New York advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is lunching with clients in the Plaza Hotel when a pageboy calls for George Kaplan; Thornhill’s wave at the waiter is mistaken for a reply by two henchmen waiting to kidnap Kaplan, and the adventure begins. Thornhill is dragged across America and seduced by Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) on a beautiful train ride (he is trying to get away), only to be betrayed. The pursuing villain, Phillip Vandamm (James Mason), is part of the cold war furniture, aided by a closet gay Leonard (Martin Landau), who has taken the secret agency bait – planted by The Professor (Leo G. Carroll) that Kaplan is a master spy, and is trying to get rid of him. But Eve Kendall is a double agent, and Thornhill is a naive innocent.

Hitchcock at his formidable best.

This masterpiece works because it's both suspenseful and extremely funny.

North By Northwest, which Alfred Hitchcock made in 1959, just after Vertigo and just before Psycho, was one of the master's most popular films. Similar to his British successes, it's an elaborate chase film with Cary Grant as a smooth Madison Avenue man mistaken for an American secret service agent by a gang of spies led by the urbane James Mason. Caught in the middle is mystery woman Eva Maria Saint, whose attitude towards sex is teasingly candid. This stunningly made masterpiece works because it's both suspenseful and extremely funny – Hitchcock at his formidable best.