Monday, 9 March 2009

The Cheap-Arse Film Review #23- "NORTH BY NORTHWEST."

NAME: NORTH BY NORTHWEST

RATED: PG

RELEASED: 1959

WRITTEN BY: ERNEST LEHMAN

DIRECTED BY: ALFRED HITCHCOCK

STARRING: CARY GRANT, JAMES MASON, EVA MARIE SAINT, MARTIN LANDAU

GENRE: SPY THRILLER

BOUGHT FROM: CEX

PRICE: £1:00

At this point, there are certain words in the English language that mean absolutely nothing. "genius," for a start, used to be a word that summed up people who were at the very forefront of their chosen field and continuously coming up with things that changed both it and in some cases the very world around us. Now it's used to describe a man in a guerilla suit playing the drums (I'm not hating on the guerilla here, I just want to make sure everybody knows that). "Nazi?" Pfft. The second kids started calling their school dinner ladies this it may as well have been the name of a Care Bear. I have had friends who have been going out with women less than a month before they start introducing them to people as their "fiancee." That one really rubs me the wrong way for some reason. I think it's because is seems like something a child pretending to be an adult would say, which would be fine if we weren't all in at least our early twenties at this point. You planning on marrying her? Got even a rough date in mind? Does she have a ring? No? Then she's not you Fiancee, she's your girlfriend. Shut up.

Those are a few of the famous ones that get mentioned whenever this subject is brought up, but I'd like to throw "ashamed," and variations there of, into the ring. Because think about it, how many times in your life have you ever said you were "ashamed" of something when in reality you weren't? You felt bad about something, don't get me wrong, or you felt that something was really letting the side down, but you were never really ashamed. I don't think alot of people really know what being ashamed actually feels like. I didn't, not until the day I was at a family gathering and heard a relative, who has had a long battle with Cancer that has resulted in several surgeries, talk about how she redecorated two rooms in her house from scratch completely on her own, as I sat there thinking about how there are days I can't even be bothered to make the bed.

So I'm not going to say I'm ashamed of myself for not having seen more Alfred Hitchcock movies, but I will I'm... surprised at myself. I can't even be vague about the number, I know exactly how many I've seen- I've seen "Psycho," I've seen "The Birds," I've seen some of "Rear Window," and that's it. Worst of all, I can't really give a decent reason why. There's a chance it could be my contrary nature. Everytime somebody tells me I have to see something, or that I'll love this or that, I suddenly lose all desire to see it. It's probably a layover from me teenaged years when I had to be the first person to discover something, otherwise it was meaningless (yes, we've been over this before, I'm well aware I was a wanker). But I think it might also be because I feel like I've already seen so many of them. I've read about them and heard them talked about and seen clips of them and parodies of them on various TV shows that it's like I've seen them almost throught osmosis. It's not a Hitchcock movie, but take "Citizen Kane." I've not seen that movie... but I have, I really have. But for a pound (and I'm still amazed I was able to find this for that price, but the sticker doesn't lie), there was absolutely no way I was passing this up.

When people are asked to describe the kind of movies Hitchcock made, the word that comes up time and again is "crowd-pleasers." I love how this meant something completely different back in Hitchcock's time. Today, if you say this about a director's work, you're accusing them of pandering to the lowest common denominator and producing work of little artistic merit. Back in the fifties and sixties though, when he produced much of his classic work, crowds had grown so bored with the the same old shit that was being presented to them and craved something a bit different. And he gave them that- fascinating and occasionally unhinged characters, complex, thrilling and risque plots, shot in ways that pretty much changed the language of cinema forever. He understood that audiences no longer wanted to be held by the hand and taken on a gentle stroll, they wanted to be shot in the face. They were ready for something a bit more exciting.

Before I get onto the film, I'm going to indulge myself with a quick BOX REVIEW! This was released back in 2001, back when DVD was just starting to overshadow VHS, and it's got the same design as most of the boxes from that time, being made entirely from cardboard with the exception of where the disc sits and a little hinge-like lock that you had unclasp to open it. For some reason I've always liked these boxes. I think it's the clasp, and the chunky "CLICK" it make whenever you open or close it. The closing "CLICK" is more satisfying though. MMMMMMM. The one downside is these boxes get damaged alot easier than the plastic ones. It can't double-up as a coaster for instance, at least not without a ring ending up over Cary Grant's face (I literally just spent five minutes trying to come up with a decent gay joke and couldn't think of one. Obviously I'm not that creative tonight).

