The King’s Head, 17 Hogarth Place, Earl’s Court, London SW5


“Friendly corner establishment, off the busy Earls Court Road, decorated in a modern style. Mainly floored in wood, with tiling around the bar area, the place is furnished with comfortable seating: high stools and tables, dining sets and some settees with low tables. A real fire is often lit in winter and the air conditioning switched on on those hotter summer days.

Circa 17th century, this pub is the oldest surviving licensed premises in the area. Rebuilt in 1937, the building is stated by the local authority to contribute to the village atmosphere and to make a significant contribution to the character and appearance of the conservation area. It was bought by Fuller’s from Faucet Inns in late April 2015

Of note are the unusual “postage-stamp” pub swing-signs, based on coinage designs of George V by Bertram Mackennel. Unlike the coins and stamps, the signs show His Majesty facing in both directions! The 1972 film, “The Adventures of Barry McKenzie” used the pub and the neighbouring “Kangaroo Valley” as locations.

“The Adventures of Barry McKenzie is a 1972 Australian comedy film directed by Bruce Beresford and starring Barry Crocker, telling the story of an Australian ‘yobbo’ on his travels to the United Kingdom. Barry McKenzie was originally a character created by Barry Humphries for a cartoon strip in Private Eye. It was the first Australian film to surpass one million dollars in Australian box office receipts. A sequel, Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, was produced in 1974.
Barry Humphries appears in several roles, including: a hippie, Barry McKenzie’s psychiatrist Doctor de Lamphrey, and as Aunt Edna Everage (later Dame Edna Everage). Humphries would later achieve fame with the character of Dame Edna in the UK and US.
The film was produced by Phillip Adams. Barry ‘Bazza’ McKenzie (Barry Crocker) travels to England with his aunt Edna Everage (Barry Humphries) to advance his cultural education. Bazza is a young Aussie fond of beer, Bondi and beautiful ‘sheilas’. He settles in Earls Court, where his old friend Curly (Paul Bertram) has a flat. He gets drunk, is ripped off, insulted by pretentious Englishmen and exploited by record producers, religious charlatans and a BBC television producer (Peter Cook). He reluctantly leaves England under the orders of his aunt, after exposing himself on television. His final words on the plane home are, “I was just starting to like the Poms!”” (Wikipedia)

The kitchen remains open for dinner until late evening and Wednesdays are “Craft Beer and Wings Nights”. Three Fuller’s cask ales are joined by a guest, often from another local brewery.”

Andrew Whitehead posted on his blog on 22/12/2011:

“Patrick Hamilton’s marvellous, miserable, boozed-up novel Hangover Square (1941) is sub-titled: ‘a story of darkest Earl’s Court’. That’s a glancing reference to the ‘darkest London’ writing about a subterranean, sweated East End. Hamilton seems to be suggesting that there’s as much despair behind the veneer of the much more imposing streets of west London.

Hamilton knew the area, and in this novel has nothing good to say of it. He writes of ‘the hard, frozen plains of Earl’s Court’. His central character, George Bone, comes to regard the locality as ‘the bleak scenery of his disgrace and disorder’ – a ‘hateful neighbourhood’

It’s hateful above all because of Netta Longdon, the hard-hearted, grasping, amoral woman about whom Bone is fixated. She lives in furnished rooms just north of Cromwell Road. Bone is forever walking up and down Earl’s Court Road to call on her, to spy on her, to drink with her.

There are still five pubs within a short stroll of Earl’s Court Station. All, I’d guess, were there in Bone’s time. And for much of the novel, Bone is drinking in one or other.

He first comes across Netta and her crowd in the big bar at the Rockingham, just across from the station. That’s the Courtfield, a bland, anonymous pub with little to commend it beyond its location. The gang drink more frequently at the Black Hart, never precisely located in the novel, but not far from the station, and by implication closer to Cromwell Road. The Earl’s Court Tavern best fits the bill.

Bone has a drink with old buddy Johnnie Littlejohn ‘down a narrow road … which led indirectly towards the Cromwell Road’. That feels like the King’s Head on Hogarth Place – from what I saw, the most comfortable and tradition minded of Earl’s Court’s bars.

