North By Northwest movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was North By Northwest Filmed?

1959

About North By Northwest

A film about mistaken identity, North By Northwest, was a movie directed by none other than the renowned Sir Alfred Johnathan Hitchcock. This film is often listed as one of the greatest films of all time and some have even claimed it to be “The first James Bond film” for its similarities to the earlier movies of the franchise. Picture a star-studded cast of several popular stars including Cary Grant, playing Roger Thornhill as well as Eva Marie Saint who portrayed Eve Kendall. Spoiler Alert: We will be discussing several scenes that occur throughout the movie in this guide!

Fun Fact: Alfred Hitchcock has a cameo appearance in this film, which was a signature occurrence in most of the films that he filmed. The movie follows an advertising executive, Roger Thornhill, who gets caught up in a case of mistaken identity. With dangerous people believing him to be someone else, he is forced to constantly hide while looking for answers to his dilemma.

He is later helped by a government agency that reveals that the person who he was mistaken for is non-existent, and as he helps them with their objective, he begins to fall for a woman who works for them, under the name of Eve Kendall. Eventually, with the help of park rangers and a bit of luck, they manage to apprehend the mastermind behind all the chaos, Phillip Vandamm.

City Locations

Long Island, Culver City, Chicago, New York City, Thousand Oaks, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Wasco

Location Types

American, Mansions, Naturescapes, Hotels/Motels, Police/Jails, Studios

Location Styles

Federal Building, Luxury Hotel, Office Building Style, Plane, Ranch Style

North By Northwest Locations

As North By Northwest features an executive running away from foreign spies, the movie made sure to use many different locations to show just how far they were willing to go to catch Roger Thornhill. With many different areas featured to showcase North by Northwest’s action scenes, you’re sure to bump into some of them if you happen to visit one of the cities used to film this movie.

While the movie features many in-city scenes where Thornhill evades his relentless pursuers, North By Northwest also utilizes more rural areas, as well as several landmarks that are well-known in the USA as well as the rest of the world.

Sir Alfred Hitchcock didn’t want to go to a South Dakota woodland to film several scenes and instead opted for planting one hundred ponderosa pines on an MGM sound stage. Included in this list is the famous Plaza Hotel as well as the renowned Mount Rushmore which helps solidify this film as one of the greatest films by Sir Joseph Alfred Hitchcock. This was the first and only time that Sir Alfred Hitchcock made a movie for MGM Studios.

Roger Thornhill talks to his secretary in North By Northwest

650 Madison Avenue, New York City, New York

The movie begins with a flood of people exiting an elevator with the camera focused on Roger Thornhill who seems to be talking with his secretary as they go through his itinerary for the day ahead. As they exit the office building where he works, he asks her what’s next on the list and she mentions, “Gretchen Sabinson”, to which Roger tells her to, “Send her a box of candy from Blum’s. Ten dollars. The kind… you know… each piece wrapped in gold paper? She’ll like that...”

Much like the rest of the introduction of the movie up until Roger gets kidnapped, many of the shots seen in the early minutes utilized New York City as the filming location of North By Northwest. Being close to many landmarks, especially Central Park, it's easy reaching the filming location for this scene at 650 Madison Avenue.

Since this location is located close to busy areas, there are plenty of ways to reach it including public transportation. To get there via train, you can take the N train anywhere south of the building and make a stop by the subway station at 5 AV/59 St. From there it’s a short walk to the building that was used to film North By Northwest.

Roger Thornhill is wrongfully kidnapped scene in North By Northwest

The Plaza Hotel, New York City, New York

The beginning of the movie introduces us to the advertising executive Roger Thornhill who is visiting the plaza hotel for a meeting. While talking to his associates, a bellboy calls and says, “Mr. George Kaplan!” to which Roger Thornhill says, oblivious to who the bellboy was calling for, “Boy – would you come here please?”

The camera then pans to two men who now eye Roger in a different manner, clearly thinking that he is Mr. George Kaplan. Moments later he is taken into a car by those two men eyeing him earlier, one of which has a gun pointed at Roger Thornhill’s heart.

This section of the film was shot at the Plaza Hotel located in New York City. This film by Sir Alfred Hitchcock was the first ever film to be shot on location at The Plaza Hotel, all movies prior that featured this hotel were merely Hollywood replica backdrops. The famous hotel is located at the edge of another famous landmark, Central Park, and to get to the hotel, you can drive along Broadway and then make a turn on West 59th Street going towards East 59th Street. At the corner of Central Park, you will be able to see the Plaza Hotel on the right-hand side.

