North by Northwest:
The Chase Across Mount Rushmore
Alfred Hitchcock directed a string of masterpieces in the 1950s including Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, and Psycho. At the height of this remarkable run came North by Northwest, a unique marriage of Hitchcock's trademark suspense and humor. Ernest Lehman, well known in Hollywood for adaptations such as Sabrina and The King and I, wrote the screenplay, his only original one and now widely regarded as his best.
Hitchcock and Lehman began work on an original story inspired by Hitchcock's concept of a chase across the face of Mount Rushmore.
The film follows Roger Thornhill, played by Cary Grant, in a journey which travels "in a northwesterly direction" through New York, Michigan, South Dakota,and eventually to—in the original story idea—Alaska. The plot emerged through Hitchcock and Lehmann's usual process of batting around ideas and imagining their character into impossible situations, then figuring out ways to extract him.
The slideshow shows Lehman's photographs of Mount Rushmore that he made during his research trip. The photographs here were made from previously unstudied negatives found in the Lehman collection.
This is just one item from the Making Movies exhibition, which runs through August 1 at the Ransom Center. Follow us on our Cultural Compass blog or Twitter or become a fan on Facebook to see new items from the exhibition revealed each day for the next few weeks as part of "Script to Screen."
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The Ransom Center is highlighting items from different sections of its upcoming exhibition Making Movies, which is organized by filmmaking jobs (director, producer, cinematographer, and more) and by iconic film scenes with materials that show how those scenes were created.