North By Northwest

Year: 1959
Studio: MGM
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Martin Landau, Edward Platt
Another later Hitchcock classic, the entire question 'what's happening' driving the story from start to finish.

In one of cinema's great stories of mistaken identity, mild mannered advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Grant) is taken from the bar where he's meeting some business associates and manhandled by two heavies who take him to the stately mansion of the mysterious Vandamm (Mason).

Force fed a bottle of bourbon by the goons who mean to let him go in his car and run him off the road in a set-up drunk driving crash, Thornhill instead gets away, spending the night in the slammer and living to tell the cops his incredulous story.

When he goes to see the man who's identity Vandamm has assumed to get to the bottom of the mess and watches him get murdered in the middle of a packed room, Thonrhill is left looking like the killer. He flees, trying to stay one step ahead of the police and meeting sexy stranger Eve (Saint) on the train.

After a night of hysterical flirtation and the sort of innuendo that would get you slapped or sued nowadays, they spend the night together and Eve looks to be helping deliver Roger to safety but isn't all she seems either.

The whole cover is blown in a sequence midway through the film, Hitch apparently thinking it's better we find out at that point what's going on and just enjoy the chase than keep guessing until the end. In hindsight it would have been better left until the end, the maguffin blown and the rest of the film feeling a little like a generic chase with no more surprises.

Crisscrossing the country by various forms of transport and trying to stay hidden, Thornhill is buzzed by a crop duster in the brilliant and iconic sequence that encapsulates the whole movie and ends up dangling off Mount Rushmore with the heavies after him.

Many people read themes into a lot of Hitchcock's work, but this is his most unabashedly entertaining film. It's a love story, a chase thriller and has elements of comedy Hitchcock had only hinted at in most films, so watch for his cameo as ever and enjoy.

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