North by Northwest has always been a strange film for me to watch.
I’ve seen it multiple times, but with each viewing, I can’t shake this nagging feeling of hate I have for a particular character. Of course, this is your typical Hitchcock where there’s a double meaning to everything, but, you’d think that if your son was being falsely accused of something he didn’t do, you would have a little bit more urgency in your step, right?
The person in question I’m talking about Jessie Royce Landis‘ character, Clara Thornhill.
Oh, boy. Where do I begin?
As you may know, NBNW is a story about a man who’s been falsely accused of being a government agent. Roger Thornhill played by Cary Grant, is your average New York City white-collar type of guy. Working in the advertising business, Roger is well versed in the topic of double meanings and false identities.
The story progress and he’s eventually framed for murder. Understandably panicked about the situation, Roger reaches out to anyone the could help with fix the predicament he’s found himself in – including his ‘uncaring’ mother Clara.
Here’s where my problem lies.
It was rather irritating to see her look very nonchalant about this entire ordeal. Even when there was a CLEAR look of panic on her son’s face, she scoffed and brushed him off. I understand this is purely a work of fiction, but it truly annoyed me that a mother would downplay her son’s life or death situation.
Maybe she was hesitant to believe in something as ‘absurd’ as this, but I don’t think she should’ve excused Roger’s legitimate concerns. Thankfully, she came around, and my complaints may have very well been in vain, but this is something that always stuck with me whenever I watched this film.
Fortunately, Alfred Hitchcock was a master of his craft.
What might’ve looked like a character flaw, could’ve been an important piece of the Hitchcockian puzzle; I suppose I should put aside my grievances and enjoy the movie for what it is: a rather underrated masterpiece in a long list of movies in Hitchcock‘s brilliant filmography.