Staumann, Barbara. "Rewriting American Foundational Myths in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest." American Foundational Myths. Ed. Martin Heusser and Gudrun Grabher. Narr: Tubingin, 2002. 201-214.
Call#: Van Pelt Library BL304 .A44 2002
In this article Barbara Straumann describes what she considers to be an Oedipal journey: escaping from an overbearing mother and two ex-wives and fleeing into the countryside. For her argument, she considers the crop-dusting scene to be of incredible significance. While waiting for clandestine meeting with Kaplan in Northern Indiana, we see Thornhill as somewhat of a lone soldier thrown into the field of battle. This is certainly observed as a crop-duster with a gun barrels down upon him. She also mentions how he is recognizable as somewhat of a cowboy, trapped alone in a dusty field. Extrapolating the belief that he represents a soldier and a cowboy, two traditionally manly jobs, our hero can be understood as a masculine element, single-handedly fighting against the two groups who are fighting against each other. She sees Thornhill as a character that undergoes great personal growth due to the dangerous situations he is forced into.
Another argument that she alludes to but does not expand upon in depth is the patriotic undertones embodied by the film. Many elements of the film, from the cowboy imagery in a Midwest corn field, the lone journey into the unknown, to the climactic fight literally on the faces of the U.S. founding fathers convey a sense of independence from oppressing forces and the American way. Hitchcock brought in many different pro-American elements in order to emphasize the ‘Rough Rider' nature of the protagonist, from the Frank Lloyd Wright lookalike house to the daring fight scene on Teddy Roosevelt. The imagery Hitchcock employs serves to heighten the audience's concern for Thornhill, a man who is fighting against foreign spies by embodying the American spirit.
Flint, Peter B. "Alfred Hitchcock Dies; a Master of Suspense." New York Times 30 Apr. 1980. 7 Apr. 2008 .
This is the actual obituary published by the NY Times following Alfred Hitchcock's death in 1980. Although the article offers no more than a few brief comments about North by Northwest, it talks about many stylistic elements in the film which were hallmarks of Hitchcock's innovative approach. For example, one of the more prominent features of classic Hitchcock style is the emphasis on montage and dramatic imagery over dialogue in developing the story. This article mentions examples of this including North by Northwest's crop-dusting scene in which Cary Grant tries to evade a bullet-firing low-flying aircraft. It was clear that Hitchcock controlled a certain mastery of the camera. The scene, which begins with Grant is waiting for the elusive Kaplan along a long a dusty road in Northern Indiana, effectively demonstrates the suspense that can be achieved using wide shots and apparent isolation. The camera cuts frequently between shots of Grant looking down the expansive road in both directions and extended shots of the never-ending road. Hardly a word needs to be spoken in this scene for the audience to understand the character's frustration and fear.
Speaking of Hitchcock's style as a whole, the article acclaims his "virtuosity in creating a rhythm of anticipation with understated, sinister overtones, innovative pictorial nuance and montage... and revealing cross-cutting of objective shots with subjective views of a scene from an actor's perspective." This style is apparent throughout the film, but its power is best seen before and during the crop-dusting sequence and also in the fight on the faces of Mount Rushmore. Furthermore, Hitchcock oftens breaks from established convention in order to convey his message. For example, on the empty highway Hitchcock repeatedly breaks the 180-degree rule in order to display the surroundings and prove Thornhill's complete isolation from others. The works Hitchcock created are not only a great piece of cinematic history in their own right, but also in the lasting impact they have imparted on other filmmakers and their works. Hitchcock's legacy in film is a natural byproduct of his unique style over many great films during his lengthy career.