DVD - Image A Sound B Extras A
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starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Jessie Royce Landis
screenplay by Ernest Lehman
directed by Alfred Hitchcock
by Walter Chaw Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is Alfred Hitchcock's most mercurial anti-hero, the soup bone reduction of the Master's wrong-man theme. An advertising executive so at ease with changing his identity at the fall of a hammer, he has, by film's end, become/done all of the things he's wrongfully accused of being/doing at the beginning of the film. Indeed, Hitchcock would never again mine the idea of the wrong man with this kind of heat--veering off as he did into a more metaphysical kind of guilt transference à la Vertigo with The Birds, Psycho, and Marnie. As North by Northwest opens, Thornhill gives his regards to a night porter's wife ("We're not talkin'!"), steals a cab from a Good Samaritan, and instructs his secretary to send a neglected lover a box of gold-wrapped candy because "she'll think she's eating money." He's a charmer--and he's as oily, despicable, and fast-talking as almost every one of Grant's romantic comedy heroes. Hitch undermines and exploits Grant for the fourth and final time here as a guy we love until we stop for a second to catch our breath and take stock of the myriad ways in which we've been bribed, glad-handed, misled, and led-on.
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