Box art for North By Northwest

North By Northwest

drama, thrillers

Cary Grant stars as a Madison Avenue advertising exec who is mistaken for someone else and kidnapped by a group of international spies, headed by James Mason.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 11
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
1 out of 5
Positive messages
3 out of 5
Positive role models
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Witty Hitchcock thriller piles on suspense and innuendo.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Hitchcock classic includes suspenseful scenes such as a forced drunken car chase on windy roads and a crop duster chase with shooting and an explosion. Typical of the era, there's drinking of hard liquor and smoking, with a seductive lighting-up featured in one scene. More seductive elements include forward sexual banter and some kissing -- the clothes stay on but there's a mention that the main characters slept together in their train car. It's also worth noting that the main character undergoes a big transformation, from fast-talking and unscrupulous ad exec to a man who risks his own life to find out the truth that will exonerate him.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the lasting appeal of Hitchcock movies. What makes this film a classic? What are some techniques that he uses that you've seen used in other movies?
  • Talk about who Roger Thornhill is at the beginning and the end of this movie. Has the experience made him a better person? What is the underlying message of the movie?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Often considered one of Hitchcock's Hollywood-era 'masterpieces', North by Northwest is a great achievement. Sure, it borrows here and there from a few earlier Hitchcock films, but is put together and made so well, that it becomes a film all its own. It's got quite a good mix of both comedy and thriller elements, both handled very well. The acting is great, although Eva Marie Saint's character would have been more suited to someone like Grace Kelly. Overall, a fantastic joyride of a film.

- cosmo313, Monday, July 5, 2010

3 stars

North by Northwest reminds me of Vertigo more than any of the other Hitchcock movies that I've seen. Both of them are his versions of "blockbusters", with the pacing and action scenes of a good summer movie. I enjoyed both of them to about the same degree, as well. It's a pretty thrilling ride, I must say. A case of mistaken identity leads Cary Grant into a web of narrow escapes, murders, espionage, chases, and general peril. He meets the requisite icy blonde along the way (who may be friend or foe), and most of the other Hitchcockian flourishes are present in some degree. North by Northwest is also pretty damn funny. I laughed more than a few times at Grant's pithy quips and his mutually aggressive banter with Eva Marie Saint as Eve Kendall. Who just happens also be another gorgeous woman in a leading Hitchcock role. Who could have guessed? This is a pretty good movie for anyone unfamiliar with Alfred Hitchcock to start with. It's entertaining enough in traditional ways that it will appeal to people who may have yet to become addicted to Hitchcock's style. I say "yet", because North by Northwest will probably speed you on your way to becoming hooked.

- lewiskendell, Monday, June 7, 2010

4 stars

I made the stunning discovery today that I don't think I have ever seen this all the way through! I sat down to do just that, and found several scenes that I don't remember seeing before. Crazy. Anyway, the new scenes did little to take away from this quality flick. Cary Grant is of course his gorgeous suave manly self, and James Mason was suitably sinister. I particularly enjoyed Eva Marie Saint though. I was wishing I could be as forward with men I desired as she is with Cary Grant in the train dining car -- one of my favorite flirtation/seduction scenes in cinema. The only thing that flaws this film for me is the idea that so many people could be manipulated into and/or trusted to participate in the various stings and conspiracies on which the plot is dependent. Everyone seems capable of keeping secrets and everybody carries out their role perfectly. That's giving humans far more credit than they deserve, and entirely discounts the moron factor prevalent in real life. Memorable line -- "...I have two ex-wives and several bartenders dependent on me...."

- webalina, Friday, May 14, 2010