When the movie first started, I thought it was broken, because the MGM logo looked defective. For a start, the background was neon green, and the logo and lion themselves looked a bit like the negative of a photo. Fortunately this was by design, as the logo faded away, leaving just the background, giving way to one hell of a stylish credits sequence. It's really simple, just a bunch of black lines that look like the side of a building that the credits slide up that eventually fades away to reveal an actual building, but it looks so fucking cool. It sounds cool as well, thanks in part to the brilliant score by Bernard Hermann. I really don't talk enough about music in these things. I've said that before and made promises to change that, but the truth is I probably won't, which is weird because I love music and even collect movie soundtracks. The score here though is good enough for me to want to draw special attention to it, just as the disc itself does by ofering a music-only audio track. It's superb throughout, and this opening piece sums it up perfectly by managing to be creepy, exciting and almost whimsical all at once. Following this, we meet the film's main character, Roger Thornhill, played by Cary Grant. Grant's the kind of guy you get the feeling is always playing himself in everything, but like any good movie star, he gets away with it on a mixture of good looks (he's still quite a handsome man here despite his advancing years), charisma and a way with words, even those not his own. And he has a real vitality about him in this movie, you really believe he wouldn't just stand back and let the things that happened to him happen, that he would see them through to the very end. We discover very quickly (and one of the things I like about this script is that it's quite good with exposition and tells us just what we need to know when we need to know it) that he works in advertising, as he leaves a building with his assistant, rattling off a bunch of things for her to do (which includes sending a woman he's seeing a box of chocolates wrapped in gold paper and a not that reads, "Something for your sweet tooth baby, and all your other sweet parts." I may steal this) as they get into a cab that he scams off someone by claiming she's gravely ill. As he gets out to attend a meeting in what looks to be a hotel bar, he tells her to call his mother, only for him to then remember that she's out playing bridge tonight just as the cab pulls away. Feeling bad about his mistake, he calls over the waiter to ask if it's possible for him to seen a telegram to her, with the waiter saying he personally can't, but Thornhill can, pointing him in the direction of where to go.

And this proves to be the decision that turns Thorhill's life upside down, because he summoned the waiter at the exact time he's asking if a Mr. George Caplin is in the bar, making it look like he's responding to the waiter calling his name. This leads to two obvious goons, one wearing a hat straight ot of a "Dick Tracy" comic strip, the other with a fantastically square head, assuming he is Caplin. I want to mention how subtly this is all done. The first time I watched this,I didn't notice the waiter asking if Caplin was present, and found the two goons thinking Thornhill was him to be a little bit wacky. But now I'm just in awe of how masterfully done it was. It makes sense that you wouldn't notice it, because Thornhill himself doesn't. This moment is never mentioned again. I do feel a little bit sorry for the people who first watched this 50 years ago. In this day and age, if you missed an important plot point like that, such as I did, you can easily go back an rewatch it to see what passed you by. Back then, if you weren't on the ball, you were fucked, basically.

Thornhill gets up to send the telegram and immediately finds himself escorted into the back of a car at gun-point. This is less than six minutes into a two hour movie. Absolutely no fucking around, let's just get into this thing. He's driven to a large house owned by a man called Lester Townsend, and introduced to someone who claims to be this person, although we later find out he's really called Philip Vandamm and is just using this place whilst the real owner is away. Vandamm is played by James Mason, an actor I find it almost impossible to take seriously whenever I watch him. And I'll tell you why, it's because of that one bloody Eddie Izzard gag where he impersonated him. Eddie totally obliterated him, to the point that now whenever he's on-screen, even here, I keep waiting for him to say, "It is my duty as a cockney man," in that strange voice of his. Another example of an actor destroyed by comedy. I will say that he's good here though, suitably oily and unpleasent, and that voice actually works in this role. He should have been a Bond villain, really. Vandamm and Thornhill have a stalemate of a conversation, with Vandamm insisting that Thornhill is Caplin and that he tell him what he wants to know if he's to live, and Thornhill being absolutely adamant that he is infact not this man and doesn't know what he's talking about. This doesn't go down very well, and ends with Vandamm attempting to follow through with his theat to end Thornhill's life. He doesn't do it himself though, he has his goons, lead by Leonard (played by an almost unrecognisably young Martin Landau) do the dirty work, which they go about doing in a very creative way- rather than just blow his brains out, they force Thornhill to drink an entire bottle or Bourbon, then attempt to drive a car into the ocean with him in it to make it look like an accident. It's a decent plan, but it would seem they didn't count on him regaining conciousness at the last minute, as he does, kicking the goon doing the driving out of his car and attemting to drive away. "Attempting" being the word, as he's drunk as a Lord and nearly does their work for them by almost driving off the road himself. He survives though, and a chase ensues, and I think it's safe to say it's not exactly comparable to the one from "Bullitt." A decent job is done of showing that Thornhill is as much a danger to himself as the people chasing him are though, and Hitchcock also comes up with a very creative way of showing the confusion that must occur when driving drunk (and I can only assume, since I don't have a licence and can't even legally drive sober), by super-imposing two roads over each other.