Hangover Square, though, is even more about a moment than a place – the uneasy months leading up to the Second World War. Netta and her crowd, including her Mosleyite lover, cheer on Chamberlain with his umbrella, as he travels round Europe trying to appease Hitler.
As for the square of the novel’s title – that’s not a place, it’s a condition. ‘”What’s the matter – our old friend Hangover Square?”‘

From Wikipedia:

“The title of the book is a wordplay on the name Hanover Square, an area of London that was once home to many late-night drinking establishments.”

From Hangover Square (1941), by Patrick Hamilton:

“They went past the Post Office and A.B.C. and then turned down a narrow road on their right which led indirectly towards the Cromwell Road.
Half-way down this they came to a small pub into which George led him. They got beer at the counter, and then sat at a table covered with green linoleum near the door.
The long, warm, bright days still persisted, and the door of the pub was flung and fastened back.

It was cool, dark, and restful inside and pleasant with the peaceful beginnings of the little house’s evening trade – two men talking quietly, another reading a newspaper, the flutter of a canary in a cage, the barmaid vanishing into the other bars and returning, the occasional oily jab of the beer-engine and the soft spurt of beer. It was good to sit back in this cave of refreshment, and stare at the blinding brilliance of the day outside, the pavement, the dusty feet of temperate but jaded pedestrians.

‘This is one of my regular places,’ said George.
‘Oh yes?…’ said Johnnie. ‘Very nice.’
And he looked around as though politely to appreciate the nature and savour the quality of his friend’s background. But, of course, he could not see what George could see – the wet winter nights when the door was closed; the smoke, the noise, the wet people: the agony of Netta under the electric light: Mickey drunk and Peter arguing: mornings-after on dark November days: the dart-playing and boredom: the lunch-time drunks, the lunch-time snacks, the lunch-room upstairs: the whole poisoned nightmarish circle of the idle tippler’s existence. He saw merely a haven of refreshment on a summer’s day…

…Netta had quite another portrait of herself at the back of her mind. Her true heart was not in the second-hand sports car, the road house, the snack bar and the darts board in the Earl’s Court public-house; it was, rather, somewhere haunting the society columns, the illustrated pages of The Sketch, The Tatler or Vogue. She would not have admitted this, even to herself, but this was where her inner aesthetic fancy lay…”

Clifford Odets (July 18, 1906 – August 14, 1963)

From: Cary Grant – a Brilliant Disguise (2020), by Scott Eyman:

“There had been a P.S. on the marriage congratulation from Odets, a thank-you for a loan that Grant had made to him. Lee and Paula Strasberg would always be Clifford Odets’s best friends, but his best Los Angeles friends were Grant and Danny Kaye.

“The Five Pennies is a semi-biographical 1959 film starring Danny Kaye as jazz cornet player and bandleader Loring “Red” Nichols. Other cast members include Barbara Bel Geddes, Louis Armstrong, Harry Guardino, Bob Crosby, Bobby Troup, Susan Gordon, and Tuesday Weld. The film was directed by Melville Shavelson.
The real Red Nichols recorded all of Kaye’s cornet playing for the film soundtrack. The other musicians in Red’s band were not asked to provide their musical contributions, and the sound of his band was supplied by session players.” (Wikipedia)

Supporting those pillars were the remnants of the Hollywood outpost of the Group Theatre -John Garfield, Luther Adler- -and then Charlie Chaplin, Hanns Eisler, and Jascha Heifetz.

Odets was relentless in searching out those for whom he felt an affinity. Jean Renoir had opened his front door to find Odets standing there, wearing a raincoat, even though it wasn’t raining. “I’ve got you at last,” he said. “I swore that I’d not only see you but that we’d become friends.” Renoir was brooding over his career troubles in Hollywood when Odets invited him to a party so he could meet Chaplin. “It was like inviting a devout Christian to meet God in person,” Renoir remembered, but he had a commitment he couldn’t get out of and didn’t attend. But Odets kept up the matchmaking, and Renoir and his wife, Dido, came to know and adore Chaplin.

