North by Northwest (PG) - 1959 - Runtime: 131 minutes
Starring: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
I have been wanting to see this movie for some time. The plane chase sequence in the cornfields of Indiana is one of the most iconic scenes in cinema. So I had to check it out - I've enjoyed for the most part, Hitchcock's movies and this one is a good one, although it's not nearly as perfect as some make it out to be.
Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a man who gets caught up in a case of mistaken identity. He's subsequently kidnapped and almost killed by a gang of mysterious men. He travels across the U.S. in search of answers and is helped along the way by a beautiful blonde bombshell (Eva Marie Saint). You won't know exactly what's going on half the time - but it's a fun ride.
And although I enjoyed most of the picture, I do think there's quite a few absurd and ridiculous moments in the film that don't quite make it a classic in my mind. First of all, the evil men don't seem so menacing, in fact, they seem very civilized - the only time I feared for Roger's life was him being chased by that plane. Every other moment of peril seemed not so life threatening as I think the moviemakers wanted it to be. So despite the adventure, there were few life hanging in the balance thrills to be had. Secondly, the climax of the movie takes place on top of Mount Rushmore. Really? The bad guy's "lair" is this huge sprawling ranch on top of the mountain with its own runway! I'm pretty sure most of that space is national park area - so this seemed straight out of a Bond movie (before Bond was ever made!). The final chase takes place on the faces of Lincoln, Jefferson and the rest of the gang. It's a bit too much. But I guess you have to suspend disbelief on a lot of the movie - after all, this is a huge, blockbuster adventure movie, so it makes sense - but some of it is a bit goofy.
But I thoroughly enjoyed the movie - it's fun and you're taken along for the ride - which is what these movies should do. I just wouldn't put it up there as one of the 100 best of all time.
Rating: Rent It!