- North by Northwest review by Steve Mason
Unofficial remake of The 39 Steps, and being only a couple of films after the update of The Man Who Knew Too Much, maybe gives an impression that the Master of Suspense's signature style is leading him into repetition, a suspicion that would be confounded a year later with the release of Psycho.
That slight feeling of tiredness is amplified a little by Ernest Lehman's dialogue in North by Northwest being so poor. Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll were given infinitely better sexual wit to exchange than Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint here, who share zero chemistry. The two stars don't even share neighbouring generations. I love Cary Grant but he could have performed this in his sleep and at times appeared to be doing so.
And yet. North by Northwest is still an exciting, sophisticated thriller with some of Hitch's most brilliantly constructed scenes, particularly the crop dusting episode which grows out of nothing in a rural wilderness into a stunning crescendo of action. And the denouement on Mount Rushmore is justly cinema legend.
James Mason and Martin Landau make for an all time great double act of villains. It was a huge hit for the Master. It is a summation of what a Hitchcock film meant in 1959, just as he was about to rip up the rulebook.
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