NORTH BY NORTHWEST
1959, Warner Bros., 136 min, USA, Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

Cary Grant gives one of his greatest performances as womanizing executive Roger Thornhill, whose cozy life of afternoon cocktails is turned upside down when he’s mistaken for an elusive government operative by suave villain James Mason and his murderous crony, Martin Landau. Eva Marie Saint co-stars as Mason’s elegant mistress, with the wonderful Jesse Royce Landis as Grant’s fur-clad society mom ("You gentlemen aren’t really trying to murder my son, are you?"). Includes some of the most superb set pieces ever filmed - from a seemingly innocuous cornfield to the monolithic Mount Rushmore. Brilliantly scripted by Ernest Lehman (THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS) and photographed by veteran Hitchcock collaborator Robert Burks (STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, REAR WINDOW).


SUSPICION
1941, Warner Bros., 99 min, USA, Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock’s technique takes a huge leap forward with this extremely unsettling piece of "escapist" entertainment. Young wife Joan Fontaine suspects that husband Cary Grant is trying to kill her, and the question of whether she’s prescient or paranoid dominates the film. Throughout the movie Hitchcock toys with our assumptions, a conceit that works thanks to Grant’s astonishing performance (one of the best of his career). Without resorting to gimmicks or dishonesty, Grant convincingly plays the husband in a manner that makes both his guilt and his innocence equally valid possibilities, and Hitchcock adds to the overall sense of menace with subtle visual devices (he rarely shows Grant actually walking into a shot, for example - he always seems to magically appear like a ghost). The studio-imposed finale has divided Hitchcock fans on SUSPICION’s merits, but Grant’s consummate professionalism allows Hitch to pull off the last-minute reversal.


TO CATCH A THIEF
1955, Paramount, 106 min, USA, Dir: Alfred Hitchcock

Retired cat burglar Cary Grant and ravishing American party girl Grace Kelly fall in love against a backdrop of fireworks, the French Riviera and a string of unsolved jewel robberies - all the while wearing some of Edith Head’s most stunning costumes. Alfred Hitchcock’s tongue-in-cheek soufflé, complete with surprisingly daring sexual innuendos for the time, is perfect escapist fare. With Charles Vanel (WAGES OF FEAR), Brigitte Auber.


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