• North by Northwest (1959) - Influential spy epic - 7/10 (05/01/19)

    North by Northwest (1959)

    North by Northwest, which has horrible translations to French with La mort aux trousses and German with Der unsichtbare Dritte, is one of Alfred Hitchcock's greatest movies. This vivid action-thriller and spy epic has influenced franchises like James Bond and many others. Despite a certain nostalgic charm regarding clothes, lifestyles and settings, the movie has aged quite well and is still very entertaining sixty years after its initial release and beyond.

    The story revolves around a charming advertising executive who is mistaken for a secret agent, kidnapped, poisoned and left for dead. He survives by chance but nobody seems to believe his story and he is instead charged with driving under the influence. The ambitious young man desires to clear his name and starts investigating. Soon enough, he is in the middle of a dangerous conflict between a shady businessman and his associates and the real government agents he has been mistaken for. Along with a mysterious woman who befriends and helps him on a train ride, he travels northwest through the United States of America to figure out what he has been involved with.

    North by Northwest convinces on numerous levels. The story is twisted, mysterious and dynamic as it will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. The iconic action sequences have stood the test of time and are still breathtaking to watch. The unforgettable locations are chosen with care, intellect and precision. The camera work is very precise and still an example to follow by contemporary standards. The acting performances are charismatic and especially the lead character is truly unique.

    There are only two minor elements that need to be criticized. The female lead character feels somewhat superficial as she almost instantly falls in love with a perfect stranger despite her pivotal role in the story. Another thing that bothered me was the abrupt ending which could have been a little bit more fluid without overstaying its welcome.

    Still, North by Northwest is a movie you should watch at least once in your lifetime if you like crime films in general and spy movies in particular.

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