British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

North by Northwest

Synopsis
Feature film. A spy thriller taking it’s name from Hamlet’s line ‘I am but mad north-north-west’ (II ii). New York advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Grant) is kidnapped by a gang of spies led by Phillip Vandamm, who believe Thornhill is CIA agent George Kaplan. Thornhill escapes, but must find Kaplan in order to clear himself of a murder it is believed he committed. Following Kaplan to Chicago as a fugitive from justice, Thornhill meets a sympathetic but suspicious woman, Eve (Saint), on a transcontinent express train. Lured to a bleak prairie he is chased across a cornfield by a crop-dusting plane. Thornhill survives and later finds Eve and Vandamm together at an auction sale. The showdown involves a scramble across the giant sculptured features of Thomas Jefferson on Mount Rushmore. Some will argue that the connection to Shakespeare’s play is purely titular, but others have seen more significant parallels (see note on Stanley Cavell’s essay).
Language
English
Country
United States
Medium
Film
Technical information
Colour / Sound
Year of release
1959
Keywords
Shakespeare, William (1564-1616)

Credits

Director
Alfred Hitchcock
Producer
Alfred Hitchcock
Cinematographer
Robert Burks
Screenplay
Ernest Lehman
Music
Bernard Herrman
Cast
Cary Grant 
Eva Marie Saint 
James Mason 
Leo G. Carroll 

Production Company

Name

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributor (Sale)

 

Available from retail outlets

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