|Cary Crant & Alfred Hitchcock at Mount Rushmore|
James Stewart was originally earmarked for Thornhill but delays to the completion of Vertigo (plus the cool reception that film received) edged him out in favour of Cary Grant. Grace Kelly and Elizabeth Taylor were considered for Eve Kendall before Hitchcock chose Eva Marie Saint and James Mason was cast as Vandamm when original choice (at which point the character was called Mendoza) Yul Brynner was unavailable. Hitchcock makes his signature cameo appearance at the start, having a bus door slam shut in his face.
The crop duster scene was filmed on Garces Highway, between Wasco and Delano at the San Joaquin Valley in California. A suitable location had been hard to find as Hitchcock wanted “a scene where our hero is standing all alone in a wide open space and there's nobody and nothing else in sight for 360 degrees around, as far as the eye can see.” The plane was flown by local pilot Bob Coe.
|Top - Matthew Yurichich's matte painting of the Vandamm House|
bottom - film still
North by Northwest premiered in Chicago on July 1st 1959, attended by Hitchcock, Eva Marie Saint and Leo G. Carroll. It became the sixth highest-grossing film of 1959 and was nominated for three Oscars - for art direction (Robert Boyle), film editing (George Tomasini), and screenplay (Ernest Lehman) - but didn’t win any, though Lehman received the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1960 for his screenplay.
In 1995, it became the fourth Hitchcock film to be selected for preservation by the United States National Film Preservation Board. The Writers Guild Of America ranked the screenplay No. 21 on its list of 101 Greatest Screenplays ever written while the American Film Institute ranks it as the 40th greatest American film (as well as 7th on its ‘Top Ten Mysteries’ list). Ian Fleming was also a fan - he sent a telegram outlining a plot for a novel, asking if Hitchcock would “be interested in directing this Bond film...?”
Produced on a budget of $3.1m, the film has so far grossed £44.4m.
Hitchcock's original trailer for the film
If you get a chance to see this at the cinema then take it, it's a superb experience!