It ends with a crash, as these things often do, only Thornhill is unlucky enough to crash into a police car and get dragged to the local court house to spend the night in a cell. Grant is hilarious as a drunk in this scene, being harmlessly belligerant, making wild claims about men trying to kill him with "a gun, some Bourbon and a sports car", and demanding to call his mother, who seems to offer him little sympathy. We actually meet her in the next scene, that being the court hearing the next day when Thornhill makes his admittedly wild claim to the Judge, and she's brilliant, this acerbic, sarcastic woman who's very quick to write her own son off as a lunatic. She briefly teams up with him following this, and their scenes together are enough to make me wish she was in the whole movie. In order to prove he's telling the truth, Frank takes the Judge, his Mother and some other people from the court to the Townsend place, and as you'd expect, he's completely stiched-up. All the physical evidence of his story is gone- there's no Bourbon stains on the couch where it was spilt, there's not even any booze in the little bar, only books. Then things get worse when a woman shows up claiming to be Townsend's wife, who says there'd been a party there last night and that Thornhill had made quite a spectacle of himself. The final nail in the coffin is hammered in when she says Thornhill is a key note speaker of the United Nations that day, leading everybody to now completely write-off Thornhil's story, which none of them were really buying to begin with.

But thornhill's not taking this lying down, oh no. The day before in "his" office, Vandamm had read off a list of places Caplin had stayed recently in an attempt to show that they'd had him monitored and knew he was lying when he claimed not to be him. Using this to his advantage, he and his mother get a key to the room (after Thornhill bribes his own mother to sweet-talk the clerk, which is something I find both hilarious and disturbing) and go investigate. Their, they bump into a couple of hotel employees who just assume Thornhill is Caplin because, as they reveal when pressed, none of them have actually seen Caplin in the flesh, even though he has them do things like clean his suit regularly. This is getting curiouser and curiouser, but sadly they don't get alot of time to mull things over, as Thornhil is both silly enough to answer the phone and unlucky enough to have the man on the other end of the line be Vandamm, who's now more convinced that Thornhill is Caplin than ever (he continues to claim otherwise, but Vandamm's all like, "You're in his hotel room, dickhead") and has dispatched two of his goons to take him out (see? Revealing his plan ahead of his time. Total Bond villain). Realising they have to get out of their, Thornhill and his mother hurry, but aren't fast enough to avoid the goons, who get in the same crowded elevator car. He motion towards them for his mother in a "They're the guys!" manner, and due to the fact that she's still not really buying any of this, she brilliantly comes straight out and asks them, "You're not really trying to kill my son, are you?" They start laughing. We'll, what else is there to do? Then she starts laughing, and soon everybody in the elevator is laughing except Thornhill, who dashes out and into the back of a cab the second the door opens, his mother yelling, "WILL YOU BE HOME FOR DINNER!?" after him. This is sadly the last we see of her, although I don't think she could have had a more perfect last line.

