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North by Northwest
BLU-RAY disk
6 years ago By: Chris Bumbray
North by Northwest order
Director:
Alfred Hitchcock

Actors:
Cary Grant
James Mason
Eve Marie Saint

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant), an urbane, sophisticated Madison Avenue exec, finds his life turned upside down after heís mistaken for a spy named George Kaplan. Narrowly escaping the clutches of the nefarious Philip Vandamn (James Mason), Thornhill finds himself in even more trouble when heís framed for the murder of a UN Ambassador. Forced to stowaway on a train bound for Chicago, Thornhill meets a cool blonde named Eve Kendall (Eve Marie Saint), who may or may not be working for Vandamn.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
NORTH BY NORTHWEST, alongside FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT (strange choice- I know) probably ranks as my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film. While itís not as deep as VERTIGO, or as chilling as PSYCHO, itís probably the most fun film Hitchcock ever made. Itís a perfect blend of suspense, comedy, adventure and romance, anchored by a career best performance from star Cary Grant- who, to this day, remains a classic icon of cool.

Grantís one of those icons, like Humphrey Bogart, or James Cagney thatís truly one of a kind. The only modern actor I can think of that compares to Grant, in terms of suavity is probably George Clooney, but even thatís stretching it. There was really something special about Grant. Here, despite the fact that he was in his mid-fifties by the time the cameras rolled, Grant was truly in top form. He's slick without ever seeming like heís posing, charming without being arrogant, and heroic without being over the top- all the while maintaining an everyman appeal that a lot of his contemporaries did not possess. Put him together with Hitchcock- and you canít lose (and sure enough they didnít, with all of their films together being excellent in one way or another).

I really canít over praise this film. Thereís a reason why it's such a beloved classic- as it really is a perfect film. Despite running a lengthy 2hrs and 15min, the film feels leaner than lean. Hitchcock was a master at pacing, and he doesnít waste a single frame. The two action set pieces, one being the famous crop-duster chase, and the other being the final climax on Mount Rushmore- put anything out of most modern action movies to shame. Despite the fact that Iíve probably seen this dozens of times over the years, I found myself biting my nails over and over again.

THE EXTRAS
Extras: Considering its stature, itís not a surprise that we get ourselves a hefty selection of bonus features. First and foremost is a surprisingly candid PBS American Masters documentary on Grant called Cary Grant: A Class Apart running just under ninety minutes. Itís a phenomenal look at Grantís life and work- with no stone left unturned. EVERYTHING is addressed here- including all the gay rumors, and his LSD experimentation.

We also get a new documentary on Hitch, The Masterís Touch: Hitchcockís Signature Style , running just under an hour, with input from directors William Friedkin, Guillermo del Toro, Curtis Hanson, and Martin Scorsese. These directors return in another featurette called NORTH BY NORTHWEST: One For The Ages

Ported over from the previous DVD, we get an audio commentary with writer Ernest Lehman , and yet another documentary- the forty minute Destination Hitchcock: The Making of NORTH BY NORTHWEST . Completing the set, we get trailers , which Hitchcock hosts himself, as was his custom, trading off his newfound celebrity status from ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, and some vintage TV spots .

FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Truly, this is a perfect disc. Itís a perfect film with a perfect transfer, perfect extras- heck, even the book style casing in perfect. I really canít recommend this one highly enough. Easily the best blu-ray of the year so far, and one Iíll be spinning often in the years to come.
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