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Author Topic: North By Northwest (1959)  (Read 297 times)
Matt
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« on: October 21, 2018, 09:33:03 AM »

This week's film is North by Northwest. Discuss anything about the film here.




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Matt
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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2018, 12:24:53 PM »

This week is coming to a close, has anyone watched North by Northwest? I feel like we've already fallen apart on our Hitchcock film series. :(
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2018, 12:55:47 PM »

I’m planning to watch it tomorrow. 8)
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KC
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« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2018, 07:38:28 PM »

I'll watch it soon. :)
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KC
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« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2018, 09:51:25 PM »

I'm planning to watch (or rather, re-watch) it in the next couple of days. Meanwhile, I hope nobody will mind if I post here the beginning of a paper I wrote for a film course I was taking back in the 90s, shortly before I got involved in the Hitchcock project I've mentioned before. The paper was titled Hitchcock’s North by Northwest and Eastwood’s The Gauntlet: A Comparison. Maybe it will inspire some of you to watch North by Northwest:D

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Although North by Northwest, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 masterpiece, and The Gauntlet, Clint Eastwood’s underappreciated sixth directorial effort (1977) might not strike the average filmgoer as having much in common, a closer examination reveals a surprising number of similarities.

Both films are apparently basically genre films of the action/thriller type (North by Northwest belongs to the subgenre of espionage/intrigue and The Gauntlet to that of the cop/chase picture); both, not too far under the surface, are essentially romantic comedies in which the main point of the plot is not for the hero to solve the intrigue or slay the malefactors, but to win the girl.

Both feature a major male star and a lesser known female star; in both cases the male star is a favorite with the director and the female star is of a “type” the director is known to favor. In both films, the male star’s well-established persona is both challenged and reasserted by events and circumstances in the film; both stars are allowed moments when they allude to past roles and exploit their familiar image and/or off-screen celebrity in somewhat nondiegetic ways.

In both films, the hero is presented in a brisk expository prologue, during which he walks and talks with a colleague, as a man with a drinking problem who has failed to establish a stable romantic relationship. In both films the hero will be plunged repeatedly by events beyond his control into situations of melodramatic peril, sometimes occurring in scenically spectacular settings, and featuring a lavish use of special effects. In both films, these situations include an extended one in which the hero is on the ground and is being fired at from an airborne vehicle; both of the air-to-ground chase scenes conclude with the airborne vehicle exploding spectacularly.

In both films, the hero is falsely accused of committing a murder that was actually perpetrated by the malefactors; in both, he cannot expect help from the police in clearing himself. In both films, he embarks on a journey, traveling variously by taxi, train, bus, purloined private vehicle, police car, plane, and ambulance; in both, most of these rides will be obtained in unorthodox ways.

In both films, in the course of the journey he meets a sexually forward blond woman who will attempt to seduce him for reasons unrelated to her feelings for him; in both films, she will prove to have been a sex partner of the chief malefactor, who turns against her and seeks her death. In both films, the hero and heroine will quarrel, but fall in love; triumphing over all obstacles, internal and external, they will be united at the end, but not before a scene in which the hero will fall at the heroine’s feet, apparently shot to death.

Finally, to make the closure complete for the action genre as well as the romantic comedy, the intrigue will be solved in the one film, the malefactors slain in the other.
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Christopher
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« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2018, 06:34:38 AM »

Those are some interesting similarities, KC. And I guess Clint the actor would be a favorite of Clint the director. ;D
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KC
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« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2018, 07:15:53 AM »

Those are some interesting similarities, KC. And I guess Clint the actor would be a favorite of Clint the director. ;D
Yeah, that was sly of me, wasn't it! ;)
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Matt
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« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2018, 05:32:43 PM »

I would say another comparison between North by Northwest and The Gauntlet is the grandiose over-the-top climactic scene of each film.  You can't go much bigger than Mt. Rushmore for a final chase scene -- unless you're driving down a Phoenix street with hundreds of cops trying to shoot you down. They're not just "huge" over-the-top endings, they're hilariously over the top, huge endings. 

