Black SplatNorth by Northwest (1959)

"Ever kill anyone? Bet you could tease a man to death without half stop trying."

North by Northwest - Cary Grant as Roger Thornhill with Eva Marie Saint as Eve Kendall

Description: Cary Grant as Roger O. Thornhill spares with the beautiful but deceptive Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) whom he suspects had something to do with an attempt on his life in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller North By Northwest (1959).

Roger Thornhill is a Madison Avenue executive who enjoys his life in the big city. One day, however, while minding his own business, he is mistaken for a man named George Kaplan and followed by a gang of spies who try to kill him, but he escapes.

"My name is Thornhill, Roger Thornhill. It's never been anything else...So obviously, your friends picked up the wrong package when they bundled me out here in the car...I told you I'm not Kaplan, whoever he is!"

Ironically, there is no George Kaplan. This bogus identify was invented by government agents to confuse and distract a bunch of spies. Unfortunately, Roger Thornhill was seen talking to a hotel bellboy paging George Kaplan and from that moment his life was turned upside down.

North by Northwest - Thornhill framed for murder

Later Thornhill goes to the General Assembly building at the United Nations. As he approaches a diplomat named Lester Townsend (the name used by the spy who kidnapped him), the man falls dead in Thornhill's arms from a knife in the back - a knife meant for Thornhill who is suspected of being Kaplan. Unwisely, Roger removes the blade and bystanders believe he killed the man and so Thornhill becomes the prime suspect in the murder. Soon a photograph of Roger holding the knife appears in The Evening Star with the headline: "DIPLOMAT SLAIN AT U.N., Assassin Eludes Police Efforts."

On the run and in search of the real Kaplan, Thornhill boards the 20th Century Limited train bound for Chicago. When police sweep the train looking for a suspected murderer, he is befriended by Eve Kendall, a beautiful blonde who helps him evade the authorities. A short time later, Eve gives Roger a message to meet George Kaplan at an isolated Greyhound bus stop at a Highway 41 crossroads by a Northwest Indiana cornfield.

North by Northwest - Movie Poster

While waiting for his contact, another man waiting at the Prairie bus stop says, "That's funny, that plane's dustin' crops where there ain't no crops." The bus arrives and takes the man away as the crop dusting plane dive bombs Thornhill in hopes of killing him. Luckily, the plane crashes into a gasoline tanker and explodes, allowing Roger to steal a pick-up truck and ride back to Chicago.

Thornhill now suspects that Eve is in league with the spies, namely, Phillip Vandamm (James Mason) who framed Roger for murder. Feeling betrayed, Roger tells her, "Ever kill anyone? Bet you could tease a man to death without even stop trying."

Still on the run from the spies, Roger is contacted by a government agent named The Professor (Leo G. Carroll) who knows that Thornhill is innocent and wants him to assist him with a plot to uncover a spy network and retrieve stolen microfilm containing government secrets.

Roger Thornhill: You're police, aren't you? Or is it FBI?
The Professor: FBI, CIA, ONI...we're all in the same alphabet soup.
Roger Thornhill: Now you listen to me, I'm an advertising man, not a red herring. I've got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don't intend to disappoint them all by getting myself "slightly" killed.

It turns out that Eve is a double agent working with The Professor and Roger agrees to help Eve get away from Vandamm, who plans to throw her from a plane when he realizes she is not to be trusted. Eve had used a gun with blanks to murder of Roger Thornhill at a cafeteria at the base of the Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. Thinking Thornhill (posing as Kaplan) was dead, Vandamm returned to his mountaintop retreat near Mt. Rushmore to get the microfilm and leave the country. Meanwhile, Thornhill comes to the rescue, but he and Eve are pursued by Vandamm's killers as they seek to escape down the face of Mt. Rushmore.

Phillip Vandamm: Has anyone ever told you that you overplay your various roles rather severely, Mr. Kaplan. First, you're the outraged Madison Avenue man who claims he's been mistaken for someone else. Then you play the fugitive from justice, supposedly trying to clear his name of a crime he knows he didn't commit. And now, you play the peevish lover, stung by jealousy and betrayal. It seems to me you fellows could stand a little less training from the FBI and a little more from the Actor's Studio.
Roger Thornhill: Apparently the only performance that will satisfy you is when I play dead.
Phillip Vandamm: Your very next role, and you'll be quite convincing, I assure you.
Roger Thornhill: I wonder what subtle form of manslaughter is next on the program. Am I to be dropped into a vat of molten steel and become part of a new skyscraper, or are you going to ask this female to kiss me again and poison me to death?

As they're forced to climb across the presidential faces on Mount Rushmore monument, Roger says, "If we ever get out of this alive, let's go back to New York on the train together, all right?" Eve asks, "Is that a proposition?" Roger replies, "It's a proposal, sweetie."

Curious Eve inquires, "What happened to the first two marriages?" Roger informs Eve that his wives divorced him. "Why?" she asks. Roger confesses, "Well, I think they said I led too dull a life."

As Vandamm's thugs try to kill Roger and Eve, a park ranger under the supervision of The Professor shots one of the killers (Martin Landau) who falls off the face of Mt. Rushmore to meet Valarian (Adam Williams) a second killer whom met his death earlier from a fall while battling with Thornhill.

With Vandamm arrested and the statue containing the secret-ladden microfilm retrieved, Roger and Eve marry and spend their honeymoon on a train.

North by Northwest - Movie Poster

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