North By Northwest parents guide

North By Northwest Parent Guide

This film is heralded as one of director Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest masterpieces.

Overall B

A case of mistaken identity forces Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) to run for his life while trying to clear his name. This classic Hitchcock tale from 1959 is usually heading for suspense, while taking the occasional detour for some mild verbal sexual innuendo.

Release date September 26, 1959

Violence C+
Sexual Content C+
Profanity B+
Substance Use C

Why is North By Northwest rated Not Rated? The MPAA rated North By Northwest Not Rated

Run Time: 136 minutes

Parent Movie Review

In North by Northwest, the hectic schedule of Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) is about to move in an entirely new and more frantic direction when he is accidentally mistaken for a Mr. George Kaplin. The mix-up occurs at a hotel bar when the self-important advertising executive has the misfortune of trying to order a telegram from the same bellboy who has been sent to deliver a message to Kaplin. The unheard conversation between the two is all the evidence a couple of carefully watching thugs need to identify the mysterious stranger their boss is seeking.

Abducting Roger at gunpoint, the hit men bring the confused prisoner to the Townsend Estate where he is to be interrogated by their employer. Unfortunately, it is Roger who has the most questions: Why have they kidnapped him? Who is the real George Kaplin? When will they let him go?

Interpreting his identity denial as unwillingness to cooperate, the villains plot to end Roger’s life in a drunken driving accident. While he manages to foil their attempt, the now intoxicated gentleman is unable to convince the police his disorderly state is the result of murderous intentions. Coming to the sobering conclusion that no one will help him salvage his reputation, the humiliated man decides to track down the only clues he has.

But trying to find Kaplin and Townsend simply puts the businessman back in the middle of a messy affair, of which he understands very little. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time eventually leads to accusations of murder, fleeing the law, and hiding in the shadow of a sultry blonde.

Heralded as one of director Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest films, the story builds momentum from its myriad of characters that aren’t the people they claim to be. However their unmasking reveals some nagging plot holes that are never fully filled. Incredulity aside, parents’ biggest concerns will be the constant peril leading to death by stabbing, shooting, and falling (although the violence is very sanitized), and the casual sexual conversation and relationship Roger has with the seducing Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint).

North By Northwest is best remembered for its dramatic crop dusting sequence (where Cary Grant’s character takes shelter in a corn field to avoid being polished off by a bi-plane) and a daring scene where the main characters dangle from Mount Rushmore’s stone faces (hence the movie’s working title: The Man in Lincoln’s Nose). The “master of suspense” uses these elements to persuade the audience of lurking danger in every direction.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint, James Mason . Running time: 136 minutes. Theatrical release September 26, 1959. Updated

North By Northwest
Rating & Content Info

Why is North By Northwest rated Not Rated? North By Northwest is rated Not Rated by the MPAA

Overall: B

A case of mistaken identity forces Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant) to run for his life while trying to clear his name. This classic Hitchcock tale is usually heading for suspense, while taking the occasional detour for some mild verbal sexual innuendo.

Violence: C+

Men with concealed weapons kidnap a character. Murderous threats and plans are made. Man is held down and forced to drink a large amount of liquor. Once intoxicated, the man is placed behind the wheel of a moving vehicle; several near accidents and a crash occur. Later a crash ends in an explosion. Fleeing character stows away on a train and steals a vehicle. Various characters die from stabbings, shootings, and falling from a great height (no graphic details are shown.) A plane swoops down and nearly hits a character, then sprays crop dusting chemicals on him. Several fistfights occur. Characters’ lives are in peril during a chase scene.

Sexual Content: C+

An unmarried and very liberal woman and a divorced womanizing man engage in a provocative conversation laden with sexual innuendo and open invitations. A few other references to sex, marriage and one-night-stands are made. Couple kisses passionately, and a sexual relationship is implied.  A man is shown in his underwear, another with only a towel wrapped around his waist.

Language: B+

At Least: 3 mild profanities and some name-calling.

Alcohol / Drug Use: C

Characters drink alcohol frequently, including at meals, social gatherings, and private meetings. One character is forced to drink a large amount of alcohol, which makes him intoxicated. Stressed character says he “could use a drink.” Main female character smokes a cigarette.

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North By Northwest Parents' Guide

Did you know Alfred Hitchcock makes a cameo appearance in every one of his films? (You’ll have to be quick off the mark to spy him in this one.)

The script in the movie works very much though the eyes of Roger O. Thornhill, until a pivotal scene that occurs in an FBI office. How does making the audience privy to information the main character doesn’t have change the flow of the film? Do you think this perspective shift enhances or detracts from the story? Are movies usually told in the first person?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of North By Northwest movie is September 13, 2015. Here are some details…

North by Northwest releases to home video (blu-ray) on September 13, 2015.

Related home video titles:

Alfred Hitchcock directed The 39 Steps (which also features a fugitive seeking the help of female passenger he meets on a train) and Rear Window (another film told in the first person). Eva Marie Saint can be seen in On The Waterfront.