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Alfred Hitchcock: The Shape of Suspense

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
7:00 p.m. North by Northwest
Alfred Hitchcock (U.S., 1959)

Student Pick!
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Hitchcock dubbed this exhilarating comedy-thriller “my final word on the chase film.” In 1959 the train as setting and sexual symbol makes a brief but glorious comeback before the era of road movies gets underway. NNW cynically locks horns with the American male identity crisis and, one might say, emerges with a call for individuality for the decade to come. Cary Grant’s Roger O. Thornhill (“O for Nothing”) is your basic grey-flannel-suited adman, until he is mistaken by the police for an assassin and by an international spy ring for a double agent. The ensuing chase carries him across the American landscape, where an effort to expunge him like just one more rural insect makes him fighting mad, and every national monument presents a new challenge to his true identity, not to mention his life.

—Judy Bloch

• Written by Ernest Lehman. Photographed by Robert Burks. With Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Jessie Royce Landis. (136 mins, Color, 35mm, From Warner Bros.)