North by Northwest Summary

North by Northwest Summary

North by Northwest”, one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most popular films, is an epic story of government intrigue and mistaken identity. The story begins with Roger Thornhill, a successful advertising agent, dictating a letter to his secretary as they walk through a busy terminal. Roger proceeds to a nearby hotel where he has a business meeting. Once there he signals a pageboy, and is mistaken for a man named George Kaplan, whom the boy is calling for. Roger is immediately abducted by two men who believe him to be Kaplan. Roger is taken to a remote mansion where he is questioned by a soft-spoken man named Townsend . Despite Roger’s denial, Vandamm is convinced that he is Kaplan and has his henchmen forcibly intoxicate him. Roger is driven to the edge of a cliff where he manages to escape, taking control of the vehicle and eventually being taken in by the police.       

After his successful escape, Roger embarks on a mission to discover the truth about George Kaplan, the man he has been mistaken for. He arrives at Kaplan’s hotel, but finds his room deserted. Two of Vandamm’s men corner him in the hotel, but he manages to escape again, making his way to the United Nations, where Townsend works. Once there, he learns that the man who tried to kill him is an imposter, and the real Townsend is an honest man. When Roger shows him a picture of the man fake Townsend, one of the men who tried to kill him, (Roger), throws a knife in Townsend’s back. Roger pulls the knife from his back, and instantly finds himself framed for murder.

Roger journeys to Chicago where he knows Kaplan is staying, and aboard the train meets Eve Kendall, a beautiful industrial designer who befriends him and agrees to keep his secret. Roger and Eve soon fall in love with each other, but we soon learn that Eve actually works for the fake Townsend. Meanwhile, during a scene at a reclusive board meeting in Chicago, we are introduced to the character of the Professor, an elderly man who is the head of a committee not unlike the modern day CIA. In the course of the meeting, we learn that George Kaplan does not really exist, he is merely the invention of the Professor, intended to keep the fake Townsend off-guard.       

Having received a false message from “Kaplan” through Eve, Roger journeys to a deserted farm town where he is nearly killed by an assassin in a crop duster. Returning to the city, he confronts Eve, whom he now knows is not to be trusted. Roger follows Eve to an auction, where he learns of Eve’s involvement of the false Townsend, whose name is really Vandamm. When Vandamm assures Roger that he will not leave the auction house alive, Roger creates a disruption so that the police will take him away. After being arrested, Roger is taken to the Professor, who convinces him to continue the deception that he is George Kaplan, revealing that Eve is actually a government agent.       

Roger and the Professor follow Vandamm to North Dakota where Eve pretends to shoot Roger to reassure Vandamm of her loyalty. After he is quietly taken to the hospital, Roger learns that Eve is leaving with Vandamm for Europe. After the Professor forbids him to become involved, Roger escapes from the hospital and makes his way to Vandamm’s house near the top of Mount Rushmore. He overhears one of Vandamm’s henchmen inform him of Eve’s true identity, and learns that Vandamm plans to kill Eve as soon as they board the plane. Roger manages to warn Eve in time, and the two flee with a statue belonging to Vandamm, which Roger has learned is full of microfilm. Pursued by Vandamm and his men, Roger and Eve attempt to climb down Mount Rushmore. Just as Vandamm’s men are about to kill them, the Professor arrives with the police. Vandamm is arrested, and Roger and Eve leave on a train together.  

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