“Jean Renoir (15 September 1894 – 12 February 1979) was a French film director, screenwriter, actor, producer and author. As a film director and actor, he made more than forty films from the silent era to the end of the 1960s. His films La Grande Illusion (1937) and The Rules of the Game (1939) are often cited by critics as among the greatest films ever made. He was ranked by the BFI’s Sight & Sound poll of critics in 2002 as the fourth greatest director of all time. Among numerous honours accrued during his lifetime, he received a Lifetime Achievement Academy Award in 1975 for his contribution to the motion picture industry. Renoir was the son of the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir and the uncle of the cinematographer Claude Renoir. He was one of the first filmmakers to be known as an auteur.” (Wikipedia)

By the time Grant and Betsy (Drake) married, Odets had moved back to New York, and they were communicating via letters and phone calls.
The relationship had subtly altered from one of coworkers and equals to one where Odets was frequently thanking Grant for his generosity, apologizing for his general depression, and for Grant’s patience in listening to Odets’s complaints. “There is so little kindness in the world that I can not thank you too much for yours,” Odets wrote. “It warms & cheers me & makes you increasingly precious to me.”

A few months after Grant’s wedding, Odets wired him that Kenneth McKenna, the story editor for MGM, had a copy of Odets’s new play, The Country Girl. He asked Grant to read it with an eye to a movie production. Grant must have expressed some polite interest, because Odets wrote in May 1950 with the news that Sid Rogell at RKO had decided against it as a property for Grant after a conference with Howard Hughes and Grant.
A month later Odets had to ask for another loan. As always, Grant sent a check. Odets wrote to thank him, mentioning that he had cast Paul Kelly and Uta Hagen in the Broadway production of The Country Girl. The play opened in November 1950 and ran for seven months – the last commercial hit Odets would have. The movie version of 1954 starred Bing Crosby, William Holden, and an utterly miscast Grace Kelly, who nevertheless won the Oscar as Best Actress because she was Grace Kelly.

The success of the play and resulting movie sale meant that Odets was again able to start repaying Grant’s generosity.

In 1952, Odets testified as a friendly witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee. He named names- he and Elia Kazan agreed to name each other, and Odets also offered up J. Edward Bromberg – dead for some months- and a few others, all of whom had been named by others.
“What he needed from me was what I needed from him,” Kazan would write in his memoirs. “Permission to name the other.” When Kazan got back to his house after meeting with Odets about their testimony, he asked his wife, Molly, what she thought. “I don’t worry about you; you’ll survive anything. But I do worry about Clifford.”

Odets’s testimony was oddly bifurcated; after disposing of the unpleasant business of selling out his friends, Odets refused to grovel any further and stoutly defended his liberal political outlook. His testimony was a compressed version of his entire life- he wanted to have it both ways: write great plays in New York and make lots of money in Hollywood, pollinate beautiful actresses while proclaiming the higher morality of the artist; name names and be a good liberal.

Kazan went on to make some of his best films after he testified, but, as he would write,

‘What was possible for me hurt Clifford mortally. He was never the same after he testified. He gave away his identity when he did that; he was no longer the hero-rebel, the fearless prophet of a new world. It choked off the voice he’d had. The ringing tone, the burst of passion, were no longer there. What in the end gave me strength drained him of his. I realize now that my action in the matter had influenced him strongly. I wish it had not. I believe he should have remained defiant, maintained his treasured identity, and survived as his best self. He was to die before he died.’

This sounds like eloquent overstatement, until you remember that even in Sweet Smell of Success, Odets’s best late work, the dialogue is almost entirely keyed to contempt (J. J. Hunsecker) and self-loathing (Sidney Falco).

“Odets was the subject of a psycho-biography by psychoanalyst Margaret Brenman-Gibson: Clifford Odets – American Playwright – The Years from 1906–1940. It was one component of an umbrella project Brenman-Gibson undertook on the subject of creativity. The biography was intended to be a three-volume work, with the second and third volumes to cover the final 23 years of Odets’s life. Brenman-Gibson died in 2004, leaving the project unfinished.” (Wikipedia)

Walt Odets says his father never spoke of his testimony in later years. Odets and Kazan remained close for the rest of Odets’s life. In January 1955, Odets returned to Hollywood, and he and Grant resumed seeing each other on a regular basis…

…As far as Kazan was concerned, Odets was more than a man, more than a great playwright. He was a metaphor.

