North by Northwest

  • Directors: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Producers: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Writers: Ernest Lehman
  • Genres: Adventure, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason

A Madison Avenue advertising executive, Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant), is mistaken for a Mr. George Kaplan and kidnapped by thugs Valerian (Adam Williams) and Licht (Robert Ellenstein). He is taken to the house of Lester Townsend on Long Island. There he is interrogated by a man he assumes to be Townsend, but who is really Phillip Vandamm (James Mason). When Thornhill repeatedly denies he is Kaplan, Vandamm becomes annoyed and orders his right-hand man Leonard (Martin Landau) to get rid of him.

Thornhill is forced to drink bourbon in an attempt to stage a fatal accident. However, after a car chase on a perilous road, he is rear-ended by a police patrol car and apprehended. He is charged with drunken driving. He is unable to get the police, the judge or even his mother (Jessie Royce Landis) to believe what happened to him, especially when a woman at Townsend’s residence claims he got drunk at a dinner party; she also informs them that Townsend is a United Nations diplomat.

Thornhill and his mother go to Kaplan’s hotel room, but cannot find anyone at the hotel who has seen him.

Narrowly avoiding recapture, Thornhill takes a taxi to the General Assembly building of the United Nations, where Townsend is due to deliver a speech. Thornhill meets Townsend face to face and is surprised to find that the diplomat is not the man who interrogated him. Then Valerian throws a knife that strikes Townsend in the back. He falls forward, dead, into Thornhill’s arms. Unthinkingly, Thornhill removes the knife, making it appear to witnesses that he is the killer, forcing him to flee.

The scene transitions from Thornhill pulling Eve to safety on Mount Rushmore to him pulling her (the new Mrs. Thornhill) up onto an overhead train bunk. The final shot shows their train speeding into a tunnel.

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