Cinema: The New Pictures, Aug. 17, 1959

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The bad guys force a fifth of bourbon down Cary and turn him loose in a sports car to destroy himself—but he merely gets arrested and comes back after them to clear his name. They frame him with a knife murder committed in a reception lounge of the U.N. and, when he flees the city, arrange for a purring hood-nymph (Eva Marie Saint) to pick him up on the 20th Century Limited. But Cary has made his way to her berth before the train makes Albany. The villains lure him out onto an Indiana cornfield, where a crop duster in a biplane strafes him. He comes through it all looking like an ad for Brooks Brothers. And by now the villains are beginning to catch on to what U.S. moviegoers could have told them all along: it will take a lot more than an army of Communist spies to do away with Cary Grant.

But even Cary eventually shows a touch of strain as the film's glibly rococo plot closes in on Mount Rushmore ("I don't like the way Teddy Roosevelt is looking at me") and he is up to his immaculate collar in spies and counter spies, including a tweedy troubleshooter from Washington (Leo G. Carroll), the only man alive who seems to understand what is going on. The final scenes leading to the inevitable chase fairly tingle with Hitchcock-signature direction (such as a closeup of an oncoming fist). The suspense is beautiful as the bad guys nearly wipe out all the good guys and almost get away with the microfilm. Then Hitchcock reaches North by Northwest's ultimate "further extreme": a fugitive Eva Marie Saint scrambling down Thomas Jefferson's forehead in high heels.

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