North by Northwest

Factual error: When Cary Grant is attacked by the crop duster, he is supposed to be between Chicago and Indianapolis. Unfortunately, northwest Indiana looks nothing like this. The scene in the movie has miles and miles of treeless landscape. Even in the flattest farmlands of Indiana, there are many visible groves of trees.

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Factual error: In New York, a newspaper headline reads, MANHUNT ON FOR UN KILLER, with a smaller headline below reading "Nixon promises West will remain in Berlin". The next night Eva Marie Saint reads the crop-duster plane story in the Chicago Sun-Times. Since the Sun-Times was a morning paper and the accident occurred in the afternoon, she must have been reading the following morning's edition. But a smaller headline underneath carries the same story: "Nixon promises West will remain in Berlin"; two days later, it's old news.

Factual error: The date shown on the newspaper after Cary Grant is accused of stabbing the diplomat at the U.N. is Nov. 25, 1958. The subsequent outdoor scenes clearly show leaves on the trees and people dressed for warmer weather.

Factual error: At the end the couple are supposed to be returning from Rapid City, SD, to New York by train. The last shot shows a locomotive of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The word "Pacific" on the two locomotives has been covered over (but not on the baggage and four passenger cars visible before fade-to-black). The consist is a mix of SP paint schemes, all of which identify the railroad regardless of names on the side. It would have been easy for them to obtain SP train equipment in LA, but it seems odd that they would have bothered to modify the railroad name on the locomotives, particularly since it changes the name to the name of a another real railroad that didn't serve the US north of Cincinnati and Washington D.C.: the Southern Railway.

1

Factual error: The 20th Century Limited train, where Grant and Saint first meet, is supposed to be heading west in the afternoon, past the Great Lakes which should be on the right side of the train, but the lakes are visible through the windows on the left, so the views were shot heading east, and the supposed lowering late afternoon sun would in fact be the sun soon after sunrise.

1

Factual error: The address of the art auction is 1212 N. Michigan. Michigan Avenue only extends north to the 900 block.

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North by Northwest mistake picture

Continuity mistake: When in James Mason's house in South Dakota, Cary Grant writes a message to Eva Marie Saint on a matchbook from which several matches are missing. When Ms. Saint subsequently reads the message the matchbook is full.

More mistakes in North by Northwest

[Roger Thornhill's matchbook carries the initials RoT.]
Eve Kendall: What does the O stand for?
Roger Thornhill: Oh, nothing.

More quotes from North by Northwest

Trivia: In the scene when Cary Grant is going up the steps to the UN, Alfred Hitchcock shot it from a rug truck across the street. He wasn't allowed to shoot the front of the UN. If you look closely, you can see a security guard in the left corner.

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Question: Several times in the movie one character is able to ascertain in which hotel room another character is staying simply by asking the front desk for the room number. Was this realistic at the time the movie was made? Today, a hotel would never divulge a guest's room number to a stranger, since such information could potentially be used by burglars and/or predators to gain access to hotel rooms. Was security really that lax in the 1950s?

Answer: Not really. You could (and at some hotels are still able to) keep your room number private or you could not - i.e. you could ask the hotel staff to keep your number secret from strangers, or you could ask them to tell anyone who might ask. Not having seen this movie, I don't know how likely it would be in the situations you speak of that the hotel guest would choose the latter option- it might be a mistake.

Blibbetyblip

Answer: Yes, security was that lax in the 1950s and beyond. People could acquire all kinds of information about individuals from various types of businesses. Not all were so careless, but many were or they naively didn't see a concern. In the late 1980s, I was a student at a university where a non-university person obtained his ex-girlfriend's class schedule simply by requesting it in-person from the registrar's office. Using that information, he was able to locate and fatally shoot her on campus.

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