North by Northwest

1959 | Drama | 136 minutes | English


This is a classic Hitchcock film about mistaken identity. Roger Thornhill is an advertising executive who by sheer coincidence is mistaken to be George Kaplan, an operative for a government intelligence agency. Thugs from a mysterious organization, headed by Phillip Vandamm, kidnap him, thinking he’s George Kaplan and has microfilm containing government secrets. Thornhill has no information to give Vandamm because, as he explains, he’s not Kaplan. Vandamm doesn’t buy it so he forces whiskey down Thornhill’s throat, has his thugs put him behind the steering wheel in a car, and hopes he will drive off the road and kill himself. By chance, a police car pulls over Thornhill and hauls him to the police station for drunk driving. The government agency realizes that Thornhill has been mistaken but decides against rescuing him for fear of compromising their operation. Kaplan is a nonexistent agent they created to thwart Vandamm. Thornhill escapes police custody and boards the 20th Century Limited to Chicago. On board, he meets Eve Kendall, who hides him from the police in her compartment. Thornhill encounters many harrowing episodes as he tries to avoid Vandamm’s thugs. His last episode is at Mount Rushmore. He and Eve have gotten close and are now both being pursued. They are in mortal danger. Thornhill must find a way of escaping from their deadly pursuers. 

Cary Grant (Roger Thornhill) / Eva Marie Saint (Eve Kendall) / James Mason (Phillip Vandamm)
Why Stream This Film?
It received 4 stars out of 4 in Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide. Maltin cited North by Northwest to be one of the all-time great entertainments.
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 99%
  • Metacritic Score: 98
  • Academy Awards: Nominated, Best Screenplay (Ernest Lehman)
  • Directors Guild of America: Nominated, Best Director (Alfred Hitchcock)
  • National Board of Review: Listed, Top Ten Films
  • Edgar Allan Poe Awards: Winner, Best Film
  • The film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress as being culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.
A packed audience at the preview loved every  moment of this cliff-hanging Alfred Hitchcock thriller. But Hitchcock is such a master of suspense that not many frames have passed before the audience has achieved complete identification with the characters and knowing the thrill of vicarious fear and the shared pleasures of love and passion. This film is pure entertainment.
Jack Moffitt

The Hollywood Reporter

NORTH BY NORTHWEST is a suspenseful and delightful Cook’s Tour of some of the most photogenic spots in the United States. With Mr. Hitchcock at the helm, it’s a colorful and exciting route for spies, counterspies, and lovers. It is all done in a brisk, genuinely witty, and sophisticated style.
A.H. Weiler

The New York Times

One of Hitchcock’s very best comic thrillers, NORTH by NORTHWEST features scene after unforgettable scene.
Marjorie Baumgarten

Austin Chronicle

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