered his phone in two days. Ma Thornhill agrees to get the key to Kaplan’s room – for $50 and they go up together. The maid mistakes Thornhill for Kaplan – It’s all the rage it seems and he wonders if he resembles the man. 


Inside, he finds a group photo, Townsend being one of the gang and ringing for the maid, Elsie, Thornhill questions her. She believes him to be Kaplan, though she’s never laid eyes on him as he’s never in. The valet arrives with a suit, but he’s never seen ‘Mr. Kaplan’ in the flesh before either. He rings down to have his suits collected. A quick check reveals the Invisible Guest to be shorter than Thornhill.

The telephone buzzes and the voice of one of last night’s thugs; by now ever more convinced that Thornhill and Kaplan are one and the same. Why else would he answer the phone in Kaplan’s room? Thornhill calls reception; where did the call come from? The lobby. Hurrying mother along to the elevators, the Thornhills are followed into the car by the two stooges who have just exited the one coming up. 


Thornhill indicates the two with a nod and, delightfully, Mrs. Thornton asks ‘You gentlemen aren't really trying to kill my son, are you?’ and her son has to stand fuming in silence as the entire car erupts into laughter. As the elevator reaches the lobby, Thornhill stalls the two by insisting ‘ladies first’ and makes a break, dashing into a taxi ahead of a couple. Their luck isn’t any better with the second taxi, as the two goons push their way into it and chase is given.


Thornhill decides to go to the UN General Assembly building, asking his cabbie to lose the tail. At the reception of the imposing modernist complex, he asks for Townsend and gives his name as Kaplan. He’s directed to the busy public lounge, where he asks again and the receptionist pages Townsend. One of the heavies has arrived, donning gloves. Maybe his hands are cold? 


Townsend arrives, except this isn’t the man who tried to have Thornhill killed at all. Taking Townsend aside, Thornhill questions him to discover he’s not been home to Glen Cove in a month. He stays in town when the UN is in session. Then what about Mrs. Townsend? His wife has been dead for many years. So what’s this all about? Remembering the photo from the hotel, Thornhill produces it to ask if he knows the imposter, but the thug throws a knife into Townsend’s back and leaves before anyone notices. Slumping forward to join his late wife, Townsend falls into Roger’s arms and, seeing the knife, the shocked man pulls it from the body – at which point everyone in the room sees a man with a knife standing over a body. 


Camera bulbs flash and the reporters have their story. Abandoning any hope of protesting innocence, Thornhill runs for it, a tiny figure seen from a dizzying height as he flees.


At the United States Intelligence Agency, the night final edition of The Evening Star is being read at the conference table. The paper shows a picture of Thornhill, knife in hand and the lurid details of how he brutally murdered Townsend after the drink-driving debacle at Glen Cove. 


The Government men – and lone lady are puzzled; none of them has heard of Thornhill, yet he’s mistaken for Kaplan. Who doesn’t even exist. They put it together; Vandamm’s men are responsible for this, using Townsend’s home as part of the scheme before murdering him. C’est la guerre… So what are they going to do? The Professor – the chief, says they do nothing. Oh, they could congratulate themselves that their fictional decoy has been supplanted by a living one. But how long will he stay alive? Asks Mrs. Finlay. That’s his problem. He dismisses the protests of his subordinates; ‘What can we do to save him without endangering our own agent?’


Leo G. Carroll plays The Professor. A British Actor, Carroll went on to play Alexander Waverly in 'The Man From U.N.C.L.E.' (1964-1968)

Wistfully, Mrs. Finlay says a goodbye to Roger Thornhill, wherever he is.

The Grand Central Terminal. Police are on the alert for the escaped murderer, the crowds making their job a difficult one. The man himself is in a booth, calling Mother. He checked with the Plaza; Kaplan’s checked out, headed to Chicago. Mother wants him to go to the Police. His only chance is to find Kaplan – he knows what this is all about. The train is safer than a plane – more places to hide and he can’t jump off a plane. 


Donning sunglasses, he makes his way past the cops to the ticket booths and asks for a bedroom on the 20th Century. All sold out. There’s always coach… The next train isn’t until ten. Thornhill asks the clerk to call and check. Something wrong with his eyes? Yes, they’re sensitive to questions. Glancing down at the Police photo of Thornhill and knife, the clerk tells him not to go away. He goes to call the cops, but when he gets back to the window, Thornhill is isn’t there. 


Eva Marie Saint is Eve. Remarkably, at the time of writing she is approaching her 100th Birthday.

With the cops not far behind, Thornhill blusters his way past the gate and strides along the famous red carpet, ducking onto the train. There’s heat everywhere, so he dashes back down the corridor, bumping into an extremely attractive blond. More cops. Thornhill ducks into a cabin and she sends the cops wrong. Re-emerging, Thornhill makes light of it ‘Seven parking tickets’. Knowingly she walks off down the passageway. 


The great train thrumbles its way along the Hudson River. Ticket inspectors are, well, inspecting tickets, Thornhill emerging from the toilet after they pass. Strolling through to the Century Club car he is seated opposite the blond and asks for a Gibson. 


The woman looks at him with an amused detachment, cool, appraising. He asks if she has any recommendations. The brook trout is a little ‘trouty’, but good. He orders and then goes to remove the sunglasses, before catching himself. ‘I know. I look vaguely familiar.’ Yes. ‘You feel you've seen me somewhere before.’ He says he has that kind of face.

What he means is, when he meets an attractive woman he has to pretend he has no desire to make love to her. What makes him think he has to conceal it? They might find it objectionable. She replies ‘Then again she might not.’ before taking a sip of her coffee. Taking a sip of his Gibson, he remarks on how lucky he was to be seated with her, but it wasn’t luck; she bribed the steward to seat him there.

She introduces herself; Eve Kendall, twenty-six, unmarried. So what does she do when not luring men to their doom on the Twentieth Century Limited? Industrial designer.

She tells him not to worry, she won’t say a word. How come? She told him; it’s a nice face. Besides, she doesn’t like the book she’s started. She takes out a cigarette and Thornhill produces a match book with his initials printed on the cover. R.O.T. What does the ‘O’ stand for? Nothing. 


