Classic Movie Reviews

North by Northwest

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SIR ALFRED JOSEPH HITCHCOCK ( Aug 1899 -- Apr 1980 )

Born in London, son of a greengrocer and poultry merchant, Hitchcock describes his childhood as lonely and sheltered, partly because of his obesity. At age 5 he was sent to the local police station with a note from his father requesting that he be locked up for ten minutes for some misbehavior. Being wrongly accused and harshly treated became recurring motifs in his motion pictures. He was sent to Salesian College and then St. Ignatius College in London but when he was 14 his father died and he left the Jesuit school to enter the London County Council School of Engineering. After working for a time as a draftsman he became an advertising designer. His start in the film industry in London was as a title card designer and it took five years to work his way up to directing. He became a successful director in London, turning out 25 films during the 1920s and 1930s. His move to Hollywood came when he was signed to a contract by David O. Selznick in 1939. His first American film was Rebecca in 1940, which received the Best Picture Oscar for that year. As an independent producer, Selznick often had difficulty securing financing and couldn't keep Hitchcock busy, so loaned him out often to the major studios. Also in 1940 he directed Foreign Correspondent, followed in 1941 by Suspicion. His first film as both producer and director was Saboteur (1942) (in which the bad guy falls from the Statue of Liberty, an iconic movie moment). His personal favorite of all his 32 American films was Shadow of a Doubt in 1943. Other notable Hitchcock films include Lifeboat (1944), Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), Strangers on a Train (1951), Dial M for Murder (1954), and Rear Window (1954). The film most people remember best was Psycho in 1960, with the savage slaying of Janet Leigh in the shower. In addition to his film work, he hosted Alfred Hitchcock Presents on television for several years. His honors included two Golden Globe Awards, five Lifetime Achievement Awards by various industry groups and five nominations for the Best Director Oscar. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1980.


    A classic production from the Alfred Hitchcock school of movie-making. Cary Grant is trapped between a "rock" of mysterious villians wanting to kill him, led by a sophisticatedly sinister James Mason, and a "hard place" of police wanting to arrest him for a murder he didn't commit. Eva Marie Saint, at her lovliest, gives an engaging performance. Others in support include Leo G. Carroll and Martin Landau. Mount Rushmore plays a scary cameo role. The ending features Hitchcock's slightly off-center and off-color sense of humor.


1959, Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

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