Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.
Wednesday, 2 June 2010
The Perfect Film ?
If I had to choose one movie right now that is absolutely perfect I would probably say NORTH BY NORTHWEST - Hitch's 1959 classic was on again yesterday afternoon, I tuned in half-way but had to sit there mesmerised as it played out again, despite having the dvd. Its the most perfect example of story-telling [scripted by Ernest Lehman) and editing with not a second wasted in that last 15 minutes or so with that futuristic house set, the chase across Mount Rushmore and its all wrapped up in 1 minute. Back in the cinema on its release you would be sitting there enjoying the chase and a minute later reaching for your coat.
Its also the most perfectly modern film despite being over 50 years old as it just has not dated at all. Of course its also the prototype for all the chase films and mcguffins that followed. Grant and Mason are at their urbane peaks and Eva Marie Saint is a revelation as that ultimate Hitchcock blonde Eve Kendall (until Tippi Hedren came along) - I love how she danges from Mount Rushmore wearing those white gloves! I like how its all played out as America in the late 50s (it must have been shot in late '58) continues around them at railway stations, on trains etc. Lots of delicious Hitch touches too, like those two versions of "Stop" by the woman in the hotel room as Grant enters, and of course Jessie Royce Landis a delight as ever as Grant's mother here, though they were of course about the same age.
Its sheer art and entertainment and as relevant as anything Antonioni, Fellini or Bergman were doing at the time. Saint relates in the dvd documentary how Hitch took her out to buy her wardrobe and groomed her to be exactly as he required - and then there's that house at the climax: its just perfect... one also has to mention Hermann's score and the silky playing of Martin Landau's jealous associate of Mason. It and ANATOMY OF A MURDER have to be 1959's best American films up there with SOME LIKE IT HOT and BEN HUR, though there's strong competition in those late films from the likes of Mankiewicz, Zinnemann, Stevens, Kramer, Hawks, Rossen, Sirk et al.