North by Northwest

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Cast: Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason, Jessie Royce Landis, Leo G. Carroll, Josephine Hutchinson, Philip Ober, Martin Landau, Adam Williams, Edward Platt, Robert Ellenstein, Les Tremayne, Philip Coolidge, Patrick McVey, Edward Binns, Ken Lynch, Nora Marlowe, Doreen Lang, Alexander Lockwood, John Beradino

Roger Thornhill (Grant) leaves his New York office hurriedly, dictating memos to his secretary, Maggie (Lang), who struggles to keep up as they walk on the crowded sidewalk. As they approach the Plaza Hotel, Roger tells Maggie to call his mother and tell her heís got tickets for the theater that night. Maggie heads back to the office and Roger enters the Plaza and walks to the Oak Room bar. The three men heís meeting on business are already there. As Roger greets them he realizes that Maggie will not be able to phone his mother at the place where sheís at. He will have to send her a telegram. A hotel bellhop enters the bar, paging Mr. George Kaplan. Roger walks up to the bellhop and tells him that he needs to send a telegram. Two men, Valerian (Williams) and Licht (Ellenstein), watch from across the room as the boy tells Roger where to go to send the telegram. Valerian and Licht accost Roger as he walks toward the service desk. ďA car is waiting outside,Ē they tell Roger. ďYou will walk between us, say nothing.Ē The men rush the startled Roger at gunpoint into a waiting Cadillac and drive off rapidly. They leave Manhattan and travel to an estate in the country, a massive house set back in a parkland. Roger is taken to a large library room and told to wait. He notices a label addressed to Mr. Lester Townsend on a cylindrical mailer lying on a desk. Heís soon joined by a man (Mason) that addresses him as Mr. Kaplan. Roger explains that his name is Thornhill, but is ignored. The man, presumably Mr. Townsend, is soon joined by his associate, Leonard (Landau). Roger is asked how much he knows about their arrangements and, chillingly, is told that providing information will afford him the opportunity of surviving the evening. Roger insists his name is Thornhill, not Kaplan, but is told they are onto him. His captor calmly reads from a sheet of paper Kaplanís recent travels, including his current stay in room 796 at the Plaza Hotel, and his reservations at hotels in Chicago and Rapid City. When Roger insists he does not know what they are talking about, he is forced to drink a bottle of bourbon. That night, Valerian and Licht jostle an extremely inebriated Roger behind the wheel of a Mercedes Benz convertible. Roger is barely able to steer the car as it careens on a winding highway that skirts cliffs by the sea. His erratic driving is noticed by the Police, who give chase. Roger is arrested and spends the night in jail at the Glen Cove Police Station. In the morning, Rogerís mother, Clara (Landis), and his lawyer, Victor Larrabee (Platt) show up for Rogerís court hearing and manage to get him out on bail. At Rogerís insistence, two detectives accompany him to the Townsend estate. The house is the same, but his captors are not there. Roger is addressed like an old friend by Mrs. Townsend (Hutchinson). She expresses concern about his drinking too much the night before. When asked where her husband is, Mrs. Townsend says heís at the United Nations; heís to address the General Assembly. Neither the detectives nor his mother believe Rogerís story. But Roger knows he did not dream up his abduction and is determined to confront Townsend. He returns to the Plaza, but although Kaplan is registered there, Roger canít find him. He then goes to the United Nations building and tracks down Townsend, but the Lester Townsend (Ober) he meets, a widower, is not the same man he met the day before. Unseen by others, Valerian throws a knife that kills Townsend, and Roger is taken for the killer. Pursued by the Police, Roger has to find out what is going on before heís arrested by the authorities, or eliminated by the killers that plague his life. He boards the 20th Century Limited, heading to Chicago, the next city on Kaplanís itinerary, and meets Eve Kendall (Saint), a beautiful woman who helps him elude the Police. But Eve is not necessarily as helpful as she appears to be. Roger is caught in a deadly intrigue involving American intelligence operatives and foreign agents led by Phillip Vandamm (Mason), who has mistaken him for Kaplan. Rogerís future is very much dependent on who Eve really is. Screenplay by Ernest Lehman.


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