By Dennis Hartley
(Originally posted on Digby’s Hullabaloo on November 28, 2009)
North by Northwest (50th Anniversary Edition) – Warner (2-disc)
I’m hard-pressed to find a more perfect blend of suspense, intrigue, romance, action, comedy and visual mastery than Hitchcock’s 1959 masterpiece. Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason and Martin Landau head a great cast in this outstanding “wrong man” thriller (a Hitchcock specialty). Almost every set piece in the film has become iconic (and emulated again and again by Hitchcock wannabes).
Although I never tire of the crop dusting sequence or the cliff-hanging Mt. Rushmore set piece, my favorite is the dining car seduction scene. Armed solely with Ernest Lehman’s clever repartee and their acting chemistry, Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint engage in the most erotic sex scene ever filmed wherein the participants remain fully clothed (and keep hands where we can see them!).
Frequent Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Hermann’s score is one of his finest. The 50th anniversary restoration by Warner is crystalline, and corrects the color issues that marred the previous edition.