Continuing my Hitchcock education.
Mad Man Roger Thornhill is having a smart martini after work when he is mistaken for a government agent and abducted, politely so, as was apparently done in the 1950’s, by two suited spies. He makes small talk with his abductors then is force-fed scotch and taken to a cliff on the premise that in his drunken state an ‘accident’ would occur. He escapes. However, later he is framed for murder, then the police chase him. He escapes with the help of a mysterious blonde, which, as it turns out, is not coincidence, nor good fortune.
What strikes me, post-watch, is how much North by Northwest reminds me of a prototypical Bond film. First you have Cary Grant with his calm demeanor and hair that is never out of place, not even after being chased by a crop duster mounted with machine guns. You have a recurring sense of danger popping up unexpectedly in the middle of a sedate setting. You have chases, lots of them. Villains surround the protagonist from all angles. And, of course, there is the girl and the getting of the girl.
A very different film for Hitchcock, making use of his mastery of suspense while adding a dramatic sense of motion and quite a bit of dark humour in the face of adversity.
I have to wonder, since N by NW was made in 1959, if Hitchcock took inspiration from Ian Flemming’s previously released 007 novels or if Flemming took subsequent inspiration from Hitchcock’s N by NW?
In either case, I think Grant would have made an excellent James Bond.