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.
Continuity mistake: While Thornhill and his mother are investigating Kaplan's hotel room, he decides to try on one of the man's suits from the closet to see if he and Kaplan are similar in stature. He tries on a navy or dark colored suit coat and then holds the pants up against himself to check the length. In the close up of the trousers, they are now a light gray in color. The camera returns to a full shot and, once again, he has the darker trousers in his hands. You can also see the light gray suit in the closet behind him.
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.
Continuity mistake: In the last scene before Chicago the train is going through the tunnel at Breakneck Pass north of Cold Spring NY. When they're going back home at the end of the movie theoretically they should be going the same way but they're not. The final tunnel shot in North by Northwest is the Southern Pacific railroad tunnel between Santa Susana and Chatsworth California.
01:00:10 - 02:16:05????
Continuity mistake: Near the beginning of the film, as Thornhill has arrived at The Plaza and is opening the door of the taxi to exit it; visible through the rear window is a red and white Ford taxi, parked behind Thornhill's taxi. Instantaneously, in the next shot taken from the sidewalk, he is shown completing his exit from the cab. Now however, there is a light colored Dodge taxi cab parked directly behind them.
Continuity mistake: On the patio outside the restaurant at Mt. Rushmore the professor goes inside first. His shadow falls upward to the right, there is no glare on the upper windows and no building shadow on the ground. Thornhill walks in seconds later and his shadow falls downwards to the left, there is a strong glare on the windows and the building casting a shadow on the ground.
Plot hole: When Eve is being led out to the airplane, she bolts when two shots are fired from inside the house (presumably Anna firing at Thornhill, not realizing that the gun was loaded with blanks). Moments later, she jumps into a car driven by Thornhill, and they escape together. There is no way Thornhill could have gotten there that fast, given that he was in the house only seconds earlier.
Continuity mistake: Thornhill and his mother go to Kaplan's hotel room, room 796, to check the place out. There are two telephones in the room and both phones have old-fashioned non-coil cords connecting the phone and the handset. But when Thornhill rings the buzzer to summon the maid you can see that the phone suddenly has a more modern coil handset cord.
Plot hole: The villains try to kill Cary Grant by getting him drunk and sending him off a cliff in a white Mercedes. He manages to get back on the road and they follow him in a Cadillac limousine. Cary passes a parked police car which gives chase. He brakes to avoid a bicyclist and the police car rear-ends the Mercedes. Immediately a blue 1941 Ford rear-ends the police car. Where did it come from? It would have to have been ahead of the Cadillac and very close to the police car to do so, but it doesn't appear until the moment of impact.
Revealing mistake: Thornhill & the "Professor" have a chat on the airport tarmack, in which it's revealed to Thornhill that Eve is a secret agent and in danger. At that moment the camera dollies in on Thornhill for dramatic effect. As it does, the distant airplane in the background gets closer very nearly as fast as does actor Cary Grant, revealing that the background in this scene is, in fact, a rear projection on a screen just beyond the actor.
Deliberate mistake: One of Eva Marie Saint's lines in the dining car seduction scene was re-dubbed. She originally said, "I never make love on an empty stomach," but it was changed in post-production to "I never discuss love on an empty stomach." It is said that the censors felt the original version was too risqué.
Continuity mistake: In the scene on the train in the dining car, the flower arrangement on the table changes. When the shot is over Cary Grant's shoulder the flowers are pink carnations with four large leaves, but when the shot is over Eve Marie Saint's shoulder it's a smaller display of pink daisies with one leaf.
Continuity mistake: When Cary Grant arrives at the hotel in Chicago, he sees Eva Marie Saint enter an elevator. By looking at the indicator light he sees that she has gotten off on the fourth floor. He would have had to have binoculars to see the elevator indicator light from where he was standing.
Continuity mistake: When Cary Grant's character, Roger Thornhill arrives at the UN building in search of George Kaplan we see his shadow fall onto the door of the cab, as if the sun is behind him. But when you look at the pedestrians on the sidewalk, their shadow falls in the opposite direction. Simple mistake to make when using 3 point lighting in a studio environment to produce a rear projection process shot.
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.
Continuity mistake: When Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint are riding in the dinner car on the train, there are several instances where the landscape/view as seen from their window repeats itself. Keep an eye out for a bridge they never get any closer to, and a section of tall iron work near the tracks they keep passing over and over.
Continuity mistake: In the scene where Cary Grant runs out of the hotel and jumps into a waiting cab, the two bad guys giving chase immediately jump in the next cab and should be the very next vehicle right behind Cary Grant's. But when Cary Grant looks behind him through the cab window to see if he's being followed, the bad guy's cab has disappeared. We get a clear line of sight all the way back to the hotel and the car is not there. Instead we see a third cab pulling into the space they just left.
Audio problem: When Thornhill and Kendall reunite after the shooting, they are obviously on a soundstage and not on location in the wilderness. There is absolutely no background noise, which is impossible in the outdoors: leaves rustling, birds calling, water trickling, wind gusting, etc. prevent the complete silence depicted by the movie. The quality of the actors' voices also sounds like indoors rather than an open space.
Continuity mistake: The top and back of Mount Rushmore looks nothing like they portray it in the final scenes of the film. This is a mountain, and they would need climbing equipment to get to the top of the mountain. Also there are no trees at the top, and the is a vault at the top of the mountain, behind the monuments. This vault was originally planned to be used as a museum, but Congress withdrew funding because of World War II, and the museum was never completed.
Continuity mistake: During the crop-duster scene, the sun appears to gyrate around wildly, particularly when Cary Grant runs towards the Magnum Oil truck, forcing it to stop. The sun at this point is low down at this point with the shadow going long to the right (evening). When Cary Grant stands up and the driver tells him to run (after the crop-duster crashes into the truck), the sun has backed up to almost overhead with a very short shadow to the right (mid-day). This scene was apparently shot on the Garces Highway west of Delano, California in the flat Central Valley, a short distance east of Corcoran Road. Garces Highway is almost exactly east-west. All through the crop-duster scene the shadows appear in unexpected orientations from take to take.
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