Roger Thornhill searches for Lester Townsend scene in North By Northwest

U.N. General Assembly building, New York City, New York

As Roger Thornhill heads for the United Nations General Assembly Building, he climbs into a taxi and asks the driver to take him there. On the way there he mentions, “I’m being followed. Can you do anything about it?” To which the driver replies with, “Yes I can.” The audience then hears the revving of the engine which was meant to show that the taxi sped up to evade the pursuers. He then drops off Thornhill at the General Assembly Building moments later.

Sir Alfred Hitchcock didn’t get permission to film inside the U.N. so Roger Thornhill’s entrance into the United Nations building was shot across the street with a hidden camera. The interior of the building was later recreated on a sound stage.

The U.N. building is a massive building that is one of the few isolated blocks within New York City. To get to the filming location for this scene in North By Northwest, interested viewers can travel along 1st Avenue to come across the U.N. General Assembly building. From there you will be able to see the steps that Roger Thornhill took to get inside the building.

Roger evades pursuers scene in North By Northwest

Grand Central, New York City, New York

After escaping and entering the U.N. General Assembly Building to meet Townsend, when Roger meets him, he realizes that he isn’t the man that he met in Long Island. Townsend is killed when one of the thugs throws a knife and Roger is seen holding the knife that was thrown leading to many thinking that he is the murderer. He quickly evades his pursuers and heads into the subway station where police are searching for him. As he’s talking to his mother, we can hear him explain his hiding options saying, “No dear, the train is safer. Well because there’s no place to hide on a plane if anyone should recognize me.”

This scene that slowly panned to Roger Thornhill was shot within Grand Central, which at some point was the sixth most visited attraction in the world. With a place as packed as that, it's no wonder that nobody was able to find Roger Thornhill. Visit North By Northwest’s filming location by traveling either by train or by car. To get to it via a car, you can drive along 4th Avenue and then along Park Avenue South to get to the station. From there you can descend to the lower levels to find the area where this scene in North By Northwest was shot.

Crop duster Scene in North By Northwest

Garces Highway and Scofield Avenue, Wasco, California

With Eve Kendell explaining to Roger Thornhill that she has arranged a meeting with Kaplan at an isolated rural bus stop, Roger agrees to wait there in hopes that he finds answers to several big questions he has. However, as he waits there, he is suddenly attacked by a crop duster that appears in the surrounding landscape. He ducks for his life a couple of times to evade the threat and happens to stop a truck that brakes in the nick of time to prevent him from being run over.

However, the relentless crop duster doesn’t stop and crashes into one of the fuel tanks that the truck was carrying and explodes. The drivers, unaffected by the explosion, hop out and tell Roger to, “Get out of here, the other tank may blow!” With that, both the drivers and Roger flee the scene to get to a safer area.

Considered one of the most iconic North by Northwest action scenes, this crop duster scene was intended to subvert the cliché of a man lured into a dark alleyway by substituting it with the complete opposite – a bright day in a rural area. To get to this location, drive along the Central Valley Highway and then make a turn to drive down Garces Highway. You know you have reached the location when you meet the intersection between Garces Highway and Scofield Avenue.

Roger Thornhill poses as George Kaplan scene in North By Northwest

Mount Rushmore, Keystone, South Dakota

As Roger Thornhill waits for the arrival of the others, he and the professor have a chat as they blend in with the rest of the tourists. He asks the professor, “Suppose they don’t come?” The professor retorts with, “They’ll come.” He plans to negotiate Vandumm’s turnover of Kendall to be arrested. While shooting on the location of Mount Rushmore, Eva Marie Saint, the actress who played Eve Kendall, found that Cary Grant, the actor who played Roger Thornhill was charging fans fifteen cents per autograph.

Various scenes throughout this final sequence were shot at Mount Rushmore while others were shot at a studio replica of the location. To get to this famous location where the final sequence was shot, you can drive along US Highway 385 and then along the 244 to get to the famous landmark that represented the first 150 years of American history.

Conclusion

Released to the public more than 60 years ago, North By Northwest, began Sir Alfred Hitchcock’s hot streak with filmmaking. With the main character in disarray throughout the film (Cary Grant also had no idea what the film was about until its premiere), and its ever-so-intricate plot giving constant twists and turns, it's no wonder that North By Northwest became an instant classic.

In fact, it was selected in 1995 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. So whether you’re visiting Mount Rushmore or heading toward New York City, be sure to check out some of the famous locations featured in this film!

Citations

North by Northwest Movie Locations | On Location Tours

North By Northwest | Film Locations (movie-locations.com)

North by Northwest (1959) – locations - The Alfred Hitchcock Wiki

NORTH BY NORTHWEST (filminamerica.com)

North by Northwest (1959) - Filming & Production - IMDb

North by Northwest - Wikipedia

North by Northwest - filming locations (sceen-it.com)

http://www.thestudiotour.com/movies.php?movie_id=1428

13 Monumental Facts About ‘North by Northwest’ | Mental Floss