‘The tragedy of the American theater and of our lives is what could have been,’ Kazan said to a gathering of actors a few months after Odets died.

‘Forces dispersed instead of gathered. Talents unused or used at a fraction of their worth. Potential unrealized. We all know our problems. We are not kids, we are not students. We know we are here on short leases. ..
The man who could have been the Lear of this generation is playing a sheriff on a TV series. I don’t think he plays sheriffs very well. He could have been a great Lear. The man who could have been the greatest actor in the history of American theater is sulking on a grubby hilltop over Beverly Hills or on a beach on the island of Tahiti. What happened to them? They don’t know. Don’t look down on them. They are not weaklings. They were idealists too. Nor are they corrupt, confused, or sicker than most; they are your brothers.
We don’t do what we want to do. We do what we think we have to do. Or what’s worse, what other people want us to do. … When we go from flop to flop we are terrified. When we find ourselves in a hit, we are bored to death.’

Kazan was specifically referring to Lee J. Cobb…

…and Marlon Brando, but he could also have been thinking about actors who didn’t live in Tahiti. He was thinking of how dissatisfaction is so often wired into our being; that there is an intrinsically tragic element in creative lives that remain less than they might have been. He was talking of Clifford Odets, but he could have been talking about Cary Grant.

Irene Mayer Selznick wrote to Grant a few days after Odets died:

…I’ve long known that it was a momentous afternoon that Clifford brought me to the set of None But the Lonely Heart. I am in his debt for that and many other rewarding currents. That our real friendship began then, makes it sweeter.

That you added greatly to his life, you must know. I hope you know how much. That being so, he added to yours, and thus I send you sympathy on your loss.

Cary, my dear friend, you add greatly to the life of any friend of yours. I value you and love you.

Blessings–as always.


Nos.43 and 45, New Oxford Street; No.16 West Central Street, London WC1

From the Historic England entry:

“CAMDEN NEW OXFORD STREET (South East side) Nos.43 AND 45


Terrace of shops and offices. 1843-7. Under the direction of James Pennethorne as Architect and Surveyor for Metropolitan Improvements appointed following a House of Commons Select Committee in 1836.

Stuccoed brick with banded quoins and rustication, slate roofs. A group of commercial premises on a canted site treated as two distinct units. The premises survive well above C20 ground-floor shops, the upper floor having sash windows with small-paned glazing bars in moulded architrave surrounds, under heavy cornices and parapets, that to No.45 with balustrade. No.45 has arcaded first floor fenestration, which continues along return to West Central Street on ground floor also.

INTERIORS not inspected.

The group is the most prominent intact survival of Pennethorne’s most important Metropolitan Improvements Commission for the Commons Select Committee.”

The Mercer’s Maiden in Dryden Street, London WC2

From Wikipedia:

“The origin of the “Mercers’ Maiden”, the heraldic emblem of the Worshipful Company of Mercers, is not known. Unlike most of the City livery companies, the Mercers had no early grant of arms but the 1425 charter granted a common seal. A few impressions of the early seal survive showing a greatly simplified version of the present coat of arms. The fifteenth century Wardens’ Accounts reveal that, even then, the Company required the device of the Maid’s Head to be displayed on its property. In 1530 the Company stated to the College of Heralds that they had no arms but only a Maid’s Head for their common seal and in 1568 the Heralds registered the seal as the company’s arms.

In 1911 the College of Arms confirmed the arms and granted the company a crest and motto, ‘Honor Deo’ (Honour to God). The grant blazons the arms: Gules, issuant from a bank of clouds a figure of the Virgin couped at the shoulders proper vested in a crimson robe adorned with gold the neck encircled by a jeweled necklace crined or and wreathed about the temples with a chaplet of roses alternately argent and of the first and crowned with a celestial crown the whole within a bordure of clouds also proper.”

