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Movie Review

Intelligently woven thrillers. Nail-biters that keep viewers on the edge of their seats. For many teens, those are the popcorn movies of choice. They want action, mystery and suspense. But in recent decades, Hollywood has handed over this high-octane genre to R-rated stories awash in graphic violence, nudity and obscenities. What's a parent to do? Turn back the clock!

In 1959, Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint and James Mason starred in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest, a taut tale of mistaken identity in which things—and people—are not always what they seem. The rollercoaster ride begins when armed hoodlums confuse Roger Thornhill, a debonair New York advertising executive, with George Kaplan, the man they're sent to kidnap. An increasingly tangled web of events finds Thornhill framed for murder, running from both his original pursuers and the police as he attempts to locate Kaplan and find out what's going on. In the process, he meets and falls for a fetching blonde named Eve Kendall. But whose side is she really on?

While it's impossible to recommend Hitchcock's greater body of work, this smart film includes only mildly problematic elements that can be easily discussed with mature teens. The characters frequently down bourbon and martinis. To escape his dire circumstances, Thornhill tells lies and even steals a truck. Upon meeting on a train, Roger and Eve engage in an extended, 1950s version of verbal foreplay, teasing each other with sexual suggestions that lead to the pair kissing in her room (nothing the fast-forward button can't handle).

Hitchcock once asserted, "Drama is life with the dull bits cut out." With North by Northwest, he proves it. Action. Suspense. Intrigue. Whether eluding authorities by rail, evading a low-flying biplane or clinging to the face of Mount Rushmore, there's never a dull moment for Cary Grant's unwitting hero. A rousing, mentally engaging and generally wholesome classic.

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