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96 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...Expedient Exaggeration..." - North By Northwest on BLU RAY And Which Issue To Buy?
*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE BLU RAY REISSUES ***

As you watch the credits of Hitch's 1959 masterpiece "North By Northwest" roll up on the screen in all their resplendent VistaVision Technicolor glory - the shiny, cold and aloof glass panelling of a New York skyscraper acts as their backdrop.

It's a brilliant touch - because combined with Bernard...
Published on 17 Nov 2009 by Mark Barry

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not entirely entranced with the quality of this Blu-ray
[This review is for the Blu-ray + Ultraviolet version released by Warner 2013]

I won't bother with commenting on the merits of the film itself - as already attested by other reviewers, it is an excellent Hitchcock film for the period, originally shot on 70mm emulsion, and with a memorable musical score.

Also, we are dealing with a film produced in...
Published 10 months ago by Frank D


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96 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...Expedient Exaggeration..." - North By Northwest on BLU RAY And Which Issue To Buy?, 17 Nov 2009
By 
Mark Barry "Mark Barry" - See all my reviews
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*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE BLU RAY REISSUES ***

As you watch the credits of Hitch's 1959 masterpiece "North By Northwest" roll up on the screen in all their resplendent VistaVision Technicolor glory - the shiny, cold and aloof glass panelling of a New York skyscraper acts as their backdrop.

It's a brilliant touch - because combined with Bernard Herrmann's staccato score - it ratchets up the tension - and also subliminally suggests to the viewer that some poor John Doe is about to get rightly and royally screwed by big business and big Government - or both. And of course - mistaken for a UN diplomat called George Caplin - our hapless hero George Thornhill (played by Cary Grant) - does just that. Then when the opening credits end and Cary exits the lift with his secretary (Doreen Lang) all suited-n-booted and looking dapper enough to lick - another element kicks in - the extraordinary picture quality...

State-of-the art frame-by-frame Lowry Digital restoration has taken place here and the result is that the print is just BEAUTIFUL. I raved in a UK Listmania list some 3 years ago about how good the DVD looked - well this BLU RAY is way better - and at times just jaw-dropping to look at. Icing on the cake is that this 50th Anniversary BLU RAY reissue (Nov 2009) also adds on some superlative new features which are just as good as the film itself.

Here's the full list:
1. Commentary by Ernest Lehman (Original Script-Writer)
2. New 2009 Documentary "The Master's Touch: Hitchcock's Signature Style"
(over 50 minutes - featuring comments from directors Martin Scorsese, Curtis Hanson, Frances Lawrence, Guillermo del Toro and many more)
3. Previously seen but superlative feature-length profile "Cary Grant: A Class Apart" (over 1 and a half hours)
4. New 2009 feature called "North By Northwest: One For The Ages" examining the movies innovations and influences
5. Feature called "The Making Of North By Northwest" from 2000 hosted by Eva Marie Saint
6. Music Only Audio Track
7. Stills Gallery
8. Theatrical Trailers & TV Spots
9. Internet link to Warner Brothers

A whole bunch of things combine to make NBN work - a great story by Ernest Lehman, superb night and day locations, immaculate period clothes, the bulbous gas-guzzling cars, the art-deco buildings, the interiors of wealthy homes and the deeply luxurious dining cars of long-distance 1950's trains. And to top all of that, you get genuine old-school Hollywood star power in the form of James Mason, Martin Landau, Leo Carroll and the luminous love interest Eva Marie Saint. And of course the effortlessly suave and charming Cary Grant - arguably the best leading man Tinseltown ever produced. Throw in the tension, wit and camera angles of Hitchcock at the helm - and you're on a winner.

