North by Northwest

North by Northwest is another film from the great director Alfred Hitchcock, and in this movie, he doesn’t disappoint. Long before seeing this, I used to think that this movie was a James Bond movie, and the opening title was visually pretty cool so one wouldn’t be blamed for making that mistake. This film is a lot like Vertigo in the sense that it’s about an innocent person dragged into a dramatic situation he had no part in. The story is about Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) and his kidnapping that created his sudden identity crisis leading to him being convicted of drunk driving, lying to a judge, and eventually even murder.  He evades authority across the country and meets Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) who isn’t who she seems to be at first. You never quite understand the reason for Roger’s kidnapping, but either way, you feel bad for him as he was just misunderstood for the entire first half of the movie. many of the sets looked very modern and you likely wouldn’t be surprised if the sets were used in a newer movie. This movie was more humorous than Hitchcock’s other movies but the jokes don’t ever seem out of place and they fit into the plot and characters well, as in, a certain joke would make sense with the certain character who said it. There are also a whole bunch of great shots such as the scene with the cop duster plane chasing Roger just as one example. The soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann, a Hitchcock favorite, was great, as expected from such a respected music producer in the film industry. This isn’t my favorite Hitchcock film, but it is definitely up there. This film is superb.

Ben-Hur (1959)

Ben-Hur is a movie based of the story of the book by Lew Wallace about an upper class jew, Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston), in Jerusalem and his journey from there to being a slave in the galleys and eventually to a very successful chariot racer. It’s a film about a person’s life over many years after some dramatic changes, similar to movies like Doctor Zhivago or Forrest Gump. I personally enjoy movies like this as they haven’t failed to disappoint for me. David Lean is especially keen with these movies and I was surprised to find out that he hadn’t directed this one. More about the movie, It’s one of the longest movies I have ever seen at 3 hours and 42 minutes long, but I wasn’t bored for a second. William Wyler does a spectacular job of making a very visual story that a deaf man could follow along with. Charlton Heston’s character of Judah Ben-Hur is performed in a way so that you feel for him and understand him and his motives. Stephen Boyd who plays Messala does a great job of being dislikeable. The movie was also easy to understand plot-wise, you don’t need to be a major nerd on the movie to know what’s happening. The cinematography was amazing, almost every shot, especially shots from the chariot racing scene, were memorable. There was a scene in which Ben-Hur is a slave being dragged across miles and miles of land to be sent to the galleys and they eventually get to a small village where there is a person who gives him some water even though the Roman guards told people not to give water to Ben-Hur specifically. The way that the scene is shot makes you feel like this person is going to be a major character, and the camera is about to show their face, but it just doesn’t. The viewer is desperate to know who it is but the film refuses to let them know, and the movie is arranged so well that everything else in it distracts you from the mystery of who this person is so it doesn’t bother you for the entire movie, potentially ruining the experience for yourself. This movie is a masterpiece.