He lights her smoke and she holds onto his hand, pulling it back to her to blow out the flame. He admits he’s a stowaway, or he’d invite her back to his bedroom. She has a drawing room to herself and gives him the number. She’s quite a number herself…

The mood changes as the great train makes a brief unscheduled stop; the Police are boarding. Reclining on the day-bed in her compartment with her book, Eve has hidden Thornhill in the folding bed; he asks for olive oil if he’s going to be packed in like a sardine… There’s a knock and two detectives enter, showing her a wire photo of Thornhill. They know they dined together, left together. She denies the latter; they might have happened to leave at the same time, just not together. What did they talk about? The relative merits of travel by train or plane. They leave, letting her know they’ll be in the observation car in the rear.

As soon as the two dicks have gone, Eve lets Thornhill out from confinement – luckily enough she stole the bed-key from the porter. Thornhill’s sunglasses have broken, but at least his suit got a free press. He wants to know why she’s being so good to him. She offers to climb up and explain.

The Twentieth Century makes her stately progress around a long curve, while two of her passengers are also making progress. Thornhill has told Eve all about the man he was mistaken for and she thinks it safer if he stays in her hotel room in Chicago while she tracks the elusive Kaplan. The talk turns to the romance of homicide, with Eve asking ‘How do I know you aren’t a murderer?’ She doesn’t. What if he’s planning to murder her right now? ‘Shall I?’ he asks. ‘Please do.’ They kiss, with tenderness and passion. They continue to linger in the moment, playful verbal sparring and longing embraces - interrupted by the porter, who has come to make up the bed. Thornhill hides in the tiny bathroom to examine feminine toiletries while Eve hands the porter the key ‘she found’ back. 


Alone again, they resume their love making and Thornhill notes the porter only prepared one bed. Does she know what that means? She does. It means he’ll be sleeping on the floor… The porter, meanwhile is delivering a note ‘From the lady in 3901’. The note reads ‘What do I do with him in the morning?’ and is signed ‘Eve’. The recipients of this message? An amused Vandamm and his man, Leonard. The train rolls on through the night. 


At LaSalle Street Station, the mighty locomotive sits at rest. Eve alights with a Red Cap – Thornhill, who takes her luggage ahead as she stops for the two detectives. Has she seen the man they’re looking for? Mr. Thornycroft? Thornhill. Wishing them luck, she catches up with her bag man, noting they have to run the gauntlet of watchful cops watching the passengers – but not, it seems, the men carrying their luggage. What’s she got in these bags? Bowling balls, naturally…


As they walk along, Thornhill enquires which bag his suit is in. The small one. That ought to do the suit a lot of good. They discuss how to deal with Kaplan; it’s after nine, he may have checked out of his hotel. Thornhill calling from a phone booth in a Red Cap’s uniform might arouse suspicion, she’ll make the call. Where should he change? Marshall Field’s window? She had the men’s room in mind. Did she now? She’s the smartest girl he ever spent the night with on a train. Eve looks askance, aware perhaps of the figures of Vandamm and Leonard on the platform a distance behind.

Thornhill thinks they made it, saying as much – doesn’t he watch the movies? Sure enough, the Red Cap he got the uniform from has alerted the cops and they give chase, leaving the man to count the money Thornhill paid for the outfit. Finding the phoney among all the Red Caps is, however, like finding a grain of salt in your sugar bowl. Grabbing every man they see turns up nothing, but indignant porters and Thornhill’s luck holds in the Men’s Room; he’s just another traveller shaving at the sinks, the foam hiding his face from the searching bulls. 


There’s a light-hearted moment when the man next to him notices he’s using a woman’s razor, before returning to his own ablutions with his cut-throat. Meanwhile, Eve is at one end of a row of pay phone booths, for a discreet briefing with Leonard at the far end. 


She waits for Thornhill while Leonard rejoins his master and they depart. Finally, Thornhill’s finished shaving; what took him so long? Big face, small razor. She hands him written instructions for the meet with Kaplan; he wants to meet in Indianapolis. He’s to take the Greyhound at two, to Prairie Stop, Highway 41. He wants to rent a car, but Eve insists Kaplan wanted to be sure he was alone.

Thornhill notices Eve seems tense (No kidding!) And she warns him the Police will run out of Red Caps soon. Will they see each other again? Some time, she is sure. He never had a moment to thank her properly. She urges him to go; the police are coming. He goes, leaving her looking after him with a look that might be regret.


The wide open spaces of Indianapolis. The sleek silver Greyhound dazzles its way along the endless road to the lonely stop in the middle of the vast expanse of dusty, parched fields. One passenger alights, to stand, utterly alone. 


Thornhill gazes round to see nothing in every direction, save a single plane, which is dusting the crops in the distance. All there is to see is a field of corn, before a Mercury roars past leaving him alone with the dust from its passing.


From the other direction, a Cadillac, perhaps this is Kaplan? That too rolls past the stop. As does a truck, blowing dust over the solitary figure. Then, an old Chevrolet pulls up from beyond the corn, a woman driving. She drops a be-hatted man off at the stop opposite and leaves again. The two men face each other across the asphalt. Finally, Thornhill makes an approach, to find the man’s waiting for his bus. The man in the hat observes the crop duster in the distance, noting some of the pilots get rich – if they live long enough. So, his name’s not Kaplan? ‘Can’t say it is, because it ain’t.’ His bus is here, right on time. Before he goes, he notices something odd. The plane is dusting crops where there aren’t any. Clambering aboard his bus, the hat man leaves Thornhill alone with the dust. 


Finishing it’s drop, the biplane turns and heads in Thornhill’s direction. Right at him – and low! He ducks into the dirt as the propeller slices the air feet above. Had he stayed standing, he would be dead. 


Executing a tight turn, the plane comes around for another pass. Diving into a shallow ditch, Thornhill presses himself into Mother Earth as a hail of bullets strafes inches from him. A passing car offers a glimpse of salvation, but the driver ignores the man frantically waving it down to ride past, as Baron Von Kropdust comes around for another pass, more bullets slamming into the dirt. The cornfield! 