But your eyes keep coming back to how this BLU RAY shines. There are so many little scenes that now look sumptuous - Alfred missing the bus just at the end of the opening credits in his famous cameo scene - the garish colours of Fifties New York taxis, the marble of the hotel lobby Cary is meeting clients in. Then there's the Townsend home and gardens as the villains motor up the gravel driveway to the front door, the three dapper suits of the boys as they parry in the library room inside (Mason, Landau and Grant) and the clarity of the night scene where they put a drunk Cary in a stolen car and try to drive him off a cliff. Further on there's the colour of the fields in the legendary crop-duster scene, hanging off the Mount Rushmore monument by your fingernails - even Eva Saint Marie's beautiful red dress in the hotel room as she stands by the door while Cary showers in the bathroom... I could go on. If I was to nitpick - some scenes quite deliberately have Grant and Saint with an almost halo-like shine around them (soft focus to make them look better) and can at times make the print look just a teeny bit soft. But other than that - this is exemplary stuff and a jewel in Warners Brothers considerable filmic Crown.

Up there with "The Italian Job", "Zulu", "Goldfinger", "Saturday Night, Sunday Morning", "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner", "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang", "The African Queen", "To Catch A Thief" and "Back To The Future" in terms of top quality restoration (see my reviews for each) - "North By Northwest" is a triumph on BLU RAY. And the superb additional extras only make you feel that Warners are to be praised for a job well done.

As to which release to buy on BLU RAY - (as of April 2014) there are a number of releases for UK fans:

1. The Standard UK release of 2009 (50th Anniversary Edition cover) is in a simple clipcase with no booklet (Amazon Reference B002CYIR5W)
2. The UK 2013 Steelbook Reissue Version uses the old Poster artwork on the front and has no booklet either (Amazon UK reference B00A6UH9PS)
3. The American DIGIBOOK release of 2009 (50th Anniversary Edition cover) on Warner Brothers however has a Hardback Sleeve and a beautiful 46-page booklet attached inside. It's also Region Free so will play on all machines. If you've the few quid - opt for this - it often retails for around a ten spot and is gorgeous to look at and own (Amazon UK reference B0017HMF6W).

PS: For anyone interested (as I said above) - the American NBN is part of the following list of American DIGIBOOK BLU RAY titles on Warner Brothers. Most are REGION FREE and each has a beautiful booklet - which few if any of the UK versions have:

