In 1959, Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant (as a wrongly followed ad exec) brought to the screen one of the most intense, mystifying chase films ever to grace the big screen. Fifty years later, with a restored print that reportedly cost Warner Brothers one million dollars to work on, “North by Northwest” is available again for home viewing today on a new BluRay release.
On DVD Talk, Randy Miller III champions this new re-issue, “Originally released on DVD in 2000 (and again a few years later, with slightly different packaging), North By Northwest gets an upgrade for its 50th birthday—and though Warner Bros. is late by a few months, this two-disc package is a quality effort in every department. Not only has the already-great technical presentation been carefully polished, but the original DVD bonus features have been paired with a few thoughtful new extras. This 50th Anniversary Edition is also available as a Blu-Ray package, but those still limited to standard definition won’t have much to complain about.”
In the LA Times, Susan King, preparing for a screening of the new print at the AFI Festival, revisits the film’s most memorable moments. “Who can forget those images — Cary Grant on a deserted highway being chased by a crop dusting plane? Grant and Eva Marie Saint scampering over the president’s noses on Mt. Rushmore as they are pursued by a group of nefarious spies? Then there’s the pulsating score by Bernard Herrmann, one of the great screen composer’s most evocative works.”
Chris Vognar, of The Dallas Morning News situates “North by Northwest” in the greater Hitchcock oeuvre. “Sandwiched between the high art of 1958’s Vertigo and the delicious shock value of 1960’s Psycho, ‘NXNW’ can still come across as a sort of escapist bauble, a large-scale precursor to the modern action movies of today. But the set pieces really sing on Blu-ray, particularly the deep-blue skies and lock-step editing of the crop-dusting sequence. And Grant’s flirtations with a sneaky Eva Marie Saint rival the smoldering passion of his scenes with Ingrid Bergman in ‘Notorious.'”
Writing in the Macon Telegraph, Bruce Dancis looks back at what has come to be the film’s most memorable scene, “In this Blu-ray edition, the film has been restored and remastered from the original VistaVision production, and the colors just pop off the screen. This is even the case with the crop-duster scene, set at a barren stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere – the nowhere of the southern San Joaquin Valley near Bakersfield, Calif., subbing for the nowhere of rural Indiana. Thornhill’s impeccably tailored gray-patterned suit, silver-gray tie and white shirt, along with Grant’s tanned face and perfect hair, contrasts beautifully with the foreboding dry brown dirt of the fields surrounding the highway. Cinematically, Hitchcock shows viewers that this is a man who is decidedly out of his element. After successfully hiding from the police in the confined spaces of a train traveling from New York to Chicago, he finds himself a target in the open outdoors, with nowhere to hide.”