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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2018, 09:49:24 PM »

I've seen this about a half dozen times now and it just gets better with each viewing. The IMDB trivia page has some interesting tidbits. This was my favorite:

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The film has been referred to as "the first James Bond film" due to its similarities with splashily colourful settings, secret agents, and an elegant, daring, wisecracking leading man opposite a sinister yet strangely charming villain. The crop duster scene inspired the helicopter chase in From Russia with Love (1963).

I'd never noticed before but I see what they're saying.

Does everyone know about the blooper in the cafeteria at Mount Rushmore? Keep an eye on the little boy seated a one of the tables behind Cary Grant.

I don't know what my all time favorite Hitchcock movie is but this week, it's North By Northwest. 8)

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KC
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« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2018, 08:19:26 PM »

I would say another comparison between North by Northwest and The Gauntlet is the grandiose over-the-top climactic scene of each film.  You can't go much bigger than Mt. Rushmore for a final chase scene -- unless you're driving down a Phoenix street with hundreds of cops trying to shoot you down. They're not just "huge" over-the-top endings, they're hilariously over the top, huge endings. 

That's a great point, too.

I went on in my paper to point out all the differences, but I won't bore you with that now.

If you have the DVD, don't miss the "making of" featurette that's included. It's hosted by Eva Marie Saint, and includes great insider stuff from Ernest Lehman, Martin Landau and the director's daughter, Pat Hitchcock. I'm sure there isn't anyone watching this film who could be under the illusion that they really did shoot that final chase sequence on the face of Mt. Rushmore, but it's fascinating to see how they really did do it.

The featurette is from 2000, and I was curious as to whether Pat is still with us. From what I can find on the web, she is, and she turned ninety this year. 8)
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2018, 10:01:24 PM »

Going to see this again tomorrow on the big screen. 8) 8) 8)
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Christopher
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« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2018, 02:13:44 PM »

Going to see this again tomorrow on the big screen. 8) 8) 8)
That would be fun!
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KC
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« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2018, 04:00:59 PM »

It would, I don't think I've ever seen it on the big screen. Lucky you!
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2018, 10:27:27 PM »

I only stumbled onto the fact that this cinema was showing old classics each Monday over the weekend. It started back in July and I missed the chance to see Rear Window & Vertigo as well. Oh well. :(

I may have only seen this film a couple of weeks back but it was still great. As I said then, it seems to get better with each viewing. I forgot to mention some of the camera angles in this film and their so much more striking on the big screen.

Starting with the opening titles in the diagonal slant. The scene with Cary Grant running to a taxi from the UN building. Shot from such a height, Grant looks like an ant. There's even an overhead shot in the library of the Townsend house with James Mason and Cary Grant that looks great. Another favorite shot I like is when the bus is coming along and Cary Grant gets off in the middle of nowhere. Just before the famous crop dusting scene. The camera seems so high up. Just brilliant film making.
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Matt
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« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2018, 01:40:57 AM »

I like the shot inside the Embassy where you see the 48 star flag. It just looks so weird.

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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2018, 10:01:54 PM »

Really? I don’t remember it. Apart from the two less stars, is it much different? Looks the same to this Aussie. :)
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« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2018, 11:43:10 PM »

It's the shape of the field of stars. The 48-star field had all straight lines, 8 across and 6 down. The 50-star flag has 'em staggered, to quite a different visual effect.

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Matt
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« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2018, 11:51:58 PM »

Yup! It was rather jarring to see it there, and I wondered if it might have been the 49 star flag, which flew for just one year -- the second half of 1959 to mid 1960. So we know that filming took place in the first half of 1959 or earlier. Cool stuff.

The 49 star flag:
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Matt
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« Reply #18 on: November 13, 2018, 12:01:28 AM »

Did anyone notice the Hitchcock cameo on the poster art?  ;D

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KC
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« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2018, 08:27:34 AM »

It's pretty hard to miss. ;)
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