Hey folks, Valkor here. As much as I enjoy sittin through modern day, cutting edge, cgi-fest, action packed, bone chilling, and cheese injected filmage; I occasionally like to take it back a ways and sit through some of the classics. This next piece was actually my first time watching "North by NorthWest: 50th Anniversary Edition", a Alfred Hitchcock film, and I admit it will not be the last. Thanks to the folks at Warner Home, we don't just get a classic film, but one that's been spruced up well enough to be new. Read on.
North By NorthWest tells the story of Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant), an Ad man whom has a way with words, is one day abducted at gunpoint by a couple of thugs in a case of mistaken identity. The thugs take him to a mansion resided by Philip Vandamm (James Mason - for the time being Thornhill thinks his name is Lester Townsend). Vandamm tells Roger they (His group) know that he is a spy known as "George Kaplan" and wants to know why and how Kaplan knows so much about his "organization. Roger tries to argue his case, but seeing as he may be a spy with good credentials, Vandamm doesn't let up and insists that Roger is Kaplan. Vandamm eventually lets Roger go, but in such a way that if he goes to the cops they won't believe his story. And that's when things do pick up, as it becomes a cross country game of cat and mouse which takes us to the crop dusting fields outside of Chicago, to the picturesque Mt. Rushmore; Roger wants to know who this Townsend guy is and why he thinks he's this George Kaplan, Vandamm wants to Roger/Kaplan done with, and the police want Roger because they think he killed a U.N. Official. Along the way Roger meets up with a woman named Eve (Eva Marie Saint), who helps him avoid the cops, but what's her story? To tell anymore would give away most of the plot and believe me you'll want to know how it ends. Not one of the greatest endings, mind you but it's pretty good. Speaking of "good"…
First and foremost, I loved the plot behind the film, I thought it was brilliant and it really keeps you guessing. The level of suspense is also pretty high on the "edge of your seat" meter. Also the pacing is spot on, as everything move briskly from one scene to the next that there's never any real slow down; even that love scene between Grant and Saint Maries has its own quickness to it. Cary Grant does a wonderful performance as Roger Thornhill; his dialogue is witty, charming with a bit of sarcasm and a touch of humor. Even in the face of danger, you can't help but chuckle at some of his lines. But it's the dialogue between himself and Eva Marie Saint that's just… dare I say it… its very provocative and very, very sexy, yet at the same time they don't actually do anything but kiss. But I ask any man (or woman) to watch the scenes between Roger and Eve and NOT be turned on. Next would be the restoration of the film, which is so beautiful; it just looks so damn good. Though I've never watched the film, I do recall that it was in black and white (But I could be wrong). Here we get the film in full color, and it doesn't look cheap!! Everything is sharp and crystal clear, brights are bright and darks are dark, everything just fits so perfectly; so definite plus points on the restoration. Finally, though it's rare that I talk about such things, but I have to mention the score of the film by Bernard Herrmann, which you may also watch the film with just the music. A Great story, great actors, great music, and a great DVD.
I'm not a big fan of the extras. I find them to be more fluff than anything else. If you're looking for some insight into the film, then it's a definite watch, but there's just too much praising going on for me. Also the ending I'm not exactly fond of. Don't get me wrong I think it ends perfectly, but to abrupt for my taste.
Cary Grant: A Class Apart – A look at the life and career of Cary Grant. It's a good insight into such a great actor.
The Master's Touch: Hitchcock Signature style – Directors William Friedkin, Guillermo Del Toro, John Carpenter, Francis Lawrence, and others talk about Hitchcock's style in filming.
Destination Hitchcock: The Making of North By Northwest - Hosted by Eva Marie Saint, gives you a behind the scene look at Hitchcock's life, and what went to the film from the writing to the actors, locales, etc.
North by Northwest: One For The Ages – This takes the same directors in "The Master's Touch" and brings them together again, breaking down the film and some of its famous scenes.
It used to be that if anyone asked me what my favorite Hitchcock film was, I'd always answer - " Strangers on a Train", easy. But after watching North by Northwest, I'd have to say this is Hitchcock's best film hands down, and I highly recommend this version of the film to anyone who hasn't watched it, but also to anyone who because the restoration of the film is phenomenal. Out of TOV 5 stars I give Hitchcock's North by Northwest a perfect 5 and it's been Valkor tested and TOV Approved.