Spotting what might be his only chance, Thornhill runs for it, heading into the cover of the tall crop and ducking down once more. The plane goes around again and the hunted man begins to think he’s safe – until the next pass when he’s bombarded with chemicals, the crop duster dusting both crops and fugitive. Spotting an oil tanker approaching, Thornhill runs back out onto the road and, desperate, stands his ground as he waves in a last ditch effort to escape. Horn blaring and tyres squealing, the heavy vehicle skids to a halt, knocking Thornhill onto his back and coming to a halt above. 


He’s lucky to be alive. Maybe; the plane following him is too low to pull up, smashing into the tanker and instantly exploding into a fireball. 


The tanker’s crew jump out and one of them yells at Thornhill to get out of there; the other tank may blow! The two tanker men run for the dubious safety of the corn field and Thornhill runs back up the road, to where some onlookers have stopped. Helpfully, the small group wants a closer look at the impending explosion, giving Thornhill the opportunity to steal a pickup truck. 


That night, the pickup sits abandoned and Thornhill waits opposite the Ambassador East Hotel, picking his moment to go in. At the reception, he learns that Kaplan checked out at ten past seven that morning. He left a forwarding address; Hotel Sheraton-Johnson, Rapid City South Dakota. Seven-ten? Then how come he got a message from him at nine… He spots Eve getting a paper and watches as she enters an elevator, which goes up to the fourth floor. Thinking quickly, he asks the receptionist for Eve Kendall – She’s on the fourth, but he forgot the number. 463.


Guess who’s surprised to see Roger Thornhill at her door? ‘No getting rid of me, is there?’ Now Thornhill gets a surprise, as she runs to embrace him. He successfully resists the temptation to join in, asking for a scotch, water no ice. While she fixes the drink, he notes the headline on her newspaper; two die as crop-duster plane crashes and burns. Nervously, she asks how the meeting went. Kaplan didn’t show, which he finds funny given her detailed instructions. Why doesn’t he call Kaplan back? He’s in Rapid City. She asks what Thornhill’s plans are, but he hasn’t made his mind up yet. It depends on her, he says proposing a toast. To a lasting friendship – meaning he’s not going to let her out of his sight. She tries to tell him she has plans of her own, but he’s not buying this time. ‘Wouldn't it be nice if my problems and your plans were somehow connected?’ The phone rings and she answers, is given an address to write down on the pad. Suspicious, Thornhill asks if it’s business. Yes, she says. Industrial design business? She tucks the note she made in her purse, making it comfortable alongside the Colt .25 automatic she keeps in there. 


He proposes dinner, but she has a favor to ask; leave and don’t come near her again. They aren’t going to get involved. Last night was last night and that’s all there is. Good luck. No conversation. Just leave. He can’t, but talks her into dinner – He’ll need his suit cleaning first. Calling down for valet service, Thornhill wonders what a man could do with his clothes off in twenty minutes – Eve suggests a cold shower. Eve helps him off with his jacket and the tone turns serious. ‘How does a girl like you get to be a girl like you?’ ‘Lucky I guess.’ ‘Oh Not lucky. Naughty. Wicked. Up to no good. Ever kill anyone? Because I bet you could tease a man to death without half trying. So stop trying, huh?’ He goes to finish undressing as the buzzer goes, handing her his pants. He runs a shower, whistling. Singin' in the Rain. Eve busies herself grabbing some things and makes to sneak out, spotting the photo of Townsend/Vandamm Thornhill left on the side table when he emptied his pockets before leaving Thornhill high and dry. Mainly dry; he hasn’t taken that shower, using it as a ruse. He goes back into the bedroom and does the old pencil trick to reveal the message she wrote on the pad. 1212 N.Michigan 


Dapper once more, Thornhill takes a cab to 1212 North Michigan, home of the Shaw and Oppenheim galleries. 


An auction is underway, Eve seated with Vandamm and his man Leonard – the former caressing Eve’s neck. A pair of gilt chairs go under the hammer – which would be an improvement, then Lot 103, an Aubusson settee. The bidding starts at $800 as Thornhill coldly approaches the trio. ‘The three of you together. Now that’s a picture only Charles Addams could draw.’ 


Vandamm responds by offering a ‘good evening’ to ‘Mr. Kaplan’. Before they start calling each other names, Thornhill says, perhaps he would tell him his? Vandamm is disappointed in him, but he was just going to say that to Eve.

Eve states Thornhill followed her from her hotel. Jealously, Leonard asks her ‘He was in your room?’ to which Thornhill quips ‘Sure, isn’t everybody?’ at this, Vandamm removes his hand from her neck, his gaze cold. Leonard, however notices the auctioneer is now offering a native Mexican statuette, and Vandamm joins the bidding at $500. 


Eying Eve, Thornhill acidly supposes Vandamm paid plenty for this little piece of sculpture. Vandamm goes to $700, but Thornhill pushes the point; she’s worth every dollar, really puts her heart into her work. In fact her whole body. Vandamm wins and is named as the winning bidder. So now Thornhill knows what we know. Has anyone told you that you overplay your various roles rather severely? First, you're the outraged Madison Avenue man who claims he's been mistaken for someone else. Then, you play the fugitive, trying to clear his name of a crime he didn't commit. Now you play the peevish lover - stung by jealousy and betrayal. It seems you fellows could stand less training from the FBI and more from the Actors' Studio.’ Elegantly, Vandamm skewers Thornhill with the observation, but Roger rejoins with ‘Apparently, the only performance that will satisfy you is when I play dead.’ ‘Your very next role. You'll be quite convincing, I assure you.’ Leonard walks past to pay for the statue, his look one of amused menace.


