Note: This Week in the Box is a year-long series where Sam works through the entire Warner Brothers 50 Film Collection box set. To find reviews of the other films in the series and see the complete list, click here.
North by Northwest is the third film I’ve seen by Alfred Hitchcock, which triples the number of Hitchcock films I’d seen before the start of this year. Hitchcock is widely regarded as one of the greatest directors of all time, which is why it’s particularly disappointing that I have nothing at all new or interesting to say about him or this movie.
Now, I’m not saying it’s bad. In fact, I liked it a lot. But the thing is, me saying Cary Grant is awesome only adds to the thousands and thousands of people who have said that before. Basically, my review boils down to “You’ve heard that this is good, and I think it is good too, therefore, you should watch it.”
North by Northwest, if you’ve never seen it, is a thriller staring Cary Grant who is mistaken for a man called George Kaplan, who, it turns out, is involved with the CIA and wanted by a crime syndicate. Hijinks ensue. (for Hitchcockian values of hijinks)
Relatedly, this movie made me realize that I really like movies where The System completely shuts down to one person, or one group of people. You’re in trouble, and it’s not just that the people who know the truth are the ones who got you in to trouble, but the higher level shadowy people also know that you are in trouble and are explicitly and deliberately turning a blind eye. There’s no one to appeal to because everyone you might appeal to has already set themselves against helping you. It’s a bleak premise, so it’s always really interesting to see how the Hero or Heroine responds and how they (generally) eventually triumph.
Unrelatedly, Cary Grant orders a Gibson, which made me look up what kind of cocktail that is. The answer is that it’s a (gin) martini with a cocktail onion instead of an olive.