After an hour of crying over having to pick just one, I finally settled on North By Northwest. Possibly not his artistic triumph, but it's one I can watch again and again. You see, when I was just started to discover the classics, I hesitated to explore Hitchcock's library, because his reputation as a "master of suspense" led me to think that I wouldn't be able to handle such intensity.
Of course, I soon learned a suspense film might put the viewer's heart in a vice for ninety minutes -- but a master of suspense speaks to the brain, not the heart. Hitchcock's films are great because they draw you in - you're trying to figure things out, and keep track of the plot, and you want to know how it turns out. That's suspense I can handle!
I still don't have the nerves of my shock-loving friends, though, so that means I have a fondness for the slightly "playful" suspense of North By Northwest, compared to Rear Window or Vertigo.
Next, the surprisingly challenging step of finding a NBNW poster! Not because they're rare, but because they're common. It seems like every graphic designer with a DVD collection has tried their hand at redesigning this poster...
|The details are obscured here, which|
conveys the panic and confusion of the movie.
| I love how the footprints here actually show|
Roger seeing the plane, and turning to run.
|It's hard to avoid playing up Hitchcock's legend,|
but this is a bit much, isn't it?
|In the 2-player mode, one person is the plane.|
|You don't have to use the arrows,|
but if you do... could they not point east?
|It's pretty, but why is the plane going|
in the opposite direction?
You may have noticed that all these designers hit upon the same problems:
1) The cropduster scene was pretty cool, but it was a single moment, and mostly unrelated to everything else in the movie. It certainly demonstrates that "Cary Grant gets chased", but it's not actually a defining moment of the film...
2) ...but on the other hand, the film doesn't have many other defining moments to work with, since it ricochets from place to place too quickly. Well, except for the finale, but why would you put that on a poster?
3) North By Northwest is a direction - how can you not include that in the image somewhere? It's just too bad the movie itself never explains the title.
Then again, not only does this official poster do the exact same thing, but it even includes the finale I mentioned!
I will, however, express my fondness for that tagline - and the cheek required to include Hitchcock as the fifth head of Mount Rushmore!
But sometimes it really is the best idea just to keep it vague, and play it safe with star appeal. And so, here's my favourite North By Northwest poster:
"This movie is made by Alfred Hitchcock, and stars Cary Grant, who is shot at by a lady, but also kisses a lady."
I'm sold. Let's get the popcorn started.