Deciding to confront the bull head-on, Thornhill goes to the United Nations intent on speaking to the man he believed is Townsend, now armed with a photo of what he thinks is him that he found in Caplin's hotel room. He even goes by the name of Caplin, so he'd have no doubt who it is. In a twist that leaves him completely bamboozled however, the Townsend that responds to the page isn't the man he met the previous evening. He tries to make sense of all that's happening, asking if he's aware if anybody's staying at his house at this time, with him saying only his gardener and his gardener's wife (which we assume is Vandamm, since we see him doing some gardening when Thornhill and the court showed up at the house), and he's about to be shown the picture Thronhill has on him when, BAM! Knife outta nowhere to the back, thrown by one of the goons Thornhill thought he'd lost. This assassination scene is done incredible well. It would have been very easy to have had the two men in shot close enough that all we'd see is Townsend react to the knife and then keel over, but Hitchcock set it up in such a way that you actually see the knife fly in from the right side of the screen and seemingly land in the actor's back. It's a fairly shocking moment that actually go a reaction out of me. Not a massive one, just a little "wow," but a reactions all the same. There would be bigger reactions to come though. So the real Townsend is now dead, and this all happened so fast that all people now see is Thornhill standing over the guy's body with the knife in his hands (why he took the knife out of the poor man, I don't know. I think this was known to be absolutely the wrong thing to do even 50 years ago). You'd think with this being one of the most important buildings in the world security would be all over him, but no, all he does is wave the knife about a bit, scream "GET BACK!" and then leg it out the front door into a cab. This is one of those moments where logic has been thrown out of the window in order to advance the plot, and bless him, but not even Hitchcock was immune to it.

We then finally get our first hint to what might be going on when we're taken to the the meeting room where a group of people, who we later find out are part of the FBI, are discussing the Thornhill/Caplin situation, as it and a picture of him has made the front page of every paper in America. It's here we find out the reason nobody has seen Caplin is because there is no Caplin- he's a decoy agent they made up and went to the trouble of establishing patterns of behaviour for in order to draw the heat off the real agent they have within Vandamm's organisation. Rather than come up with a way to help this poor man out, they decide to do nothing, because as The Professor (Leo G. Carroll) puts it, "... we could congratulate ourselves on a mavelous piece of good fortune, our non-existant decoy George Caplin, created to divert attention from our actual agent, has fortuitously become a live decoy." It may seem callus, as one of the women in the room puts it, but I can see where they're coming from here, as they're trying to fight for what they believe is the greater good, and this man is entirely expendable. Not that this helps Thornhill himself though, as when we return to him he's about to attempt boarding a train to Chicago to continue his hunt for Caplin, whom he believes to have travelled there that morning, following one last call to his mother. I thought it might be revealed that she still severely doubted him and was tipping off the police about his whereabouts (which I think would have been hilarious), but the film doesn't go down this road. Instead, the next scene is another example of how Hitchcock loves to try and build tension, turning the walk the now sunglasses-clad Thornhill (that'll fool 'em) has to make across the train station to the ticket booth into something comparible to crossing a minefield- everywhere you look people are reading and holding papers, there are police swarming around, and the place is just packed. It seems impossible that Thornhll should be able to get on this train undetected. And he doesn't, getting placed by the clerk who immediately puts in a call to the police. Having the sense to realise he's been rumbled, Thornhill runs off whilst the clerk is on the phone. Unfortunately in doing this he draws even more attention to himself by attempting to get on the train without a ticket. So now he has not only two police officers after him but an angry ticket collector, too. Things look bleak.

Enter Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint). She helps Thornhill evade the cops (simply by stashing him in her room and telling the guys after him, "He went that-a-way!" making them look like sub-Keystone Cops buffoons), and then spend the entire journey trying to fuck him. No, really, that's what she does. During some downtime in Thornhill's hide-a-seek with the ticket collectors on-board, he ends up sitting at the same table as her in the dining car, and they spend almost the entire conversation talking about boning. Choice excerpts- Thornhill: "The moment I meet an attractive woman I have to start pretending I have no desire to make love to her." Eve: "I never discuss love on an empty stomach" (note: she originally said "sex," not "love," but the censors made Hitchcock dub over that line). Eve: "It's going to be a long night... and I don't particularly like the book I've started... y'know what I mean?" I love putting myself in the shoes of the people from the time the movie I'm watching was originally released. I can only imagine how shocking all this must have been, and also laugh at the fact that today all it warrants is a PG rating. Eva Marie Saint is so fucking sexy as well. The first time I watched this I thought she was a bit blank and unexciting, but upon second viewing I realised what she brought to the table. She has these amazing eyes and a purring voice that makes you feel like you're being gently stroked by very fine sandpaper (this feels very nice, trush me). They manage to squeeze in a few other topics as well, such as how she knows who he really is and what he's been accused of, but assures him she won't tell anybody because he has, "a nice face." She even hides him again, this time from the cops who board the tran looking for him, and they finally get down to it in her room. This is left to our imaginations.

