Friday, February 12, 2016

Hollywood Spies: North by Northwest

Often overlooked in spy culture are Alfred Hitchcock’s espionage classics. In the Hitchcock film Vertigo (1958), we highlighted the use of mind control, doubling and voyeurism on the part of a shadowy Bohemian Grove-esque elite intent on manipulating the middle class Scottie (Jimmy Stewart) based on a profiling of his psychological weaknesses. In North by Northwest (1959) similar themes emerge, yet the master of suspense seemed willing to reveal much more than merely psychoanalytical and Freudian elements, notably shooting the first film to mention the CIA.

Hitchcock was not merely a master of suspense,  but the father of the espionage film, adapting spy tales from both William Somerset Maugham (himself MI6, whose novel Ashenden would become Hitchcock’s Secret Agent in 1936) and Joseph Conrad (The Secret Agent novel would become Sabotage in 1936). He directed some of the most notable espionage films of all time, including 39 Steps,Notorious, Torn Curtain and The Man Who Knew Too Much. Yet his connections to British Intelligence and the Atlanticist establishment take us down an even deeper rabbit hole.  (more...)

 Esoteric Hollywood


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