2. 'North By Northwest' (1959)
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What to say about a movie whose hero is hollow at the core, yet has the grace
to make a proud joke of it — Roger O. Thornhill, the "O" standing for "nothing"
— and, yes, has the luck to be played by Cary Grant? Alfred Hitchcock's "North
by Northwest" is many folks' idea of the most entertaining movie they know.
Hitchcock himself was a bit bummed at the time; his perverse, poetic "Vertigo"
had not gone over well (in 2012 it would be voted greatest film ever), and so he
ran for cover, making the supreme example of the comedy-thriller genre for which
he was renowned. Few noticed, in 1959, that it was also a masterpiece.
Bing: Watch clips from 'North By Northwest'
If a movie has Eva Marie Saint as a blond Eve on the Twentieth Century
Limited, James Mason as the suavest of sinister aesthetes, Martin Landau as his
spiderlike lieutenant, a murder at the United Nations, an attempted
assassination amid acres of Midwest emptiness and a chase across the faces on
Mount Rushmore, who would demand that it also be a scintillating meditation on
the allure of false appearances? Yet it is. Ernest Lehman's screenplay shimmers
with wit, and Bernard Herrmann's score plays on the audience like a drum. —
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(Cary Grant & Eva Marie Saint in "North By Northwest"/SNAP/Rex