So, as you've probably figured out right now, Eve is, or at the very least appears to be in league with Vandamm, who is also on the train, and whom she slips a note asking what she should do with Thornhill tomorrow. Now, later the film wants us to feel bad for Thornhill and this betrayal, but the truth is he comes across as a bit of a horny moron for falling for it in the first place. I mean, I don't care how beautiful the woman is, at some point you'd think somebody would stop and say to themselves, "Hang on a second here- weird shit is happening in my life, and this is just another example of it. Could it be that these things are related?" But Thornhill doesn't, and as such pretty much walks into a trap crotch-first. The next day, once they've snuck him off the train dressed as a baggage handler, Eve gives him a piece of paper with the time and the place where he can supposedly meet Caplin. This turns out to be a bus stop in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by crop fields, and...

... oh shit, I know what happens next. I know exactly what happens next, because I've seen it parodied on "Family Guy." See? See what I mean about having seen movies I haven't seen? SEE?! Anyway, one of the things I loved about this particular scene is how slow it is. Most directors would have been itching to get into the excitement, but Hitchcock understood that it was all in the build and the delay. So we see Thornhill standing by the side of this road waiting, a car passes, still waiting, another car passes, still waiting, another car passes, and yep, still waiting, as a plane flies around in the background dusting the crops. Finally a car pulls over and a man gets out, standing at the bus stop on the other side of the road. Of course, we know there's no chance this is Caplin, because we know Caplin doesn't exist, but Thornhill doesn't know this, so he ventures over to him to have a conversation, only to be disappointed to discover this isn't his man. Before the gentleman gets on the bus, he looks over at the plane, and remarks how strange it it is that it appears to be dusting where there are no crops. He departs, and then the plane suddenly changes course and heads straigh for Thornhill, buzzing him, the pilot even shooting at him. And we know just how completely Thornhill is screwed, because at the beginning Hitchcock had seen fit to give us a wide shot establishing just how open and remote this place is. There's really nowhere to run to (baby), nowhere to hide. Well, almost nowhere, as Thornhill thinks on his feet and hides amongst some dead corn crops, making it difficult for the pilot to spot him. This only works momentarily, as the plane smokes him out by dropping the chemicals it was previously using to dust crops onto him. Desperate, he tries to flag down a passing gas truck, only for it to nearly hit him. It stops so the driver can see if he's alright, then the plane comes hurtling towards them, hits the truck and (this was my genuine reaction to what happened next) HOLY SHIT THE PLANE JUST EXPLODED! I really wasn't expecting that, and due to that fact, for a few seconds I thought this was the greatest special effect I'd ever seen. Some cars pull over to see what's happened, and in the chaos, Thornhill steals one of them and makes off to safety. That was a scene worthy of parody. Awesome.

Thornhill reaches the hotel that Caplin is supposed to be staying in, only to be told that he's moved on again, this time to South Dakota, and before he can resume the chase, he see Eve walking through the lobby and gets that squinty, "The Plot Thickens" look on his face. Getting her room number from the clerk (and really, why are the clerks in this film so free and easy with their guest's information? Was it just a different time back then?), he goes up to see her, and after she hugs him in a manner that implies she's relieved he's alive, what follows on the surface is a continuation of their meeting on the trai, only now the delivery of the dialogue and the underlining subtext makes it appear more sinister- he insists on her not leaving his sight, outwardly because he doesn't want to be away with her but inwardly because he no longer trusts her, and she very bluntly tells him to leave, trying to seem like what happened between them meant nothing to her, but in reality probably trying to save his life. In the end she appears to relent, getting him to have his suit cleaned (subtext- so he won't be able to follow her wherever she's going) and taking a note on the phone as he appears tp be in the shower, before leaving. He then does the old "scribbling a pencil over a piece of paper that was under a sheet that's just been written on" trick that all good school children know, and when his suit's clean, he goes to find her and whoever she's with at their place of meeting.

Ths turns out to be an auction for fine art, where he finds her sitting with Vandamm. Outraged, he confronts the pair of them, saying such things about Eve as, "Isn't everybody?" when Leonard asks her if he spent the night in her room, reducing her to tears and causing her to attempt to slap him. "Who are you kidding," he says to her, "you have no feeling to hurt." Ouch. Growing tired of this, Vandamm leaves with Eve, leaving Leonard and the goons covering all the exits, ready to pounce on Thornhill the second he attempts to leave. Showing some shrewdness however, he realises the only way he's going to get out of this room alive is in police custody, so he sets about making a mockery of te proceeding, bidding backwards, bidding against himself, claiming the art is fake and finally getting into a fist fight. The police drag him away, and he gleefully informs them that they've hit the jackpot, having nabbed the United Nations killer. They call this in, but instead of being told to take him to the station, they're told instead to take him to the nearest airport, which displeases Thornhill, since he believes the safest place for him right now is in a cell.

