North by Northwest

On far too many nights the Cable disappoints. But, tonight, the grand exception –
North by Northwest
with no commercial interruptions. This movie has been described as “a strong candidate for the most sheerly entertaining and enjoyable movie ever made by a Hollywood studio.” I could not agree more. I found myself thinking “great scene” “great line” “great shot” time after time. And, of course, the movie ends with the greatest jump cut ever. The legendary crop-duster-in-the-cornfield scene even works well despite the fact that Cary Grant is not blogging the scene by wireless. Total fun – I’m even thinking about getting the limited edition DVD.
The movie has become even more fun because it now has a personal, emotional resonance. My friend Jim McKelly has filmed and produced a documentary about Mount Rushmore. During the filming, he was allowed to go up on the heads (where Hitchcock was not permitted to go). One time when Jim and I were swapping fear of heights stories, he told me his story of climbing to the top, with a heavy awkward pack, up a hidden set of “stairs,” which consisted of little more than metal pegs driven into the rock and a rickety metal hand rail.
Now, I can’t watch the great Mt. Rushmore scenes in North by Northwest without thinking about Jim reaching a point where he decided that he felt better making the climb with his eyes closed rather than open. I have to believe that scrambling over the replica of the monument on a sound stage would have been much easier.