NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959)

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Director: Alfred Hitchcock
MPAA Rating: Not Rated (released before MPAA ratings)
Running Time: 136 min.

When two thugs kidnap Roger Thornhill from a business lunch at a fancy hotel, he isn’t sure whether he should be more afraid or outraged.  His captors seem to have mistaken him for someone called “George Kaplan,” and they won’t believe him when he tells them they’ve got the wrong man.  When he refuses to cooperate—for the simple reason that he has no idea what they’re talking about—they try to kill him by staging a drunk driving accident. When he survives and returns with the police to the mansion where he was being held, his captors have carefully covered their tracks, making him seem like a paranoid drunk.  But the last straw comes when the kidnappers frame him for the murder of a United Nations diplomat.  Now Roger is on the run—from the kidnappers and from the police—and the only hope he has of clearing his name is to find the real George Kaplan.

You know a film was made by “the Master of Suspense” when you’ve seen it ten times and it still makes you jump.  As is Hitchcock’s strength, the suspense comes as much from action as from lack of action, mystery, and uncertainty.  Humor and sexual tension is smoothly blended into story, and unlike many thrillers today, Hitchcock does not ignore the visual artistry of his filmmaking when focusing on the action of the plot.  His intentional, deliberate use of color and carefully composed shots make his film attractive as well as exciting.  Yes, you must be tolerant of 1950s special effects and ridiculous (and sexist) flirty banter, but Hitchcock’s masterpiece is a must-see for thriller lovers.  Definitely a favorite of mine.  I highly recommend it!

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