North By Northwest (1959)
Genre: Adventure Mystery Thriller
Starring: Cary Grant (An Affair To Remember; Notorious), Eva Marie Saint (Superman Returns; Exodus)
Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (Marnie; The Birds)
Acting: Cary's flair and style in this role is just perfect bang on. My favorite scenes were the ones that were the most outrageously played by Cary, not those full of suspense. I was impressed with the performance so much that I get the feeling this role was written specifically for him. And a pretty nice leading lady to boot!
Cinematography: Well here's where a lot of the fame came from. That fantastic scene out in the middle of nowhere with the crop-duster, the tension-building drunk-driving scene at the beginning, and the classic Mount Rushmore climax are just the tip of the iceberg for the visual afficionado. I think you'll find that more than anything, the constant air of suspense due to terrific editing keeps the dramatic at the high end of the spectrum.
Script: It's not all grit and hard-boiled dialogue. We have a main character with a dysfunctional mother, situations that if they weren't dangerous would be hilarious, and a fantastic scene where the wisecracking Grant who, seeing imminent danger, decides to protect himself at an auction by making a complete ass of himself in public. It's really nice to have dialogue that's a little different rather than all plot and circumstance, which this film explains wonderfully as well.
Plot: The story opens up with Cary Grant all proud and successful getting bamboozled into a situation he has no control over. From there, the whole first half of the film is his trying to weasel his way out of something he doesn't even understand. Finally, we, the audience figure out that someone trying to kill him with a crop duster might just have an interesting reason to do it. A nice multi-layered tale of paranoia made truth.
Mood: I saw an interview with Hitchcock where he made every attempt to shatter the Film Noir stereotypes in that scene with the crop-duster in the field (picture above). Hitch smugly described how he did the exact opposite thing that a Film Noir would do, while still keeping all the panache of the suspense style. North By Northwest is considered one of the best film classics ever made, and that drawn-out scene is well worth the whole thing. Suspense and thrill is really all over this movie, and though pigeonholed into certain things, most likely for the audiences of the era, this is a refreshing thriller indeed, and worthy of its status.
Aftertaste: Girlfriend of Squish has implied that she didn't like this one due to the fact that the film had this particularly strange feel of cockiness. I attribute that solely to Cary Grant, because he's always been a cocky guy in Hitchcockian film. Big cocky. Cocky till the cows come home. Cock-tastic even.
Yep. As for me, I loved it. Real memorable.