North By Northwest
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North By Northwest

During the 1960s the United States, as was most of the world, was trying to cope with the new threat unlike any other humanity has faced; the Cold War. With nuclear weapons amply available to the two major superpowers, the United States the Soviet Union, the world stood on the brink of annihilation on a global scale. Mutual fear on both sides largely replaced military action to the covert progression of espionage, giving rise to a time fraught with fear and paranoia overwhelming the public Governments addressed this stressful environment to some extent by taking the severe business of gathering Intelligence to the detriment of your enemy and turning it into exciting spy movies. In 1959 the undisputed master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, took on the espionage genre and combined it with another postwar growth industry, advertising. The result was one of his best films, ‘North by Northwest.' It has been remastered for high definition and re-released in Blu-ray. If you are a serious cinephile, the never had an opportunity to include this title as part of your collection already; this is the time to rectify that woeful omission. The mastery that Hitchcock had every aspect of direction framing each shot to the use of lights deployment of lenses can best be appreciated and I definition. In any case, just now serves as an opportunity to revisit one of the most perfectly crafted examples of the cinematic arts ever entrusted to film. In1995 this lm was inducted for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress, as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

Right from the beginning you know there is something special about this film. The trademark minimalistic opening graphics by Saul Bass are accompanied by a stirring score from one of the movies best composer, Bernard Herrmann. Together they grabbed your attention with the first examples of kinetic typography used in films. Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant), an advertising executive on Madison Avenue, is kidnapped by enemy operatives, Valerian (Adam Williams) and Licht (Robert Ellenstein), after the mistake in spy they were meant to apprehend, George Kaplan. Despite Thornhill’s adamant denial but he’s the person they are looking for they understandably refuse to accept his explanation. This movie contains one of the most understated examples o Mr. Hitchcock’s trademark technique, the MacGuffin. The actual identity of Kaplan is of little or no concern to the audience that it is vitally crucial to the characters within the context of the story.

They transport Thornhill to an estate out on Long Island for interrogation by Phillip Vandamm (James Mason), an espionage mastermind and accompanied by his sinister associate, Leonard (Martin Landau). There is a story attributed to Alfred Hitchcock concerning his consideration of Martin Landau for this role. Apparently, Mr. Hitchcock made the following statement to the inspiring actor, "Martin, your mind is a three-ring circus, and I intend to be the ringmaster." indicative of how Alfred Hitchcock perceived his actors as performers to be manipulated by his indomitable will. The plan is after questioning Thornhill that it was disposed of him permanently. To make his demise seem innocuous, Thornhill is forced to drink copious quantities of bourbon until he is completely inebriated, then placed into a car and driven to the scene of the accident would be staged fully explaining his death. In a bit of dark humor that was always a favorite of Mr. Hitchcock’s, it takes a lot of alcohol to fully impair Madison Avenue, an advertising executive. Thornhill manages to survive the staged crash but is unable to convince the authorities of what happened. His story of being abducted by spies crumbles completely when the police investigate the house questioning the woman there (Josephine Hutches), who explains that he was acted upon yours and got excessively drunk. She further identifies Thornhill as the United Nations diplomat.

Cary Grant has had several occasions to play a highly inebriated individual. And attributed the mastery of his abilities in the range of his talent, Mr. Grant can maintain the seriousness of the situation while shrouding it in the coming cal affectations of a drunk man trying to explain his way out of serious troubles with the police. Despite the overtone of comedy, the audience is given no relief from being drawn into this nightmarish world. AS Thornhill tries to piece together what is going on and desperately trying to maintain his sanity he while pulled into one dire situation after another. Because the UN to seek out the real spy only to have a man murdered was standing next to him, and I meant to kill him. He follows Kaplan’s itinerary to Chicago by taking a train that he meets the requisite ‘Hitchcock blonde’, Kendall (Eva Marie Saint). She is quickly pulled into this web of intrigue and becomes one of those companions for most of the adventure to follow. One of the many reasons this is considered among the greatest films ever made or some iconic scenes that have helped or redefined cinema. The first is the famous scene of Thornhill alone and isolated crossroads waiting for a bus. A small black speck appears in the distance growing larger as the buzzing sound it given off by it increases in volume. Soon, it can be seen to be a crop duster. Only Mr. Hitchcock has the sheer talented honed by experience and tempered by his artistic vision of such a complexity to successfully pull off such visually profound and subconsciously terrifying sense.Mr. Hitchcock manages to take a wide open field, devoid of any

Talent h by refined in an experience that makes incapable of taking the relative safety of a wide open field and turning it into a scene of absolute horror. In another famous scene, Thornhill goes to the visitor center mount Rushmore Brady poses as Kendall the purposes of a vital negotiation. Once again Mr. Hitchcock takes a simple scene already fraught with palpable tension and turns it into a life or death struggle among the large features the presidents immortalized in the statue of this famous Stone Mountain. Life or death chase on the face of these leaders has become one of the most memorable scenes in history.

Simply put, this movie is one of the most amazing movies ever made and as mentioned it deserves to be seen in the best means of presentation possible. This high-definition transfer allows you to fully appreciate the way Mr. Hitchcock was able to use light and shadow so incredibly effectively during the critical period when filmmakers were struggling with transitioning from black-and-white to color. Always in the vanguard of his art, Mr. Hitchcock had undeniably mastered these techniques while all the directors were struggling with being neophytes. This latest release by Warner Bros. does provide a means to appreciate nuances in the film may have otherwise missed. Any film by Mr. Hitchcock is intrinsically complicated with several undertones, and artistic touches that separate him from any of the directors attempted to follow his footsteps.

Posted 10/27/2015            10/08/2016

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