Thornhill wonders what subtle form of manslaughter comes next on the program; is he to be dropped into a vat of molten steel to become part of a new skyscraper? Or is this female going to kiss him again and poison him? It’s too much for Eve, who turns to slap him, but he restrains her, noting ‘Who are you kidding? You have no feelings to hurt.’ As she seats herself again, Vandamm’s look shows he isn’t so sure of that. We see The ProfessorThe Intelligence Chief sitting in the rows of bidders, watching anxiously


Vandamm has had quite enough of Thornhill, so why doesn’t he call the police? Astutely, Thornhill realises that’s the last thing Vandamm wants, him in the hands of the police. There’s something he might tell them – that’s why he had Eve hustle him on the train. Something tells him his best chance of survival is with the police. He bids farewell to Eve and goes to leave, her tears unseen. The sight of the stocky Valerian stops Thornhill, the thug reaching into a pocket significantly. He makes for the stage, seeking a way out, but the whip-thin form of Leonard is there, his piercing gaze never leaving the desperate man. 


With no choice, Thornhill takes a seat as the bidding starts on a painting. An old master. Bidding quickly reaches fifteen hundred, then Thornhill sees Vandamm escort the girl from the saleroom as the painting hits two thousand dollars, then twenty-two fifty. 

Thornhill calls out fifteen hundred. Heads turn as, politely the auctioneer explains the bid is already at twenty-two fifty. Thornhill repeats his bid, so the auctioneer proceeds at twenty-two fifty, once, twice… And Thornhill reduces his offer to twelve hundred. The painting is sold, but Thornhill’s not having it; twenty-two fifty for that chromo? Trying to maintain his composure, the auctioneer moves to the next item in the catalogue, a Louis Quinze carved and gilded lit de repos – a fancy bed to you or I, asking for $750 to start the bids. ‘How do we know it’s not a fake? – it looks like a fake!’ A stir throughout the saleroom, with a lady in front turning to advise Roger he’s genuine – a genuine idiot. He thanks her, politely.

Magnanimously, the harried auctioneer asks if his disruptive bidder could get into the spirit of things, so Thornhill agrees with bids of eight, with the bids rising to twelve hundred. Who’ll say thirteen? Roger Thornhill will. Thirteen dollars. ‘You mean thirteen hundred, sir?’ No, he means thirteen dollars, that’s more than it’s worth. An assistant sidles up to a lady seated at a telephone and mutters something. To Thornhill’s satisfaction it looks like she’s calling the police. Our fancy bed is still worth twelve hundred and it’s going once, twice and last call… two thousand. Thornhill has bid two thousand. The auctioneer is flummoxed, but Thornhill isn’t through. Twenty one hundred! Make it twenty five hundred. By now losing his grip, the auctioneer asks the troublesome bidder for cooperation once more and gets none. Two thousand five hundred, his money’s as good as anyone elses… The sale goes through at twelve hundred, with the auctioneer ignoring Thornhill’s call of three thousand. 


The saleroom is in uproar, with Thornhill quick to his feet to cry foul. An attendant asks him to leave and, spotting the police arriving, Roger throws a punch, felling the unfortunate man. The two fight, but Thornhill is quickly dragged away by the burly cops, still offering three thousand.  


The Professor doesn’t like what he sees and beats a hasty retreat, but as they pass the thug, Thornhill can’t resist a jibe; ‘I’m sorry old man, too bad, keep trying.’ The Professor quickly finds a booth to make an urgent call as, outside, Roger is bundled into a black and white. 


As they roll, Thornhill thanks them for saving his life, but they aren’t interested. He’s going to booked for drunk and disorderly. Chickenfeed! They’ve just hit the jackpot, catching the United Nations killer, Roger Thornhill. He shows the id to prove it to an incredulous cop while the sergeant driving, name of Flamm calls it in on the radio. Positive I.d. on Michigan heading North to 42nd Precinct. Sergeant Flamm can’t believe what he’s hearing, hanging up and turning for the airport. Thornhill doesn’t like where this is going; he wants to go to headquarters – Why else do they think he sent for them? That gets a laugh from Sergeant Flamm; ‘What about this guy Charlie, he sent for us!’ Repeating his demand, Thornhill tries to tell them he’s a dangerous assassin, a mad killer on the loose! Losing patience, Flamm snaps back; ‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself.’ 


Pulling up at Midway airport, the cops take Thornhill to the Northwest terminal, The Professor arriving moments later to collect tickets. Showing the bemused officers his identification, he leads Thornhill away, also bemused. Thornhill didn’t catch his name – because he never pitched it. ‘You're police, aren't you? Or is it FBI?’ ‘FBI, CIA, ONI. We're all in the same alphabet soup.’ Thornhill protests his innocence of the United Nations killing. The Professor knows; but they never interfere with the police, unless absolutely necessary. 


It has become necessary. He urges Thornhill to walk faster, or they’ll miss the plane. They are bound for Rapid City. What for? It’s near Mount Rushmore. Thornhill’s seen Mount Rushmore. But so has Mr. Vandamm. And the ‘treacherous little tramp’ with him? Miss Kendal? They know all about her; Vandamm’s mistress. Thornhill wants to know what Vandamm’s up to. ‘Oh you could say he’s a sort of Importer/Exporter.’ Of what? ‘Oh. Government secrets, perhaps.’ Why not grab him? Too much they still don’t know about his organisation. And Mount Rushmore? He has a place near there; they think it’s his jumping off point to leave the country tomorrow night. Are they going to stop him? No, to set his mind at ease about George Kaplan.

They’ll discuss it on the plane. The nest part of the conversation is drowned out by the storm from the waiting engines, but then Thornhill protests they started this decoy business without him, they can finish it without him. They should give him a medal and a vacation instead of asking him to be a target to his agent doesn’t get shot at. Once found out, The Professor states, their agent is as good as dead. And thanks to him, clouds of suspicion are already forming. Thornhill protests he’s an advertising man, not a red herring! With a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders dependent upon him and he doesn't intend to disappoint them by getting himself slightly killed! His answer is no, a final one. The Professor shakes his hand in goodbye, before mentioning that Miss Kendall did what she had to do to protect herself. From what? Exposure and assassination. She’s one of our agents. Thornhill is aghast; what has he done?

Mount Rushmore, that imposing edifice known throughout the world as ‘We came all this way for this?’ - Sorry, we mean ‘Majestic representations of four dead Presidents’ looms large in the telescope Thornhill is viewing it through from the Memorial View Building. 


