North by Northwest

  • Review Date: November 1, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1959
  • Running Time: 131 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Witty Hitchcock thriller piles on suspense and innuendo.
  • Review Date: November 1, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Classic
  • Release Year: 1959
  • Running Time: 131 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The transformation of the main character sends the message that people can change for the better and that sometimes there's more to someone's character than first appears.

Positive role models

Thornhill is a twice-divorced ad exec who spouts his philosophy at the beginning of the movie as "In the world of advertising there's no such thing as a lie, there's only expedient exaggeration." When he's set up we see a big shift in his character -- he risks his own life for the truth and then for love. The CIA is shown as unscrupulous, willing to let Thornhill die to cover their tracks. Eve is played as mysterious and cunning and joked about as promiscuous -- but she's a damsel in distress ready to be saved by Thornhill in the end.

Violence

Roger Thornhill is kidnapped at gunpoint, then force-fed a bottle of bourbon (not shown) and put behind the wheel of the car, which he almost crashes numerous times on a windy road. A character gets knifed in the back. A crop duster fires shots and chases Thornhill, later exploding when it hits a truck. A death is faked by shooting and more shots are fired at the main characters as they dangle from a great height.

Sex

Some kissing with clothes on and the implication that Thornhill and Eve slept together in a train bed. Lots of forward sexual banter along the lines of "what can a man do with his clothes off for 20 minutes?" after Thornhill sends his suit to be pressed.

Language

"Treacherous little tramp" is as strong as the language gets.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Plenty of hard liquor drunk and mentioned. Some smoking typical of the era, including a matchbook with Thornhill's initials used to seductively light Eve's cigarette. Thornhill is force-fed bourbon then drives drunk to evade the bad guys, ending in a "funny-drunk" scene at the police station.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this Hitchcock classic includes suspenseful scenes such as a forced drunken car chase on windy roads and a crop duster chase with shooting and an explosion. Typical of the era, there's drinking of hard liquor and smoking, with a seductive lighting-up featured in one scene. More seductive elements include forward sexual banter and some kissing -- the clothes stay on but there's a mention that the main characters slept together in their train car. It's also worth noting that the main character undergoes a big transformation, from fast-talking and unscrupulous ad exec to a man who risks his own life to find out the truth that will exonerate him.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Cary Grant stars as Roger Thornhill, an advertising executive who is mistaken for a spy named George Kaplan. When his life is turned upside down, Thornhill decides the only way to get his life back is to track down the real Kaplan himself.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Cary Grant is superb as Thornhill. The character demands large tonal shifts, from mama's boy to suave sophisticate, from terrified man on the run to indignant pawn of the government, and Grant pulls it all off convincingly. Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) is a perfect foil for Thornhill's man under pressure. She's cool and mysterious, leaving Thornhill unsure of whether to trust her for much of their time together.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST is consistently light and comic. Some sort of silly comment or joke relieves even the tensest scene. Sure to entertain viewers with even the most diverse of tastes, the film is a true cinematic pleasure with an impressive pedigree.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the lasting appeal of Hitchcock movies. What makes this film a classic? What are some techniques that he uses that you've seen used in other movies?

  • Talk about who Roger Thornhill is at the beginning and the end of this movie. Has the experience made him a better person? What is the underlying message of the movie?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 17, 1959
DVD release date:September 7, 2004
Cast:Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason
Director:Alfred Hitchcock
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Classic
Run time:131 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of North by Northwest was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 13 year old Written byTsion April 10, 2009
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

An engaging action flick...

NORTH BY NORTHWEST is a fun movie, and great, suspenseful viewing for family movie night (for those who are old enough). There are several intense scenes, and in two places men are shot (nongraphically). One man is stabbed and another man is framed for it. There is a bit of innuendo ("you could always sleep in by booth with me, where it's safe" or "what should I do with you in the morning") and a couple are seen kissing passionately.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Adult Written bymoorehead December 20, 2010
AGE
17
QUALITY
 

Geat film--not for young children, though.

Wonderful film. Great acting by Cary Grant. The scenes at Mt. Rushmore are thrilling, beautiful and suspenseful.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written bycrazyguykevin89 April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

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