Grainhouse, Dryden Street

See below – Note 16: “Mercers maidens and historic metalwork restored.”

Tooting Broadway, Wandsworth


From the Hidden London website:

“This was part of the manor of Tooting Graveney and the manor house stood near here. Peter Drouet’s pauper children’s asylum faced the Broadway in the mid-19th century. Set in seven acres of grounds it was a sizeable and profitable operation for Drouet until disgraceful sanitary conditions contributed to an outbreak of cholera in 1849 in which 118 children died. Drouet was put on trial for felonious killing but found not guilty. He sold up soon afterwards and the tragic episode prompted major municipal improvements to the area’s drainage.

At the end of the 19th century there were still a few private houses interspersed among the shops on the Broadway. Trams began to serve Tooting Corner in 1903, frequently derailing on the sharp turn. A statue of Edward VII attired as commander-in-chief was erected on the corner in 1911. That year marked the completion the LCC’s Totterdown estate and the influx of new residents prompted a transformation in the scale of the shopping facilities. Tooting Broadway station opened in 1926.

The Granada cinema of 1931 has the most magnificent interior of its kind in London, a cathedral-like design modelled on the most lavish American picture palaces of the era. It was the first British cinema to be grade I listed.

The independent shops and stalls of Broadway market and the nearby streets reflect the neighbourhood’s wide ethnic diversity. Tamil, Konkani/Konkoui, Ibo/Igbo, Tagalog and Creole French are among the most common languages spoken at St Boniface primary school on Undine Street.

The nearby Salvador estate is named after a wealthy Tooting family who played a leading role in the establishment of the first Jewish settlement in America.”

“This strutting hydra of a lamp stands guard over (and acts as a ventilation pipe for) Tooting Broadway tube station.”*


Tommy Joyce reported for Tooting Nub News on 4th January 2022:

“A project initiated by Wandsworth Council will give a new lease of life to the gas lamps in Tooting Broadway.

The gas lamps have stood in Tooting Broadway since the early 19th century, during which time they have grown to be one of Tooting’s most prominent and historic landmarks.

Before the advent of electricity, gas lamps provided the earliest form of street lighting in London.

There are still around 1,500 functioning examples in London, with Birdcage Walk near Buckingham Palace entirely lit by gas lamps.

Virtually all have been awarded listed building status, including the gas lamps in Tooting Broadway which are Grade II listed.

Formed by a cluster of five ornate lamps, the cast iron supporting structure also serves as a four-way signpost guiding people towards Wimbledon, Croydon, Wandsworth and central London.

Tooting Broadway’s imposing statue of King Edward VII once stood next to the lamps in the middle of Mitcham Road until it was moved some years ago to the pavement directly outside the tube station entrance.”

“not only Johnnie, but Eddie Carstairs himself, was trying to help him out”

From: Hangover Square (1941), by Patrick Hamilton:

“He sat there, this enormous, ill, simple-minded man who had suffered so much mentally – he sat there, in the late lights of Brighton chasing through the darkness of the car, looking now at the driver’s steering, now at the street, weak, happy, and at peace, his blue unhappy hunted eyes staring out, harmless, bewildered, hopeful, grateful. All the years and sorrow seemed to slip away from those eyes, and there was the little boy again, the little boy who had been hurt, and was being given a treat.
He was unaware of his pathos, his simplicity, the fact that he had a charm – a charm which made him entirely acceptable to all who valued such things. He was only infinitely grateful to Johnnie, and to this once dreaded and hated man who had come out of a hotel to see him home, and to the friendly accepting men behind.
They were still making a great deal of noise behind, but Eddie Carstairs remained quiet. All at once, however, he broke the silence.
‘Well, George,’ he said, not looking at him, for he was taking a corner with care, ‘I suppose you’ve been having a lot of thick nights lately, haven’t you?’
He was so amazed and flattered to hear himself called ‘George’ in that off hand yet friendly way, that he hardly knew how to answer.
‘Yes, I have,’ he said. ‘I have really.’
‘One has to stop sometimes, doesn’t one?’ said Eddie, or it gets one down.’
‘Yes, one has,’ he said. ‘Though it’s not really late nights so much with me. I just seem to have got into a state…’
‘What sort of a state?’ said Eddie Carstairs after another pause, in his quiet voice..
‘Oh – just a state.’
‘Not a woman, I hope,’ said this remarkable man…And there was another pause …
‘Oh, well… perhaps … sort of ..’
‘Because that’s not worth it. You take my word for it,’ said Eddie Carstairs, and from behind, Johnnie’s voice suddenly said, ‘Yes, he’s right there, George. He’s certainly right there, you know.’
And he saw in a flash of perception and gratitude that Johnnie had somehow told Eddie Carstairs something of the truth, and that not only Johnnie, but Eddie Carstairs himself, was trying to help him out, trying to console him and make him feel better, trying to be kind. And he couldn’t bear it, because it made him want to cry.”

