Grant Mitchell

Alright, I have an admission … I used to think Alfred Hitchcock, while revolutionary for film making at the time with his styles of direction, was, by today’s standards, overrated.

The film that turned my opinion of Hitchcock back to thinking his work is still excellent in current standards was when I watched “North by Northwest” this past weekend.

It wasn’t my first time seeing the Carey Grant led 1959 classic, but it was my first time viewing the film as a grown person.

I must say, at the beginning of the film, I was hesitant to jump on board because of my recent experiences watching Hitchcock films, but as the plot unfolded, I was sucked in like a space rock into a black hole.

“North by Northwest” falls to no pitfalls or tropes of early-mid 20th century films. The acting is precise and believable, the dialogue is smart and tightly wound and the lead is a dynamic actor of the ages.

Carey Grant, in what I believe is his best role, unwittingly is swept up into a top-secret government intelligence operation and must think on his feet to evade capture and stay alive.

Where other actors of the era were wooden and stilted such as Henry Fonda and Charlton Heston, Carey Grant was superb in everything he did on screen.

No other film role in Carey Grant’s filmography challenges him quite as much as this one.

In “North by Northwest,” we see Carey Grant’s advertising executive character go through the woes of being mistaken for an international spy and accused murderer.

We see a character go all the way from their normal everyday life in the big city to the plains of South Dakota surrounded by cornfields and being chased by a crop-dusting plane. Yes you read that right.

And where other Hitchcock films would sacrifice their plot and pacing to get the story to where it needs to be by a certain point, “North by Northwest” takes its time in making sure everything is properly buffered and makes sense.

All of that proper and efficient allocation of story development not only lends itself in making “North by Northwest” an enjoyable film to watch, but also one that has an enthralling and can’t miss nature to it.

I often found myself wondering what would happen next while I was watching the film, which is a testament to the mystery caper elements of the movie that’s express goal is to keep audience members on the edge of their seats.

What I love about “North by Northwest” is that it takes no shortcuts in telling its story. It takes every scene and every moment shared between characters to further explain the situation and bring you closer to the secrets the characters have.

Some films from a director’s catalogue do not survive the sands of time and are left feeling like great outlines with no real meat or long-lasting core to fill in all of the empty spaces. With more than a few of Hitchcock’s films, that unfortunately is the case.

But when it comes to “North by Northwest,” the praise heaped upon this film is not from a place of respecting a director’s legacy and impact within the time they operated, this film is just that good that it deserves your attention and your praise.

Grant T. Mitchell is a senior at UT this year majoring in public relations. He can be reached at gmitch16@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

UT Sponsored Content