All The President's Men (1976)
Amadeus (1984)
Batman (1989)
The Big Parade (1925)
Blade Runner (1982)
Bonnie And Clyde (1967)1975)
Cabaret (1972)
Camelot (1967)
Casablanca (1942)
Chariots Of Fire (1981)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Clash Of The Titans (1981)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
The Color Purple (1985)
Deliverance (1972)
Dirty Harry (1971)
Doctor Zhizago (1965)
Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
East Of Eden (1953)
Elvis On Tour (1972)
Empire Of The Sun (1987)
The Exorcist (1973)
Falling Down (1993)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Gettysburg (1993)
Giant (1956)
Goodfellows (1990)
Gods And Generals (2003)
The Green Mile (1999)
Guys And Dolls (1955)
Hamlet [Kenneth Branagh Version] (1996)
Hans Christian Andersen (1952)
How The West Was Won (1962
Jaws (1975)
The Jazz Singer (1927)
JFK (1991)
The Killing Fields (1984)
King Kong (1933 Original)
Malcolm X (1992)
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
The Matrix (1999)
Meet me In St. Louis (1944)
Midnight Express (1978)
Mutiny On The Bounty (1935)
Natural Born Killers (1994)
North By Nothwest (1959)
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
Papillon (1973) - SEE REVIEW
Poltergeist (1982)
Rebel Without A Cause (1955)
The Right Stuff (1983)
Rocky (1976)
Se7en (1995)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Silverado (1985)
The Sorcerer (1977)
A Star Is Born (1954 Original)
A Star Is Born (1976 Remake)
A Streetcare Named Desire (1951)
300 (2007)
The Tuskegee Airmen (1995)
Unforgiven (1992)
What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (1962)
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic, 3 Nov 2002
By 
Wicker-king (North London, England) - See all my reviews
There's not much that needs to be said about this film other than it is just an absolutely flawless piece of film-making.
The tension coils all the way through and the pace of the film never lets up but the true greatness of the film lies in the stellar performances given by Hitchcocks' actors with a Howard Hawks-like script. James Mason gives a great performance as the professional villain and steers well clear of the Hooded Claw-like criminal who twiddles his moustache and instead gives a subtle lesson in how to be ruthless.
At the foundation of the movie is the truly magnetic performances given by Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint. The chemistry between the two is unlike any performances from any other movie. They give off so much heat that its a wonder they managed to film them and not have the celluloid melt in the camera. Cary Grant in particular plays the role of the man mistaken for a spy with great conviction and just draws you in like a moth to a candle and you just can't imagine anyone else being able to pull this role off with such credibility.
There are so many now legendary scenes throughout including the infamous crop duster scene and the final showdown on Mount Rushmore but for me the one in the auction house is an absolute treat and when you see it you'll know why, as Cary Grant does the kind of things only he could do.
It disturbs me how some people won't watch a movie unless its less than five years old because they are depriving themselves of the kind of entertainment that only films like this can give. No matter how many Bruce Willis or Arnold schwarzenegger action movies get produced they will never touch this movie, its got thrills, spills, chemistry, great one liners and some of the finest action sequences ever concocted. Buy it, watch it and tell your friends about it. Its even in colour.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding. Simply outstanding., 20 Mar 2002
By 
Tim R. Haveron Jones "TimHJ" (Marlow, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Anyone who thinks that the DVD format is only any good for new releases with eye-popping effects should buy this - an excellent DVD treatment of one of the most entertaining movies of all time.
It may be over forty years old, but it certainly doesn't look it - from the gorgeous opening titles through to the climax of the movie, this is a sumptuous transfer.
The extras - including a whimsical Ernest Lehman commentary - are above average among classic Hollywood movies.
All in all, I would challenge anyone to find a better value DVD anywhere. A must-have for anyone with the remotest interest in movies.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitchcock at his very best, 1 April 2005
I have to admit, this is probably my very favourite film - bar none. The story line is tight, the action fast and well paced, Cary Grant is well, Cary Grant, and James Mason and his sidekick Martin Landau make splendid "baddies". Apparently the title role was a choice between Cary Grant and another Hithcock favourite, James Stewart, but Hitch rightly picked Cary Grant for this light hearted, faster paced action role.
This film does not attract the same critical acclaim as some of Hitchcocks other work - like Vertigo for instance - perhaps because it is a straightforward action/thriller. Not for a minute does the pace let up as Cary Grant, mistaken for a secret agent, is pursued across the USA, working his way from one famous location to another by different transport. One scene stands out and is beloved of film commentators - the "crop duster" scene, which starts with a crane shot, looking over a dustbowl, into which a Greyhound drives, and leaves Cary Grant alone to meet the mysterious Lester Townsend.
A documentary narrated by Eva Marie Saint (another Hitchcock blonde) provides insight into the making of the film.
My only criticism of the disc would be that to my untrained eye on my standard TV, the picture quality doesn't seem quite as sharp as I'd expected, and the colours have a slightly unreal hue about them, which was presumably due to the type of film stock used back then in 1959.
A great, great picture - one that every film fan should see at least once.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crystal clear version of a Hitchcock classic, 23 Feb 2013
By 
LORD BEAU (London, England.) - See all my reviews
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"Mr Kaplin? Come with me, please." This Hitchcock masterpiece of over-direction and over-acting features Cary Grant stumbling from one famous moment to the next. It is a collection of set scenes and lush locations plus some cardboard sets and back-projection. It is in reality the film which set the scene for Bond films with its saucy dialogue and beautiful women. This blu-ray version is sparkling in quality and does full justice to this screen giant. Watch out for James Mason cast as the precursor to Bond villains, purring his way through some sardonic lines. Which scene do you remember? The biplane? The dinner on the train? The auction room? In the lift with his mother and the baddies? Careering down the hill drunk in the car? Climbing the rock-face at the end? Fantastic!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Languages & Subtitles, 9 Mar 2010
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Blu-ray all zone