“I’m just lonesome. I guess I need a little mothering.”

Above: “The sculpture at Mount Rushmore is built on land that was illegally taken from the Sioux Nation in the 1870s. The Sioux continue to demand return of the land, and in 1980 the US Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians that the Black Hills were stolen and awarded $102 million in compensation. The Sioux have refused the money and demanded return of the land. This conflict continues, leading some critics of the monument to refer to it as a “Shrine of Hypocrisy”.” (Wikipedia)

From: Cary Grant – a Brilliant Disguise (2020), by Scott Eyman:

“IN 1958, Alfred Hitchcock once again dropped into Grant’s life with a script that carried with it the usual bountiful terms…

North by Northwest (the sixth top grossing picture of 1959) was a difficult proposition from the beginning, because Hitchcock was making his movie at MGM, and the corporate culture at MGM was in steadfast opposition to a director such as Hitchcock. Traditionally, MGM was a studio devoted to stars shepherded by powerful producers. Directors were more or less interchangeable…

The project went through a number of titles In a Northwesterly Direction, In a Northwest Direction, The CIA Story, Breathless, The Man in Lincoln’s Nose before finally settling on North by Northwest…

The picture was so expensive that Hitchcock had to jettison his planned credit sequence and have Saul Bass concoct the titles out of stock footage of New York City.

Hitchcock and Ernest Lehman worked smoothly together, allowing for numerous narrative dead ends they had to surmount. As with his hero Roger Thornhill, Lehman wrote the story without any particular idea of where the narrative was going, which turned out to be beneficial. “Since I never knew where I was going,” said Lehman, “I was constantly painting myself into corners, and then trying to figure out a way out of them. As a result, the picture has about ten acts instead of three, and if I’d tried to sit down at the beginning and conceive the whole plot, I could have never done it.

Everything was written in increments: moving it a little bit forward, then a little bit more, a page at a time. “Okay, you’ve got him out of Grand Central Station. Now he’s on the train, now what? Well, there’s no female character in it yet. I better put Eve on the train. But what should I do with her?” Always asking, “What do I do next?” So, in the end, the audience never knows what’s coming next, because I didn’t either…”

Grant was careful not to do any complaining around his costar. “If Cary had any problems, he never showed it,» said Eva Marie Saint…her experience of working with Grant was entirely positive. On the set, Grant invited everyone to help make a scene work, even a rookie like Martin Landau, who was making his first movie but who was treated as a full equal by the star. “You just always felt that he was with you every minute,” said Eva Marie Saint. “Not only for his close-ups, but for your close-ups too.”…

Hitchcock gave Eva Marie Saint only three specific directions and those came before the start of production: Lower your voice; don’t use your hands; look into Cary’s eyes at all times. “He wasn’t being facetious,” remembered Saint. “That really worked, certainly on the train…well, all the scenes, looking right at him.”…

The dialogue on the train sequence, as Ernest Lehman noted, isn’t really dialogue, it’s repartee, or if you prefer, foreplay…

…Grant’s suit had been made by Kilgour, French & Stanbury on Savile Row.