Turning to The Professor, who is perusing his paper, Thornhill asks ‘Supposing they don’t come?’ ‘They’ll come.’ Thornhill doesn’t like the way Teddy Roosevelt is looking at him. ‘Perhaps he's trying to give you one last word of caution, Mr. Kaplan. "Speak soft and carry a big stick."


Thornhill/Kaplan isn’t keen on the scheme, but The Professor dryly observes had he not made himself so attractive to Miss Kendall, she wouldn’t have lost her head over him and been placed in such danger now. It was obvious to Vandamm last night she’d become emotionally involved, worst of all with a man he believes to be a government agent. Thornhill spots Vandamm’s party, just arrived in a Lincoln Continental convertible. Instantly, The Professor makes himself scarce and Thornhill goes into the cafeteria for a coffee, finding an empty table as Vandamm etc enter. 


With obvious reluctance, Vandamm bids ‘Mr. Kaplan’ a good afternoon, but Thornhill wants rid of the girl, so she leaves, the sinister presence that is Leonard watching from an adjacent table. Alone, so to speak, Vandamm asks if he misunderstood about bringing Eve. They’ll get to that later, says Thornhill; he supposes Vandamm was surprised to get his call. Not at all, he knew the Police would release him. Clearly this only confirmed his suspicion ‘Kaplan’ is a government man. He complements ‘Kaplan’ on his colorful exit from the auction house. What drama are they in for today?

Perhaps he’d be interested in the price just the same? The price? For doing nothing to stop him. Thornhill’s Kaplan is a corrupt agent, it seems. How much did he have in mind? He wants the girl. That gets a reaction; Vandamm’s face drops like shares in a crisis, but ‘Kaplan’ persists; he wants the girl to get what’s coming to her. Glancing over to see The Professor just happens to be standing beside her, he states he’ll see there’s enough pinned on her to keep her uncomfortable for the rest of her life. If he does that, he’ll look the other way tonight. Vandamm observes ‘She really did get under your skin, didn’t she?’ ‘We’re not talking about my skin – we’re talking about yours, I’m offering you a chance to save it.’ Somewhat disingenuously, Vandamm asks what makes him deduce his feelings for Eve have deteriorated to the point he’d exchange her for peace of mind? Coolly, ‘Agent Kaplan’ responds he doesn’t deduce, he observes.

Eve comes over to Vandamm, calling him by his first name. Phillip. If he doesn’t mind, she’s going back to the house. Phillip minds – jumping up to take her by the arm and waving his faithful retainer over. They make to leave, but Thornhill has other ideas, moving quickly to seize her by the wrist. ‘Just a second you.’ 


She hisses at him to stay away, then tells him to let go of her. They are causing a scene, Vandamm starts after her, but Leonard restrains him, anxious to keep his master out of this. ‘Stay away from me! Let go!’ The whole cafeteria is watching the drama now as Thornhill drags Eve away, telling her to save the phoney tears. 


Reaching into her purse, she pulls out her pistol. ‘Why you little fool!’ ‘You just stay away from me!’ BLAM! She shoots Thornhill in the stomach, BLAM! Another! He falls, dead to the floor as the patrons scream and pandemonium ensues. Again Leonard restrains Vandamm; he can’t get involved in this. The Professor pushes through the horrified crowd to attend to the casualty as, outside, Eve flees in the Lincoln, watched in her flight by the disapproving stone eyes above and a few onlookers who gave chase to the murderess. Back in the cafeteria, Leonard watches from amongst the throng as The Professor shakes his head. Agent Kaplan is no more.

The body is loaded into an ambulance by Park Rangers, The Professor accompanying the body. Oddly, it is driven into some nearby woods, where The Professor lets the corpse out for some air. And to meet the woman who murdered it. Eve is standing, beaming by the Lincoln. The Professor cautions them not to be long. 


They exchange ‘Hello’s and she tells Thornhill she asked The Professor if she could see him again. There isn’t much time. She wanted to tell him, to apologize. ‘Oh no need. I understand. All in the line of duty.’ He used some harsh words, for which he’s sorry. They hurt her deeply. She was worried he was hurt when he fell, after being shot with the blanks. He did it gracefully, considering it’s not his line of work. He got into it by accident – and her? She met Phillip Vandamm at a party one night and saw only charm. She had nothing better to do, so fell in love. The Professor approached her with the sordid details about Vandamm. So she became a Girl Scout? Sadly, she says ‘Maybe it’s the first time anyone ever asked me to do anything worthwhile.’ Has Life really been like that? It has. How come? ‘Men like you.’ And what’s wrong with men like him? They don’t believe in marriage. He’s been married twice. ‘See what I mean?’ He jokes he may go back to hating her; it’s more fun, but she draws him closer for a kiss. She has to go, to convince them she took the long route back to the house to avoid a tail. 


He’s finding it hard to let go, but The Professor jabs the horn of the ambulance impatiently. He walks her back to the car, telling her after this business they are going to do a lot of apologizing to each other in private. That can’t be – The Professor has told him, hasn’t he? The man himself is there, checking his watch anxiously. What he didn’t tell Thornhill is Eve is going on that plane with Vandamm. He needn’t tell him how valuable she would be ‘over there.’

Thornhill is furious; The Professor lied to him and he won’t let him go through with this! She has to, says The Professor. Nobody has to do anything! He doesn’t like the games The Professor plays.

In turmoil, a tearful Eve dashes to the Lincoln, but Thornhill rushes over to try to stop her. The Professor waves one of the ‘Park Rangers’ over and Thornhill feels a tap on his shoulder, just before he collects an overhand right that sends him crashing to the forest floor. Eve drives off to complete her mission.

Pacing his hospital room impatiently in a towel (He wasn't hit that hard, but it's essential the 'deceased' isn't seen as 'unceased') Thornhill listens to the radio news report of his shooting. Kaplan was taken in in critical condition, tentatively identified as an employee of the Federal Government. He tries his door, but he’s locked in. The Professor unlocks and enters, bearing gifts; clothes. They’ll do for round here, for the next couple of days. The next couple of days? The Professor notices the ugly bruise on Thornhill’s side, from where he hit the chair in the cafeteria. 