Of course he's soon told otherwise when at the airport he's met with The Professor, who was in the crowd at the auction, and who fills him in finally on what's been happening in his life, why it's been all but destroyed, and what exactly Vandamm does- turns out he's a Russian spy selling government secrets. He then asks him to come with him to Mount Rushmore and be Caplin one more time to ensure the safety of their agent, who they now believe Vandamm suspects. Thornhill of course at first tells them to get bent, but his attitude soon changes when he's told that (DUN DUN DUUUUUUUN!)(do I do that too much?) Eve is the double agent, and in having her nearly slap him, he showed to Vandamm that she had feelings for him, which now makes him doubt her. So, off they go to Mount Rushmore, where a very elaborate plan is set in motion- Thornhill meets with Vandamm and tells him he knows he's flying out of the country that night, and that he'll see to it nothing stops the plane as long as he leave Eve with him, so he an pin everything on her and make her pay for betraying him. There's some confusion, and the plan seems to go horrible wrong when Eve pulls a gun on Thornhill and shoots him (yeah, I think that classifies as "horribly wrong"). She flees, and he's taken away in an ambulance...

... only for them to later meet up in the woods. As it turns out, this was their big plan, their way of stopping Vandamm suspecting her whilst also conveniently killing off Caplin at the same time. The Professor arranges for them to meet up so that they can explain themselves to each other, with Thornhill immediately forgiving her. "All in the line of duty," he says, which I suppose is true, even if she did pretty much sell him down the river to save herself. They kiss, he talks about them being together when this is all over, and then it comes out that she's going away with Vandamm to continue keeping tabs on him. Thornhill goes into a rage, saying how it's not fair they ask her to "bed down" with men like Vandamm in order to win The Cold War, and when he tries to stop her driving away, gets knocked the fuck out by The Professor's driver. We next see him pacing up and down his hotel room in just a towel (steady, ladies...), listening to the radio report on "Caplin's" shooting, before he has some new clothes brought to him by The Professor. He play acts (and even in-character it's obvious that's what he's doing) that he's calmed down and no longer has any interest in saving Eve, but the second he's alone he escapes, climbng out the window, shimmying across the ledge, and climbing through another window to a room that doesn't have a locked door, but does have a woman in it that seems to... instantly fall in love with him. "STOP!" she yells, then puts her glasses on, gets a good look at him and, as he's about to leave, huskily says, "stop." O... kay then.

He goes up to Vandamm's place, which appears to be situated on top of Mount Rushmore, and spies on he and Leonard having a conversation about Eve, and how Leonard still doesn't trust her, calling it "women's intuition" (um...). He then pulls out a gun and seems to shoot Vandamm, only for him to reveal that he found it in Eve's bag, and it's full of blanks, meaning she couldn't have shot Thornhill/Caplin. Vandamm responds to his friend making him believe he was about to murder him by PUNCHING HIM IN THE FACE! Most realistic part of the movie, folks. Followed swiftly by perhaps the least realistic moment, when Eve enters the room and asks if anybody heard that noice. Oh come on, a gun just went off in the next room. You're telling me you could only just hear that? Anyway, they decide to take care of her on the flight over, leaving Thornhill with not much time to warn her. He gets into her room by scaling the wall (is he now just a secret agent? Can he do all this stuff because they simply think he can?), but just misses her. He then writes her a warning on the box of matches he owns with his initials stencilled on them that she'd noticed during their first meeting on the train, and throws it at her from upstairs. He misses her though, and there's a tense moment when Leonard sees the box (that really did have me on the edge of my seat), before just casually tossing it onto the table. She sees it, reads the message, and they have a brief meeting upstairs, where he tells her they're going to kill her on the flight, saying he'll help her escape. She leaves with Vandamm and Leonard, and Thornhill makes to be in hot persuit, until the housekeeper spots him in the reflection of thetelevisin and pulls a gun on him.