The Beverly Hills tailor Quintino made five or six copies for use in the movie. According to the clothing historian Matt Spaiser, the suit was made of light worsted Wool in a blue/gray fine glen plaid pattern. There were darts to shape the front, and the shoulders were padded. “The trousers are very similar to what Sean Connery wore in the Bond films,” wrote Spaiser, With a long rise, double forward pleats, turn-ups and side adjusters. Connery’s adjusters had buttons, but Grant’s were two strips of cloth tightened with a clasp.

…Little things became big things. Grant was eating a lot of salads to maintain his weight, and nobody in Bakersfield had ever heard of a salad, which increased his general disgruntlement…

…Once it was edited, Grant had a private showing and gave editor George Tomasini notes, the primary one being to shorten his scene in the police station.

“One day on the MGM backlot, Grant passed the hairstylist Sydney Guilaroff, who asked how things were going. An obviously gloomy Grant mumbled, “I don’t know.” Later that day he came over to Guilaroff, who was working on Eva Marie Saint’s hair. “I’m just lonesome,” he said.
“I guess I need a little mothering.””

He also noted his dislike of the scene where he’s driving drunk. He thought he looked “baggy.”

North by Northwest started shooting on August 27, 1958, and didn’t finish until a week before Christmas, with the costs adding up to $4.3 million- more than a million over budget. Besides the money, MGM was worried about the running time. The picture was a lengthy 2 hours and 16 minutes, and MGM tried to get Hitchcock to trim it -the scene in the woods between Grant and Saint after she feigns shooting him at Mount Rushmore became the focus of the disagreement. Looking at the scene dispassionately, MGM might have had a point, but Hitchcock had Final Cut…

Bernard Herrmann had just finished the score for the pilot episode of The Twilight Zone when Hitchcock hired him to compose the music for North by Northwest. Herrmann chose to use a driving Spanish dance rhythm known as the fandango for the main title.

“Hitchcock’s cameo in North by Northwest (1959) occurs about 2 minutes into the film.
During the opening title sequence, which shows New Yorkers rushing home from work, Hitchcock just misses catching his bus. The cameo was filmed near to 347 Madison Avenue, New York City.” (The Hitchcock Zone) “At the end of the opening title credits sequence in a bustling NYC, missing a city bus (green and yellow) that slams its door in his face, anticipating a similar scene later in the countryside near a cornfield when a bus door shuts on Roger O. Thornhill (Cary Grant).” (

It didn’t seem to make much sense for a movie that takes place entirely in America, but Herrmann had a genius for music embodying a movie’s psychological DNA. Herrmann’s inspiration became clear when he explained that his use of the fandango was inspired by Grant’s “Astaire-like agility,” which was never more apparent than in the crop-dusting sequence, where he sprints through the cornfield like an Olympic athlete…

Ernest Lehman’s script initially strips away much of what had been working for Grant for nearly thirty years. In Grant’s other pictures for Hitchcock, his character feigns innocence, even as he carries a full ration of moral or practical guilt. Roger Thornhill actually is innocent, but he’s also a glorified salaryman in a great suit, worried about inconsequential appointments and responsibilities. His initial befuddlement is sharpened by the desperate, forced improvisation of being pursued across the country because of a case of vastly mistaken identity. It is only then that the traditional Cary Grant character comes into focus, including his contempt for the woman he loves, who happens to be a double agent recruited to sleep with the enemy–a direct lift from Notorious.

…”[Hitchcock] once told me, If a director can get eighty five percent of a writer’s intentions onto the screen, the writer should consider himself very fortunate, » said Ernest Lehman. “Well, he got a hundred percent of North by Northwest up on the screen!”
North by Northwest would be the last time Grant worked with Hitchcock, and in retrospect he knew how lucky he had been.

…Beneath glad-handing public statements, each of them implicitly understood the other’s strong and weak points. They also understood their shared covert natures. In 1966, Hitchcock was speaking to a group of young English writers when he told them that likability was a quality that could not be faked in movies. The public, he said, had adored Grace Kelly because she was indeed likable. And for all of Hitchcock’s efforts, they had rejected Tippi Hedren because she was not. There was, he said, only one actor in the world so formidably skilled that he could fake a charm he did not in fact possess. Any guesses?
“Cary Grant?” offered one young man.
“Correct,» said Hitchcock.”