copyright © Jedo Dre 2011

There is one problem with this movie: the plot. It is too convenient and far-fetched. Characters are a little too stupid for the sake of the plot, mostly the main character, whenever it suits the movie. There is a scene where the main character gets attacked in a manner that would fit a James Bond film but this particular occasion does not call at all for such an attack, except for the show of course.

Some movies like L.A. Confidential have too many minor layers that may end up losing the viewer, while this film goes the opposite direction, as far as to make its characters clarify out loud what had just occurred when it is not at all necessary.

However, you will not care about the contrivance issue because the general structure of the film is so nice, it is so well shot and the performances are so great that the rest does not matter.

The tension can be cut with a knife, and once it starts, it continues with barely a break until the end. Even though the movie can be a bit predictable, you cannot wait to see what happens next anyway.

This is one of the more original and better looking movies. There are neat little tricks Hitchcock with the camera that keep surprising and this is all done in the 1950s may I remind. The mood of location is conveyed with excellency, like showing the vast middle-of-nowhere by shooting from a hight with a good long perspective.

Perhaps a minor note, but this film also has quite a few good looking night scenes for the time. Many of the movies of this era use the day-for-night technique where the scene is shot in the daylight and then darkened in post-processing, which always looks really fake. North by Northwest does this much better, through a variety of techniques.

Perhaps one visual issue is that it tends to use a lot of matte paintings to fill out the background and unfortunately some of them are quite noticeable.

A brief word on the music: it goes a long way to help the movie feel tense. You hear those careful brass tunes pulsating and keeping the pressure at the surface.

In addition this film has good actors all round, especially the villains, who aren't full of anger or fake laughter like in so many films, but polite, intelligent and sharp looking. Especially the young Martin Landau has a brilliant expression on his face, which can turn very devious while hardly changing at all.

North by Northwest is, despite its plot issues, a very very good movie. This is the sort of film that makes a person want to find and watch every Hitchcock movie there is out there.

North by Northwest