North By Northwest: Marketing, Release, Critical Status, Reception, Box-Office

In François Truffaut’s book-interview, Hitchcock/Truffaut (1967), Hitchcock said that MGM wanted North by Northwest to be cut by 15 minutes. Hitchcock had his agent check his contract, learned that he had absolute control over the final cut, and refused.

Sexual Innuendoes

One of Eva Marie Saint’s lines in the dining-car seduction scene was redubbed. She originally said “I never make love on empty stomach,” but it was changed in post-production to “I never discuss love on an empty stomach”, as the censors considered the original version too risqué.

Radio City Music Hall

The film opened on July 1, 1959 at the United Artists Theatre in Chicago grossing $46,000 in its first week and $35,000 the second week.

It had two-week run at Radio City Music Hall and the film had a successful gross of $404,056 for that period.

One trailer for North by Northwest features Hitchcock presenting himself as the owner of Alfred Hitchcock Travel Agency and telling the viewer he has made a motion picture to advertise these wonderful vacation stops.

North by Northwest was released on the Blu-ray Disc format on November 3, 2009 by Warner with a 1080p VC-1 encoding.

This release is a special 50th-anniversary edition, restored and remastered from original VistaVision elements. A DVD edition was also released.

During its two-week run at Radio City Music Hall, the film grossed $404,056, setting record in that theater’s non-holiday gross.

According to MGM records the film earned $5,740,000 in the U.S. and Canada and $4.1 million elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $837,000.

The film ranks at number 98 in Empire magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Films of All Time.

The Writers Guild of America ranked the screenplay No. 21 on its list of 101 Greatest Screenplays ever written.

It is ranked the 40th-greatest American film by the American Film Institute (AFI).

Time magazine called the film “smoothly troweled and thoroughly entertaining.”

A. H. Weiler of The N.Y. Times made it a “Critic’s Pick” and said it was the “year’s most scenic, intriguing and merriest chase”; Weiler complimented the two leads:

Cary Grant, a vet of Hitchcock movies, was never more at home than in this role of the advertising-man-on-the-lam. He handles the grimaces, the surprised look, the quick smile, … and all the derring-do with professional aplomb and grace,

In casting Eva Marie Saint, Hitchcock has plumbed some talents not shown by the actress heretofore. Although she is seemingly a hard, designing type, she also emerges both the sweet heroine and a glamorous charmer.

The film as an “anthology of typical Hitchcockian situations”, and was particularly taken by the scene and suspense in which Grant’s character avoids death when attacked by a crop-dusting plane in the cornfields, which he believed was representative of Hitchcock’s finest work.

Oscar Nominations:

North by Northwest was nominated for 3 Academy Awards:

Best Film Editing (George Tomasini)

Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Color (William A. Horning, Robert F. Boyle, Merrill Pye, Henry Grace, Frank R. McKelvy)

Best Original Screenplay (Ernest Lehman) — at the 32nd Academy Awards ceremony.

Two of the three awards went instead to Ben-Hur, and the other went to Pillow Talk.

The film also won a 1960 Edgar Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay, for Lehman.

Hitchcock received his second Silver Shell for Best Director at the San Sebastián Film Festival (he was also awarded the Silver Shell the year before, for Vertigo).

In 1995, North by Northwest was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the United States Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its “10 Top 10” — the best ten films in ten “classic” American film genres — after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. North by Northwest was acknowledged as the seventh-best film in the mystery genre.

It was also listed as No. 40 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies, No. 4 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Thrills, and No. 55 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition).