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Turner Classic Movies Film Festival Honors North By Northwest and Eva Marie Saint

Photo credit: Hugh E Dillon

Earlier this month the Turner Classic Movies’ “Road toHollywood” tour came to Philly (Prince Theater) and brought along legendary actress Eva Marie Saint, the actress best known for her sexy spy role, playing opposite Cary Grant in Alfred Hitchcock's suspense classic - North By Northwest. The 10-city tour is part of a campaign to promote the vintage film network’s annual TCM Classic Film Festival (April 12-15).

I've seen North By Northwest close to a dozen times starting around the age of 12.  It's one of my favorite Hitchcock flicks, so I was thrilled to get an opportunity to not only hear more about the making of the film from one of its stars, but also see it on the big screen!
For anyone who's never seen the film, here's my quick synopsis:  Cary Grant plays Roger Thornhill, a twice divorced Mad Men (Ad Exec) with a more marital than maternal relationship with his mother (Jessie Royce Landis).
While meeting with clients at the Plaza Hotel, his identity gets mistaken for a CIA agent, when accidentally answering the page for a Roger Kaplan.  Next thing you know he's forced into a vehicle, questioned by the king pin of some crime syndicate (James Mason); bourbon is forced down his throat and he's got to maneuver around those crazy California coastline roads so prevalent in movies of the 50's and 60's.

If you've ever seen the pilot episode of the TV show Remington Steele, you may recall before Pierce Brosnan steps on the scene, Laura (Stephanie Zimbalist) has to create the illusion of the great detective Remington Steele, by making hotel reservations under his name, stocking the room with men clothes and toiletry items, asking the valet to deliver dry cleaning etc..  This was all deliberately taken from the movie North by Northwest. In the film, there is no actual Roger Kaplan, it's just a name used for a CIA decoy.

My favorite part of the film is of course everyone's favorite, the last scene taking place on the face of Mount Rushmore. But a real highlight for me is the unabashed way in which Eve Kendal (Eva Marie Saint) seduces Roger Thornhill on the train.  He's in the midst of running from killers, police, & CIA, yet her come hither looks and bold advances turns his head from danger to desire.

Eva Marie Saint is now 87 years-old and still incredibly lovely, feisty, funny and quick. This Q & A is filmed from afar, but it's interesting to hear her spar with TCM's interviewer Ben Mankiewicz, discuss what it was like to work with the likes of Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock, and her acting debut on the film On the Waterfront.

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