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July 5, 2023- by Steven E. Greer
I watched the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock film, “North by Northwest”, starring Cary Grant. It was a popular film at the time. I observed some interesting things about other films by watching this one.
The first James Bond film came out in 1962 starring Sean Connery. We all know about them. Bond had witty one-liners that got the women into the sack. He was a well-dressed spy in grey suits by day and athletic burglar at night. He somehow consumed hard liquor while staying in shape and being competent at his job.
Well, that entire Bond persona is a total rip-off of the Cary Grant character in “North by Northwest”. Grant was essentially a spy in that film, using clever dialogue to put pretty blondes into a trance. He drank hard liquor long before Bond’s martinis. Grant took trains with sleeping cars and saw a wide variety of interesting scenery, ala Bond films.
In addition to Bond films being inspired by “North by Northwest”, the “Mad Men” series copied to look. The Jon Hamm and January Jones are clones of Grant and Eva Marie Saint (Cary Grant played a Madison Avenue advertising executive).
The real-life unhealthy lifestyles of Americans, promoted by advertising, is seen in these Hollywood characters. The movies made it appear as if one can down whiskey and vodka during the day and stay sober. Smoking cigarettes was what the cool men did.
I have recently watched several documentaries about the Cold War era when these films came out. “North by Northwest” has a scene where they discuss the spy agencies as being feckless. The Bond films were then hijacked by the CIA to give spies a good name.
Quentin Tarantino said that he was not a fan of Hitchcock films. I have to agree. “North by Northwest” and “To Catch a Thief”, both Hitchcock films with Cary Grant, had serious failures in the end. He did not seem to know how to end a film. You will be shocked at how badly “North” ends.
Having said that, at the time, these films were probably cutting edge and more entertaining. Cary Grant was a big star and deserves credit for inspiring the Bond films, among others.