(On TV, August 1999) With Hitchcock’s 100th anniversary celebrations, two local TV stations ran some of his films. While I was not interested enough by Psycho to keep watching it beyond the infamous shower scene and couldn’t muster the interest to see most of The Birds (watched the set-pieces and returned to my book for the remainder of the film), I must admit that North By Northwest still works very, very well forty years later. Okay, most of the special effects are weak and the beginning could be tightened, but the dialogue and the plotting gradually build to a high pitch of interest. Interestingly, the movie uses (defined?) most of the modern conventions of thrillers, up to the gimmicky ending at A Famous Location. Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint are great in their roles, and the overall result is worth a look.
(Second Viewing, On Cable TV, January 2019) Revisiting North by Northwest after seeing so many other Hitchcock or Cary Grant films seemed inevitable—now that I’m more familiar with that era of filmmaking, now that I know the quirks of Hitchcock and the charm of Grant’s performances, would it be as good? Happily, not only is it just as good as I remembered it—it’s even better. There’s a thrilling sense of adventure, plot twists, set-pieces and humour to the film, as Cary Grant becomes the prototypical Hitchcockian man on the run alongside Eva Saint-Marie, going from New York to the Rushmore monument along the way. The conclusion is abrupt, but there’s something to be said for not overstaying one’s welcome. The direction is top-notch, the actors couldn’t be more likable, and the mystery/suspense just keeps going. North by Northwest is simply a fantastic film no matter how you look at it, and no matter when you look at it.¶