Otherwise all right? Otherwise, considering his driver has a sledgehammer right. The Professor apologises for that, but Thornhill feels he deserved it, plus the locked door. The intelligence chief says if he were seen in good health it would jeopardise Miss Kendall. Oh her? He’s begun to forget her already. The Professor misses the obvious lie, opining it’s better that way; inside an hour she’ll be gone. Thornhill dresses himself quickly. And how are things in Rapid City? Everything’s fine; word of Kaplan’s shooting has made the papers, everyone has cooperated beautifully. ‘Now you can include me’ Thornhill adds, but he wants a favour in return. Bourbon, a pint. The Professor wonders if he can join him. Make it a quart then…

No sooner has The Professor gone, than Thornhill goes for the door. Locked again! Going to the window, he climbs out onto the ledge, edging his way nimbly to the next room only for the light to come on, the blond patient in bed startled, then delighted by the intruder. Seeing the hungry look in her eyes, he admonishes her with a wag of the finger before departing.

The cab traverses the winding roads leading to Mount Rushmore and the cabbie drops Thornhill off at the gates to a modern house, almost something Frank Lloyd Wright could have conjured perched atop the hill.  


Thornhill didn’t break free from hospital to admire the architecture though, going up the earthen drive to find a way in. To the wolf’s lair. Catching a glimpse of Leonard and Vandamm himself as a curtain is drawn in the living room. 


Scrambling along the granite between the cantilevers supporting the property he sees an ominous sight; the landing lights of a makeshift air strip winking on and off. 


A signal of some kind? A test? He climbs up for a better vantage point and sees a Ford roll into the courtyard. From this emerges Valerian, the goon that knifed Townsend, to be met at the door by the hausfrau that greeted Thornhill at Townsend’s Glen Cove home. Thornhill can see in through a window of the living space; the goon has handed Vandamm a newspaper, Eve is there, standing distracted pulling at a handkerchief nervously. Needing a closer look, Thornhill plays Tarzan, swinging himself up onto one of the steel cantilever beams and monkeying upwards.

Inside, Thornhill can see and hear as Vandamm consoles Eve, who says she lost her head. She has nothing to worry about, ‘Kaplan’ wants to destroy her and she protected herself. Soon, they will be together and he will dedicate himself to her happiness. Leonard is pacing the opulent room, cigarette in hand, like a watchful panther. Vandamm asks for a report; Leonard informs him the plane was last over Whitestone. Six thousand feet and descending. Ten minutes, at most. 


He asks for a few words of parting with his superior, to which Vandamm is agreeable. In private. Taking the hint, Eve goes upstairs for her things. The statue from the auction room stands between the two men, silent, ugly, sinister.  


‘Well Leonard, how does one say ‘goodbye’ to one’s right arm?’ Waiting to hear the bedroom door close first, Leonard replies ‘In your case Sir I’m afraid you’re going to wish you’d cut it off sooner.’ Hands in pockets, Vandamm signals for Leonard to continue. He does, stating he knows how terribly fond he is of Miss Kendall, but the two walk away and Thornhill struggles to hear the conversation.

A light upstairs alerts the crouching eavesdropper to the sight of Eve, alone in the bedroom. Quickly, Thornhill fishes a coin from his pocket and tosses it to ching against the window. A second and, curious, she goes out onto the balcony. Thornhill makes to call to her, but Leonard has also heard the noises, striding across to investigate. Dismissing the incident, Leonard seats himself near to the window, concealing a small Colt automatic behind him as he continues:

Vandamm is scornful; he’s heard nothing but innuendos. Call it my woman’s intuition says his subordinate, but he’s never trusted neatness and it’s all too neat for him. Vandamm holds that Eve shot ‘Kaplan’ in a moment of fear and anger. Standing, pistol held behind his back, Leonard expands on his suspicions; and she wrapped everything up in a neat and tidy bundle. A: She removed any doubts he might have had, about – what did he call it, her devotion? And B: She gave herself an urgent reason to be taken over to the other side with him. Laughingly, Vandamm dismisses his henchman’s doubts as jealousy. He’s very touched, but then Leonard levels the pistol. ‘Leonard?’ BAMM! At that range, he couldn’t miss.  


With their unseen guest still watching the drama, Vandamm’s horror is evident as Leonard explains it’s the gun she ‘shot’ Kaplan with. He found it in her luggage. An old Gestapo trick – shoot one of your own to show you aren’t one of them. They’ve just freshened it up a bit with blank cartridges. Furious, Vandamm punches Leonard, who sprawls into a chair in shock.

Vandamm seems to be in more pain than just sore knuckles, as Eve emerges from the bedroom to enquire what the noise was. Casually, Vandamm tells her he and Leonard were wondering the same, hurrying her along. It’s almost time to leave. 


Leonard has a question ‘You’re not taking her on that plane with you?’ ‘Of course I am. Like our friends, I, too, believe in neatness, Leonard. This matter is best disposed of from a great height… (NB; the camera angle tilts down sharply here, for emphasis) over water.’ Still dropping at the eaves, a horrified Thornhill realises he has to warn Eve!

On hands and knees, Thornhill shimmies along the ledge to the dressed stone wall of the house, climbing agilely up and across to the bedroom where Eve is finishing her packing, unaware of the terrible fate awaiting her. He’s too late; she’s already downstairs with her case, Vandamm suggesting some champagne before they go. Standing in the darkened bedroom, Thornhill wonders how he can warn her, noting his hands are bloodied from the sharp climb he takes out his handkerchief to clean them. The initials ‘R.O.T.’ provide inspiration – and he takes out his match book and a handy pencil to scribble a warning inside it.


Downstairs, Vandamm hands Eve a glass and clinks his in a toast; to her and all the lovely moments they’ve shared. The sound of aero engines alerts Leonard; the plane is here. Helpfully for Thornhill, Vandamm goes to join him, inviting his henchman to a glass. There isn’t time. Seizing his chance Thornhill takes aim and tosses the match book, missing to hit the floor, unnoticed. 


