North By Northwest - Some Trivia, The Script & A Guided Tour By Hitchcock Himself!

By Arun Fulara. Posted on June 23, 2015

If you are regular follower of our site then you know by now that we are big fans of the master of suspense. Who isn't, really? So when we found this really interesting piece of trivia on how the famous crop-dusting scene originated, we had to share it with you guys. Do check out the amazing Cinephilia & Beyond, a site every cinephile must bookmark.

Although i know that you know the scene i am referring to, just to refresh your memories, here is the scene below.

In an interview with the journal Creative Screenwriting, Ernest Lehman (the screenwriter of North By Northwest) had this to say about how the scene originated.

"One day, Hitch said to me, ‘I’ve always wanted to do a scene in the middle of nowhere—where there’s absolutely nothing. You’re out in the open, and there’s nothing all around you. The camera can turn around 360 degrees, and there’s nothing there but this one man standing all alone — because the villains, who are out to kill him, have lured him out to this lonely spot.’

Then Hitch continued, ‘Suddenly, a tornado comes along and…’ ‘But Hitch,’ I interrupted, ‘how do the villains create a tornado?’ and he had no idea. So I wondered, ‘What if a plane comes out of the sky?’ And he liked it immediately, and he said, ‘Yes, it’s a crop duster. We can plant some crops nearby.’ So we planted a fake cornfield in Bakersfield and did the scene that way.

And, like you said, it became a very famous sequence. As a matter of fact, that’s how I knew that Cary Grant had died. Every channel on TV was showing that shot of Cary running away from the plane. It’s strange, isn’t it, that such a distinguished career should be remembered mostly for that one shot?"

And that was the origin of what has since become of the most iconic scenes in Cinema. There is so much to learn from the script (download here) and the film that it's a veritable film school.

To end on a lighter note, here's Hitchcock himself, giving a guided tour of the film and its premise. He sure knew how to sell his films.


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