01 October 2012

North by Northwest

It is entirely possible that Hitchcock, much like raw oysters, capers, and martinis, is something you need to acquire a taste for. I am happy to report that I think I have arrived: my palate has finally matured enough to genuinely enjoy his films. I used to find them somewhat dull, and really didn't like the way he told stories. But in the last year or so, something changed, and now I find him absolutely mesmerizing. Last night, my friend Daniel and I watched North by Northwest. I had been totally unimpressed by it the first time I saw it, but this time, I was enthralled. Cary Grant plus Hitchcock - what a pair!

I'm not going to spend too much time analyzing the plot, because as everyone knows, Hitchcock movies are essentially the basis of all film theory anyhow. North by Northwest is a delightful reflection on identity and how it can change (the fluid boundaries between the everyman and the spy), and has plenty of Freudian drama, but mostly, it's just an entertaining movie. Visually, it's stunning - wonderful geometric compositions that are strongly reminiscent of Orson Welles, and of course, a deliriously decadent (though slightly ridiculous) final sequence on Mt Rushmore.

What really struck me about the movie though, was how incredibly sexy it is. Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint are sizzling in the train scene, and their witty banter is some of the most erotically charged dialogue I've seen in quite a long time - you would never imagine that you'd hear it in a movie released in 1959. It's pretty fabulous. The other thing I enjoyed was an early scene of drunkenness - I tell you what, those old classic movies did drunk right. Cary Grant, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart - they are some of the most hilarious yet accurate drunks you will ever see on screen. Great fun.

I'm looking forward to watching a lot more Hitchcock. It's like a whole new world of pleasures has opened up before me.


Camilleon said...

Hmm...I'm intrigued.

Nicholas said...

Watch Spellbound and Rope. My two favorites of his.