Appallingly, Leonard saunters over to Eve to tell her it would please him if she thought of him as being along on the journey – if only in spirit. Leonard spots the match book! And carelessly tosses it into the ashtray on the table. Leonard offers commentary on the pilot’s maneuvering as Eve notices the match book, opening it to discover the message.

The two rejoin Eve, the plane should be wheels-down in three minutes. She says she’s left her ear rings upstairs, she’ll be right down. In the bedroom, Thornhill tells her they can escape through the window – there’s a car downstairs. She is indignant at first, but he tells her about Leonard finding the gun, the blanks and the microfilm in the statue. ‘That’s how he’s been getting it!’ she says, presumably referring to the secrets Vandamm trades in. Upstairs himself, Leonard calls out for her and she hurries back out, with Thornhill hissing at her not to get on that plane.

Taking hold of the precious statuette, Vandamm reassures Anna, the frumpy housekeeper that she and her husband will be over the Canadian border by morning. The group goes to the door, with Vandamm instructing Anna not to leave until the plane has departed. She wishes her employer a safe journey, before going to tidy up the glasses the travellers left behind. Thornhill creeps along the mezzanine, but the housekeeper spots his reflection in the television set, leaving the room calmly. As he sneaks downstairs, Thornhill is stopped in his tracks by Anna, now holding a rather familiar Colt automatic. She sits herself down and orders him to follow suit on the stairs. ‘As soon as the plane leaves, my husband and Mister Leonard will be back.’

Leonard close behind, Vandamm escorts Eve towards the landing strip as the plane itself finally touches down. Eve is visibly anxious, for good reason, glancing back at the house. Vandamm notices. She says she’s worried about her ear rings. He’s sure they’ll turn up. 


Vandamm instructs Leonard to call in on his sister when he returns to New York. Valerian carries the luggage aboard, Eve looks back once more as Vandamm continues; he is to thank her for her performance as ‘Mrs. Townsend’ and reassure his ‘knife-throwing chum’ that he has reassured his wife. Eve is at the door of the plane when it happens; two gunshots, clear over the noise of the idling motors. Thornhill dashes from the house to the parked Ford and Eve snatches the statuette from Vandamm’s grasp, making a run for it. Leonard and Valerian run after her as Thornhill arrives, Eve jumping into the car for Thornhill to speed off. As he drives, he explains the housekeeper had him pinned down for five minutes until he realized it was that silly gun of hers, adding ‘I see you’ve got the pumpkin.’

They make it as far as the gate, which is locked and chained. With Leonard and Valerian closing down the driveway, they are forced to flee through some woodland, their pursuers conveniently equipped with flashlights. It’s as if they knew… 


Eve’s long scarf snags on a bush and vital seconds are lost freeing her, the two men splitting up to find them. The two fugitives break from the woods to find they are atop Mount Rushmore itself, the backs of the gigantic granite heads showing them their error in the starkest possible terms. They are trapped, their pursuers closing inexorably from either side. 


Thornhill urges Eve onward, onto Thomas Jefferson himself. It’s a long way down, Eve asking what they will do. Climb down. They have no choice, gingerly setting down the carved rock face of, well - carved rock faces, Thornhill clutching the statuette, Eve her purse. They hang from the precipice between the watchful Presidents Washington and Jefferson as, above, the henchmen continue their search in vain.

Neither Leonard or Valerian are stupid, however and they clamber down to pursue the couple. As they hang there over the giddy void, Thornhill finds time for a joke; ‘If we ever get out of this alive – let’s go back to New York on the train together, alright?’ Wryly, Eve asks ‘Is that a proposition?’ ‘It’s a proposal, sweetie.’ She asks what happened to the first two marriages. His wives divorced him. Why? He thinks they said he led too dull a life… 


Eve’s shoe breaks and she falls, clutching at Thornhill, ripping his pants pocket on the way down. She lands on another ledge, hardly any bigger than the first and her companion anxiously makes his way down to her as she nurses her arm, injured in the fall. Exhausted, she clings to him for comfort and he assist her, but the two chasers are making their way down their respective Presidents. Leonard, however falls from the overhang down which he was climbing, dropping his torch and then himself, crashing down and sliding down an outcrop to land on a rocky shelf in agony. Eve and Thornhill are faring little better, having reached an impassable section; to either side sheer drops – and worse, the figure of Leonard is heading their way from what might have been the only way out. With nothing for it, but to flee, the pair head across the stonework, Eve in her stockinged feet. One slip and they are done for. 


As they go, they pass Valerian, standing in wait. Eve spots him and screams as he launches himself at Thornhill, the two men crashing down the slope together, a wicked curved knife in the thug’s hand, flashing cruelly. Below them, the Memorial View Building looks like an architect’s model, such is their height.

Desperately, with his last ounce of strength, Thornhill gives Valerian a shove and sends him screaming to his death. He’s only just landed… But no time for crap jokes! Leonard has caught up with them and is wrestling Eve for the statuette. To Thornhill’s horror, he pushes her over the edge and she hangs by her fingertips over thin air. Climbing down to her, Thornhill reaches out to grab her hand, the inch of rock her feet rested on giving way. 


She has nothing left and Thornhill’s other hand, supporting them both is slipping. Leonard stands above them, watching, holding the precious statuette. In desperation, Thornhill appeals to Leonard, asking for help. In response, the killer comes forward to stand on his fingers, cruelly enjoying the couple’s predicament. A shot rings out and the statuette falls to the rock, smashing into fragments… and Leonard’s body topples over the side to join his colleague far below.

Atop the monument, The Professor thanks the police sergeant who fired the shot, the captive Vandamm remarking it wasn’t very sporting, using real bullets. 


Thornhill tells Eve to reach; he’s got her. She can’t make it! ‘Yes you can.’


‘Come along, Mrs. Thornhill.’ The scene changes and we are aboard a train, with Thornhill pulling Eve up onto the top bunk of their compartment. 


‘Oh Roger, this is silly’ ‘I know, but I’m sentimental.’ Alone at last, the newly-weds kiss as the train enters a tunnel…


Cary Grant with Alfred Hitchcock - later Sir. Alfred.