So Eve keeps looking back at the house for him, waiting for him to appear, they're at the plane, he's not arrived, she's about to get on... when two shots ring out and Thornhill runs out of the house, steals a car and whisks Eve away, saying he realised that the gun the housekeeper had on him was the gun with the blanks in it. They drive until they have to abandon the car, and... fuck me, I know this bit too! This is the chase down Mount Rushmore! This was parodied on "Family Guy" as well! Infact, I think it may have been the same episode, the one where Mel Gibson was trying to get back the only existing copy of "Passion of the Christ 2: Crucify This" (which incidently makes my top five list of fake movie I wish were real) from Peter. Sigh. Anyway, for what it's worth, and surprisingly for a Hitchcock movie, there isn't much suspense here. I think it might have something to do with the fact that it's almost too realistic, in that it's slow and features people carefully trying not to lose their footing. The set also looks quite fake, which doesn't help. Anyway, it ends with Eve hanging onto Thornhill's hand for dear life, as he hangs onto the rock face (I suppose there's no other kind of rock at Mount Rushmore, is there?)(geddit?)(because they're faces... carved into rocks). Leonard starts to tread on his hand, it looks like they're both about to fall, until a shot rings out, being fired by the police and The Professor, who have showed up to save the day. Then Thornhill pulls Eve up, then their in a room on a train in their pajamas, he calls her "Mrs. Thornhill," then the movies ends. I'm serious, that abruptly. I know I've reviewed film before where the ending seem to come out of nowhere, but the one doesn't so much end as just... stop. In a way it was hilarious, because it came so suddenly I just burst out laughing. I suppose it fits with the whole "no bullshit" thing I mentioned earlier though, so I guess it makes sense in that regard.

I tell you, after the last movie I covered, this one has totally refilled my soul and made me believe in cinema again. It's a great example of a blockbuster, really- it suspenseful, it looks and sounds amazing, it's funny (the best line is when Thornhill's hanging off Mount Rushmore and says to Eve that his previous two wives left him because he lived "too dull a life"), it's populated by a hero you care about, a "boo-hiss" baddie who you want to see taken down, and a beautiful love interest. Shit even blows up! I'm telling you now, this year I will go to see a supposed action movie in cinemas and be able to say that it can't hold a candle to this. At least one. Not "Transformers" though, that's going to be amazing.

FINAL VERDICT

KEPT!Alfred Hitchcock, ladies and gentlemen. Genius.

Before I leave, a couple of things. Firstly, a heads up straight away- there's a very good chance next week's review will be late. I'm going ot try for it not to be, believe me, but the fact is, writing-wise I have alot on my plate at the moment, ncluding something that's very near-and-dear to my heart (anybody reading this who knows me probably knows what I'm talking about), and if anything takes priority, that does at least for a week. It won't be massively late if indeed it is at all, just a couple of days, but since I've been a bit of a prick with my time-keeping over the last few weeks, I thought it only fair that I give a warning if I even know the engine might break down.

Secondly, and on a much happier note, a couple of reviews ago, I made mention of some kind of announcment that I had to make. Well, I put off saying anything until it was really official, but as of today I can start talking- I have joined the writing team over at killerfilm.com. Don't worry, I'm not abondoning Blogger or anything like that, but in two weeks time they'll start republishing my old reviews every fortnight, and hopefully expose me to a whole new audience. Until that starts, I have a brand new introduction to myself and what I do up here, so if you want you can go over there and take a look at it. And whilst you're there, please take a look at some of the other content. The people there seem really nice, and I'd like to see them continue to grow and also be a part of that growth. It's all rather exciting, really.

Until next week, I'm The Cheap-Arse Film Critic, and when one is in Egypt, one should delve deeply into its treasures.

2 comments:

Dave said...

Hey Critic,

I would have to say that your reviews are the deepest and most well thought out reviews I've read. You really get neck deep in these things.

I started a new gaming blog that is 100% free of ads and whatnot and just wanted to give you the heads up. The blog is 8-Bit Memoirs 2.0, feel free to check it out!

Thanks again and great review!

bjoly said...

Citizen Kane is NOT worth a pound. Trust me on this. I was nearly run out of film school for saying that is was a piece of crap. With all the love and respect due to Orsen Welles, it is simply a hatchet job on WR Hearst and is a three hour snore. Apart from that warning I just want to agree with what Dave up there said, I love reading your reviews, keep it up.

bjoly