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North by Northwest Details

FULL SYNOPSIS

While having lunch at the Plaza Hotel in New York, advertising executive Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) has the bad luck to call for a messenger just as a page goes out for a "George Kaplan." From that moment, Thornhill finds that he has stepped into a nightmare -- he is quietly abducted by a pair of armed men out of the hotel's famous Oak Room and transported to a Long Island estate; there, he is interrogated by a mysterious man (James Mason) who, believing that Roger is George Kaplan, demands to know what he knows about his business and how he has come to acquire this knowledge. Roger, who knows nothing about who any of these people are, can do nothing but deny that he is Kaplan or that he knows what they're talking about. Finally, his captors force a bottle of bourbon into Roger and put him behind the wheel of a car on a dangerous downhill stretch. Through sheer luck and the intervention of a police patrol car and its driver (John Beradino), Roger survives the ride and evades his captors, and is booked for drunk driving. He's unable to persuade the court, the county detectives, or even his own mother (Jesse Royce Landis) of the truth of his story, however -- Thornhill returns with them to the mansion where he was held, only to find any incriminating evidence cleaned up and to learn that the owner of the house is a diplomat, Lester Townsend (Philip Ober), assigned to the United Nations. He backtracks to the hotel to find the room of the real George Kaplan, only to discover that no one at the hotel has ever actually seen the man. With his kidnappers once again pursuing him, Thornhill decides to confront Townsend at the United Nations, only to discover that he knows nothing of the events on Long Island, or his house being occupied -- but before he can learn more, Townsend gets a knife in his back in full view of 50 witnesses who believe that Roger did it. Now on the run from a murder charge, complete with a photograph of him holding the weapon plastered on the front page of every newspaper in the country, Thornhill tries to escape via train -- there he meets the cooly beautiful Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint), who twice hides him from the police, once spontaneously and a second time in a more calculated rendezvous in her compartment that gets the two of them together romantically, at least for the night. By the next day, he's off following a clue to a remote rural highway, where he is attacked by an armed crop-dusting plane, one of the most famous scenes in Hitchcock's entire film output. Thornhill barely survives, but he does manage to learn that his mysterious tormentor/interrogator is named Phillip Vandamm, and that he goes under the cover of being an art dealer and importer/exporter, and that Eve is in bed with him in every sense of the phrase -- or is she? ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi

  • Release date:July 17, 1959

Awards

Awarded by
Nominee
Category
Year
Status
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Merrill Pye Best Color Art Direction 1959 Nominee
Edgar Allan Poe Awards Ernest Lehman Best Screenplay 1959 Winner
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Ernest Lehman Best Original Screenplay 1959 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences George Tomasini Best Editing 1959 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Henry W. Grace Best Color Art Direction 1959 Nominee
Directors Guild of America Alfred Hitchcock Best Director 1959 Nominee

Cast

Cary Grant
as Roger O. Thornhill
Eva Marie Saint
as Eve Kendall
James Mason
as Phillip Vandamm
Jesse Royce Landis
as Clara Thornhill
Leo G. Carroll
as The Professor
Martin Landau
as Leonard
Philip Ober
as Lester Townsend
Josephine Hutchinson
as "Mrs. Townsend," housekeeper
Adam Williams
as Valerian
Edward Platt
as Victor Larrabee
Les Tremayne
as Auctioneer
Philip Coolidge
as Dr. Cross
Patrick McVey
as Chicago Policeman
Edward Binns
as Capt. Junket
Lawrence Dobkin
as Cartoonist
Doreen Lang
as Maggie
Harry Seymour
as Captain of Waiters
Sally Fraser
as Attendant
Ned Glass
as Ticket Seller
Malcolm Atterbury
as Man on Road
Ernest Anderson
as Porter
Susan Whitney
as Girl Attendant
Carleton Young
as Fanning Nelson
Taggart Casey
as Shaving Man
Harry Strang
as Assistant Conductor
Lucille Curtis
Howard Negley
as Conductor
Maudie Prickett
as Plaza Maid
Bill Catching
as Attendant
Sara Berner
as Telephone Operator
Andy Albin
as Farmer
John Damler
as Lieutenant
Tol Avery
Dale Van Sickel
as Ranger
Stanley Adams
as Lt. Harding
Walter Coy
as Reporter
Baynes Barron
as Taxi Driver
Nora Marlowe
as Anna the Housekeeper
Robert Shayne
as Larry Wade
Frank Marlowe
as Dakota Cab Driver
Alexander Lockwood
as Judge Anson B. Flynn
Paul Genge
as Lt. Hagerman
Jesslyn Fax
as Woman
Bobby Johnson
as Waiter
Len Hendry
as Police Lieutenant
Maura McGiveney
as Attendant
Madge Kennedy
as Housewife
Sid Kane
James McCallion
as Valet
Patricia Cutts
as Bit
Harvey Stephens
as Stock Broker
Ken Lynch
as Chicago Policeman
Frank Wilcox
as Weitner
Carl Milletaire
as Clerk
Jack Daly
as Steward
Helen Spring
as Bidder

Crew

Alfred Hitchcock
Director
Alfred Hitchcock
Producer
Ernest Lehman
Screenwriter
Robert Burks
Cinematographer
Bernard Herrmann
Composer (Music Score)
George Tomasini
Editor
Merrill Pye
Art Director
Herbert Coleman
Associate Producer
Henry W. Grace
Set Designer
Arnold A. Gillespie
Special Effects
William J. Tuttle
Makeup
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