If you never see this film, you have Volcano Cat’s pity; but you must at least view those wonderful titles. See them here; https://www.artofthetitle.com/title/north-by-northwest/


James Mason and Eva Marie Saint in a playful moment on set. (The rope was to preserve continuity)

One of the joys of any Hitchcock is the Director’s cameo; Hitchcock pops up delightfully and playfully in all sorts of unexpected moments; here, of course, he is the unlucky commuter missing his bus at the end of the opening credits.

Alfred Hitchcock at an airport gift counter, September 12, 1958. Note the sign above! Alfred Hitchcock papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

As they escape, Thornhill notes Eve has ‘the pumpkin’ - the statuette with the microfilm. This is a reference to the Alger Hiss case of 1948, in which rolls of film relating to an espionage case had been hidden in a hollowed-out pumpkin.

Wardrobe Tests for Eve Marie Saint's character.
Cary Grant was doubled for some stunts by the famous stuntman Sol Gorss (1908-1966)

At the train station in Chicago, Thornhill quips about changing in Marshall Field’s window; Marshall Field’s was a famous department store, later a chain in Chicago that was bought out by Macy’s in 2005.

Shooting on location.

The ‘O’ in Roger Thornhill’s name standing for nothing is a joke; Hitchcock’s friend David O. Selznick added the middle initial to his own name as he felt it sounded more impressive.

'The Red Carpet treatment'; today, a generic term for VIP treatment, but the legendary 20th Century Limited famously had a red carpet for it's passengers to direct them to their train.

North By Northwest is not a cardinal point on any compass; speculation abounds as to the origin and meaning, including a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but a likely candidate would be that in an early draft, the action was to go from New York to Alaska, North-Westerly in effect, but Hitchcock himself dismissed such debate in 1963; "It's a fantasy. The whole film is epitomized in the title—there is no such thing as north-by-northwest on the compass." 


How do we know this image (Complete with added MGM Lion) was taken at the time of production? See below;

Only two MGM movies were made with the VistaVision process; the other being High Society (1956)

In her train compartment, Eve is seen reading a book titled ‘The Agreeable Age’. This is not a real novel, but was created as a prop.

Filming the iconic crop-duster scene, with a sheet to protect the microphone from dust and grit.

The Crop Duster scene was actually filmed in California, on the Garces Highway.

At the ‘United States Intelligence Agency’, the edition of The Evening Star shows it to be Tuesday, November 25 1958, but rather oddly beneath the paper’s masthead it reads ‘WITH SUNDAY MORNING EDITION’ - This was, however, an accurate representation of the actual newspaper – Even the other items on the front page were taken from the Star’s edition of the day itself. Cheekily perhaps, a story titled ‘4 Flee Blaze in Northwest’ seems to be fictional, possibly a nod to the film’s title.


The climactic scenes were filmed with a massive Cyclorama, as well as a physical set on impressive scale.

The opening credits by Saul Bass were the first major use of kinetic type in a motion picture. The MGM lion features against a green background specifically to enable a smooth segue into these titles.

A Concept painting for the Vandamm house, signed 'JJ'

Vandamm’s rather exquisite house is, alas, a figment of the imagination; no such house existed, a combination of matte paintings and interior scenes filmed on set at Culver City. People have often mistaken this for a Frank Lloyd Wright creation; one giveaway this is not so is the cantilever design supporting the living space; Lloyd Wright would never have used such a device.

The UN refused to let filming take place at their headquarters, so Hitchcock had Grant walk up the stairs being filmed covertly. As he goes up the stairs, an older man stops and does a double-take, presumably surprised to see a famous movie star there.

The breathtaking overture by Bernard Hermann was originally written for the ‘drunk driver’ sequence; in a cheeky nod to this, Hermann titled the reprise “On the Rocks!” This and much more Volcano Cat gleaned here; https://www.wisemusicclassical.com/work/59642/North-by-Northwest-Overture-Decca-records-version--Bernard-Herrmann/

Thornhill tells Eve he wants to rent a car from Chicago; though how America’s Most Wanted thinks he can do this without showing I.D is anyone’s idea.

Eve has a rendezvous at 1212 N. Michigan. There is no 1212 North Michigan address in Chicago.

Continuity is not this film’s strongest point; among the more obvious errors here are the knife in Thornhill’s hand switching position at the UN, Thornhill writes a message in a matchbook with some matches missing, but it suddenly becomes intact when Eve reads it, plus the message has gone from three lines to four. In the MT Rushmore sequence, Eve rips a pocket in Thornhill’s pants, only for it to repair itself magically… And so on. One notable example is Thornhill’s suit changing colour in the crop duster scene as Grant simply adored well-tailored clothes and couldn’t bear to see a fine suit ruined. Volcano Cat approves, being a lover of all things sartorial.

Perhaps the most famous Hitch 'Cock-Up' – certainly the most endearing in North by Northwest comes in the Mount Rushmore cafeteria scene, a small boy puts his fingers in his ears as, clearly, he knows there’s going to be a loud bang. He's in the image below, at right.


There seem to be some rather wobbly trees near Mount Rushmore; in the scene where the ambulance takes Thornhill’s ‘corpse’ into the woods, one especially sways alarmingly, revealing it to be as fake as his death. 


1960'S Japanese STB Poster

Australian Daybill for the 1966 re-release

A magnificent banner, 24x82 inches in dimension

Belgian poster

A French 'Grande' poster, 47.25x62.75 inches in dimension

A French Grande poster from 1982

A Half Sheet Poster, Style 'B' 22x28 inches in dimension

Italian Folio for the 1976 re-release

Italian Locandina

Japanese B2 poster

Lobby Card Set.

A style 'Y' Poster, 40x60 inches

The Images below, also from the fine people at Heritage Auctions, HA.com are incredible; a unique collection from the Estate of Martin Landau. 


Below: Some pages from Martin Landau's copy of the shooting script.

If this isn't enough for the Hitchcock fans out there, well... Heritage Auctions, HA.com are always full of surprises... Such as Alfred Hitchcock's contract!

Above and Below: Storyboards for the 'Drunk Driver' sequence.

Studio Publicity Stills 

Where better to end our review than with an autographed caricature by Alfred Hitchcock himself?

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