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‘North by Northwest’ is Basically a James Bond Movie as Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

“My name is Thornhill. Roger Thornhill! It’s never been anything else!”
North By Northwest Alfred HItchcock James Bond Cary Grant
By  · Published on October 26th, 2021

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay on how to view Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest as a James Bond movie.

Look, a little thought experiment about cinematic lineage never hurt anybody. And when you’re wheeling and dealing with heavy hitters like James Bond and Alfred Hitchcock, surely that’s worth a perked-up ear or two?

The theory, at its most basic, goes a little something like this: North By Northwest is a James Bond film as directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Only, that’s a little misleading. You can practically hear the “um actually” gremlins… Hitchcock’s 1959 thriller pre-dates 007’s first cinematic outing by a whole three years. So how could he be making a James Bond movie, hmm?

Well, look: it’s not so much that North By Northwest is a James Bond film. In fact, the influence actually goes the other way around. The James Bond films, especially the early ones trying to find their cinematic footing, owe a lot to North By Northwest. Indeed, Hitchcock’s thriller is a kind of unintended proof of concept for what a big-screen Bond would eventually become.

North By Northwest sees a charming ad executive (Cary Grant, who wound up being the first choice to play James Bond for real in Dr. No) being chased across the United States after being mistaken for a spy. It bounces from set-piece to set-piece, travelogue-esque, indulging in every mode of transportation under the sun.

As the video essay below notes, this is less a matter of sticky intellectual plagiarism than a case of Hitchcock and Bond author Ian Fleming being complimentary storytellers. Ultimately, the comparison is an interesting exercise in noting the traces a film can leave behind, consciously or otherwise.

Watch “James Bond Directed by Alfred Hitchcock”:

Who made this?

This video on North by Northwest‘s accidental family resemblance to the James Bond franchise is by Andrew Saladino, who runs the Texas-based Royal Ocean Film Society. You can browse their back catalog of videos on their Vimeo account here. If Vimeo isn’t your speed, you can give them a follow on YouTube here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).