Another Alfred Hitchcock classic. Cary Grant (playing Madison Avenue adman Roger Thornhill) is mistaken for George Kaplan (a man who never was) by enemy agent James Mason. Thus his adventures begin. He's forcibly made drunk, almost drives off a cliff, is believed to have stabbed a man in the United Nations building in New York, is the target of a nationwide manhunt, and meets Eva Marie Saint. Then there's the Mount Rushmore sequence. A terrific yet funny thriller.

North by Northwest is in some ways a typical Hitchcock movie with its odd camera angles, mistaken identities, plot twists, and sexual tension. It also, as most Hitchcockian films has some interesting behind the scenes facts. The film was orginally titled The Man in Lincoln's Nose because of the chase scenes filmed at Mount Rushmore. It was filmed in 1959 and was Alfred Hitchcock's only film for MGM.

One question anyone familiar with Alfred Hitchcock movies always asks is "Where is Alfred?". He appears in a brief cameo in all his films, and it's a challenge to find him in each movie. In this particular movie he appears at the end of the opening credits, attempting to board a bus. The bus driver slams the door in his face and drives off.

Some other interesting things about this movie include the fact that in the scene at the United Nations Building, Mr. Hitchcock was unable to obtain permission to film there, so the scene was filmed using hidden cameras. I also found it interesting that the house used in the Rushmore scenes was a mock up. It was based on a Frank Lloyd Wright designed house called Fallingwater.

The film has some classic and recognizable scenes. One of these is the famous crop duster scene where Cary Grant's character is chased by a very low flying crop duster plane. Another memorable sequence is the drunk driving scene, where our hero is forced to drink large quantities of alcohol and drive down a twisty coastal highway. The camera work and point of view filming here is truly sensational, and should be familiar to anyone who's ever driven drunk.

North by Northwest - Warner Home Video.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Written by Ernest Lehmann.

Region 2 DVD Review. (although almost everything written here could be applied to the Region 1 DVD release.)

BBFC rating : PG (for occasional theatrical suspense)

North by Northwest is possibly Alfred Hitchcock's most entertaining American thriller. He has made better films, but few are as genuinely enthralling as this fabulous chase movie about mistaken identity, espionage and dramatic irony. The film just doesn't stop for breath. An advertising executive is mistaken by the villains as a government agent on their case. He is soon in connection with a murder, and is wanted on both sides of the law. A pleasingly sly mixture of action, sexiness, and jaw-slacking moments.

The DVD presentation of this film is superb, in fact it's better than that. It's a revelation. Originally shot in VistaVision; a 35mm camera format which uses double length frames to increase horizontal resolution, the film elements of this movie are badly in need of film restoration, a la Vertigo had been restored back in 1996. However, what Warner's video restoration team have done, is to transfer an unusable film print to the digital domain, fix the colour balance of each shot digitally, and clean each frame of dirt using the computer to remove the artifacts. Because of this care and attention to detail, the DVD's anamorphic image is bold, detailed, saturated and a joy to behold. Utterly stunning! Please, just throw away your old NbNW Criterion Collection laserdiscs and run for a copy of this superb DVD.

A Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track is the chosen sound format for this remastered DVD edition, and it serves the film rather well, showcasing Bernard Hermann's extravagant score and a few directional effects including the cropduster flying over camera. Dialogue sounds a little strained at times, but the film is over 40 years old. Much, much better than I was expecting. The lack of the original soundtrack deserves a tiny slap on the wrist though.

Extras on this DVD include an audio commentary with the writer Ernest Lehmann, an isolated score stereo soundtrack, Theatrical trailer, photographs and a 40 minute making of documentary. A well produced selection of extras.

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