Ratio of the feature film:
1.78:1

Languages of the feature film:
Dolby True HD 5.1: English
Dolby 1.0: French, German, Italian, Castilian Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese
Dolby 2.0: Isolated Score Track by Bernard Hermann

Subtitles for all the videos:
English, Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, Castilian Spanish, Latin Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese

Verdict:
An outstanding picture and sound for this master-piece which was perfectly well restored.
A true pleasure to watch this film again in such fantastic conditions.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Classic., 12 April 2013
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Hitchcock"s films were made for their time and hugely successful they were too.Only the very great directors can claim that their works can still generate tension , thrills and quality decades later(were they still alive). Hitch is in that select band.
Music,screenplay,production,acting and all crafts brought together by the man still combine today to give such excellent enterainment.
Certain words or phrases used date the film i.e. "making love" and "gay" (which are used in a different context today), but thats nit-picking: this film stands up to the test of time remarkably well.
The DVD includes plenty of extras for enthusiasts such as audio commentary,music tracks and behind-the-scenes documentary with comments by the actors etc. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars NXNW Bluray Steelbook Spectacular!, 4 Feb 2013
I really do like a steelbook and these commemorative releases from Warners are a delight. On review here we have, arguably, one of the greatest movies of all time from one of the greatest directors of all time, Alfred Hitchcock.

North by Northwest stars Carey Grant as Roger Thornhill who gets caught up in a duplicitous game of cat and mouse when he is mistakenly identified as one George Kaplan, a secret agent. Pursued across country on a train, fired upon by a deadly crop duster in a classic scene and finally an epic endgame atop Mount Rushmore Grant is ably backed up by a stellar cast including Eve Marie Saint and a deliciously wicked James Mason. With a score by Bernard Herrmann this sits easily in the top tier of the Masters films and is one to watch again and again.

The picture quality here is just stunning! With a beautifully remastered picture North by Northwest has never looked as vibrant to this reviewers eyes. Everything just looks so detailed, sharp and solid with the proper level of film grain still present its just a joy to behold. Its honestly like seeing the film for the first time!

The extras are almost as good as the film itself with a lovely commentary from the screenwriter Ernest Lehman, which Ive now listened to twice haha, a wonderful and insightful documentary on Carey Grant which is almost worth the price of admission alone, a featurette called The Masters Touch about the filmmaking style of Hitchcock, a making of North by Northwest feature and a few other bits and bobs.

Really a MUST OWN movie so if you dont have it get it. And if you can get this steelbook edition all the better because its a really lovely addition to anyones collection.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classic breathtaking blu ray, 21 Dec 2009
By 
L. bate (birminghanm) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
the film is a classic but the restoration to blu ray is stunning
i have watched the film many times but was stunned by the quality
to the point you can actually read the time on eva marie saint's
watch in the classic seduction scene on the train this is what
blu ray was invented for breathtaking
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth The Upgrade, 20 Nov 2009
By 
E. Smith (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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I won't try to compete with the big excellent, detailed review here, but if you're wondering if you should splash out on buying the Blu-ray whilst owning the DVD, I would say - definitely. If you don't already own the DVD, then don't hesitate with the Blu-ray.

I love seeing older films in colour and in the best possible format, and this one must be very close to the top of the tree in terms of picture quality. Everything looks vibrant and you almost feel part of 1950s America.

Just buy it, lie back and enjoy. You won't regret it.
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North by Northwest (Deluxe Series) [DVD]
North by Northwest (Deluxe Series) [DVD] by Alfred Hitchcock (DVD - 2002)
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