North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

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North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

Post by Admin on Sun Oct 18, 2015 9:12 am

Identify the genre(s) [if applicable], the main plot points and the clichés [if any].

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Re: North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

Post by MATTBARR96 on Thu Nov 05, 2015 1:25 am

Alfred Hitchcock's 1959 film 'North by Northwest' contains many of the generic conventions of the spy thriller genre, such as its fast paced action scenes and its dramatic score provided by Bernard Hermann, who was particularly noted for his collaborations with Hitchcock on several of his films. 

'North by Northwest' opens up by introducing us to the protagonist, Roger Thornhill, who is revealed to be atypical of the spy hero archetype. He is an unassuming advertising executive who finds himself kidnapped at gun point in a case of mistaken identity, his mysterious captors believing him to be a spy by the name of George Kaplan. They attempt to stage his death after forcing him to become intoxicated by alcohol, however he comes to his senses at the last moment and a car chase ensues, before attracting the attention of an on duty police officer. Despite recanting the tale of his ordeal the police remain unconvinced and charge Thornhill with driving under the influence.
 
 Whilst attempting to clear his name Thornhill is framed for the assassination of a UN official, forcing him to go on the run and in search of the illusive George Kaplan for whom he has been mistaken. Thornhill catches a train to chicago with the intention of tracking down Kaplan to his last known location although becomes seduced by Eva Kendall, whom it is revealed is working with Vandamm, the man responsible for Thornhills abduction. Kendall sends Thornhill into a trap, where men try to flatten him in a crop duster and shoot at him with automatic weapons in a spectacular action set piece, which ends in a fiery explosion when the crop duster collides with an oil tanker at low altitude. The mens failure to kill Thornhill allows him to arrive at Kaplans last known location only to find Kendall already there.

 Now aware she has set him up Thornhill follows her to a meeting with Vandamm and his other henchman. Before they can finish him off Thornhill creates a scene in order to get himself arrested, following which the police officers deliver him to a man known as the professor who reveals that Kaplan doesn't exist, the character was created to throw Vandamm off the scent of the real agent, Kendall. Reluctantly Thornhill agrees to continue masquerading as Kaplan in order to free Kendall from Vandamm. Thornhill demands Vandamm turn Kendall over so she can be prosecuted, resulting in Kendall appearing to shoot Thornhill several times at close range with a handgun, leaving him for dead and making her escape. 

 In the immediate scene it is revealed the gun contained blanks and Thornhill survived the encounter. As he and Kendall share a romantic moment in the forest it is revealed that Kendall's work remains unfinished and she must remain in her undercover role. Thornhill is taken to hospital to treat his false injuries as a cover by the professor to keep him there under custody, to prevent him from compromising Kendall's position. Regardless Thornhill makes his escape by climbing out of a window and heads to Vandamms lair on Mt. Rushmore, where he discovers Vandamm knows that Kendall's weapon contained blank rounds and plans to kill her on their impending flight. Thornhill manages to warn her and the pair escape towards the monument with government secrets that Vandamm had obtained. The climax of the film features a showdown on top of Mt. Rushmore as Thornhill fends off Vandamms henchmen, before the professor arrives with a park ranger who shoots the man before he can push Thornhill and Kendall to their deaths. The film ends on the reveal that the pair survived the ordeal and have become married. 

The film shares many similar characteristics that may be found in other films that belong in the spy genre, for instance the James Bond films, which may be considered to be cliches. One such example of this is the charming, smooth talking spy, portrayed in 'North by Northwest' by Cary Grant. Another plot point that may be considered a cliche is the attractive blonde love interest who sparks up a romantic relationship with the films protagonist and wind up being together by the films end. Another recurring factor of films in this genre are the themes of being on the run, being chased across multiple famous locations and the action set pieces that make up the content of the film, such as the iconic scene featuring the crop duster.

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Re: North by Northwest (Alfred Hitchcock, 1959)

Post by Admin on Sun Nov 15, 2015 8:40 pm

Some punctuation missing but it does not affect meaning, mostly pace. Do make sure, however, that you review your assignments for punctuation.

You mention stereotypes and clichés at the end, which was the main exercise. I particularly agree with the blonde love interest. Not mentioned, but the use of sunglasses is now almost a must for a spy film, but it wasn't as extended back then. The use of alcohol to stage a suicide or accident in a car is another cliché nowadays. Also: the woman in need, who needs to be saved, the shot of someone hanging off a cliff where the action takes place in the mountains/difficult terrain. Not a cliché, but it is worth mentioning that the film makes great use of location and there are some incredible scenes due to this, despite many other scenes filmed in the studio. The framing has been carefully thought and highlights relationships and suspense.

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