North by Northwest
Cary Grant is his usual wonderful self and, really, what more do you need from a movie than that?
This film is a perfect example of Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant at the collective peak of their powers. It’s a monumentally entertaining movie, with all the twists and turns you expect from a man called “The master of suspense.” And, besides, it’s just plain fun.
The story is fairly familiar in the Hitchcock repertoire, a man falsely assumed to be someone he’s not, who gets mixed up with nefarious business he doesn’t understand, has to fight back in order to stay alive and clear his name. Hitchcock uses the same plot device to great success in The 39 Steps and The Man Who Knew Too Much, amongst others. And he uses it extremely effectively here as well. The added twist of the audience sometimes knowing more than the hero and sometimes less deepens the mystery nicely, clearly Hitchcock just kept getting better with age.
The rest of the cast does a great job as well, from Eva Marie Saint’s wonderful portrayal of a shadowy ally, to James Mason’s excellent job as the villain of the piece. Still, Cary Grant really carries the story and the spirit of the film. Hitchcock’s British films are, in general, a little less comedic than his later American ones. The danger tends to be a bit graver and somewhat less obvious. But the whole thing is amazing anyway, and the scene with the crop plane is really one of the best in all of cinema.