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.

On the Waterfront

  • Directors: Elia Kazan
  • Producers: Sam Spiegel
  • Writers: Budd Schulberg
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Marlon Brando, Karl Malden, Lee J Cobb, Eva Marie Saint, Rod Steiger

This classic story of Mob informers was based on a number of true stories and filmed on location in and around the docks of Hoboken, New Jersey. Mob-connected union boss Johnny Friendly (Lee J. Cobb) gloats about his iron fisted control of the waterfront. The police and the Waterfront Crime Commission know that Friendly is behind a number of murders, but witnesses play deaf and dumb (“D&D”), submitting to their oppressed position rather that risk the danger and shame of informing. Terry Malloy (Marlon Brando) is a dockworker whose brother Charley (Rod Steiger) is Friendly‘s lawyer. Some years earlier, Terry had been a promising boxer until Friendly had Charley instruct Terry to deliberately lose a fight that he could have won, so that Friendly could win money betting on the weaker opponent. As the film begins, simpleminded Terry is used to coax a popular dockworker out to an ambush, preventing him from testifying against Friendly before the Crime Commission. Terry resents being so used in the murder but is still willing to remain D&D. Terry meets and is smitten by the murdered dockworker’s lovely sister, Edie (Eva Marie Saint), who has shamed “waterfront priest” Father Barry (Karl Malden) into fomenting action against the union/mob. Soon both Edie and Father Barry are urging Terry to testify. Another dockworker who agrees to testify after Father Barry’s promise of unwavering support, but Friendly arranges for him to be crushed by a load of whiskey in staged accident.

As Terry, tormented by his awakening conscience increasingly leans toward testifying, Friendly decides that Terry must be killed unless Charley can coerce him to keep quiet. Charley tries bribing Terry with a plum job, and finally threatens him, but recognizes he has failed to sway Terry, who places the blame for his own downward spiral on his well-off brother. In one of the most famous scenes in movie history, Terry reminds Charley that if it had not been for the fixing of the fight, “I coulda been a contender.” Charley gives Terry a gun and advises him to run. Friendly has been spying on the situation, so has Charley murdered, his body hung in an alley as bait to get at Terry. Terry sets out to shoot Friendly, but Father Barry obstructs that course of action and finally convinces Terry to fight Friendly by testifying. In a final face-to-face confrontation with Friendly, Terry is finally getting the upper hand in a vicious brawl but is beaten nearly to death by Friendly’s goons. The dockworkers declare support of Terry, and only commence work when Terry forces himeself to enter the dock. Friendly is defeated as the controller of the longshoremen.