What to Drink While Watching North by Northwest

Is Alfred Hitchcock the world’s most overrated filmmaker? Or should that award go to Pedro Almodóvar? Well, I have enjoyed more Almodóvar films than Hitchcock films, but the few Hitchcock films that I have enjoyed have provided me with more enjoyment than the Almodóvar films, and if there’s one Hitchcock film that never ceases to please me, and I say this after watching it again recently, it’s North by Northwest.


I’m including this in our “Movie & Booze” section so I had better start by making some reference to the drink aspect. The main character, Roger Thornhill (or should I say Robert Kaplan, heh heh, nudge nudge, wink wink) as played flawlessly by Cary Grant, has the stunning good taste to order a Gibson when he’s on the train, dodging the law and being bewitched by Eve Marie Saint who is unergetically playing the part of Eve Kendell. Now, for those of you who don’t know what a Gibson is, let me tell you it’s not a guitar. Well, it is, but not only. A Gibson is like a dry martini but with a pickled onion instead of an olive.


Now let’s see.


I have personally asked nine barmen /waiters for a Gibson in the last nine days and not one of them has known what I was talking about. When I have explained what a Gibson is, they have either grimaced, giggled, winced or shrugged. The point of the matter is, there is a crass ignorance stroke cultural lagoonism going on here in Zaragozan hostelry and I don’t think we’re limiting this to Zaragoza, oh no.


Pickled onions will always have the edge over olives. This is as true for cocktails as it is for anything else and I will leave their multifarious applications to your imagination which I sincerely doubt is as salacious as mine but good on you if I err.


Other drinks mentioned in North by Northwest are Scotch and Bourbon. I poured myself an inch of Ballantine’s when Eve poured Roger the same; he had his with water and urged there be no ice and I believe this is what the experts recommend, but actually I usually go for a bit of ice although on this occasion I didn’t because everything was cold already: the whisky, the glass, the room, me.


And Eve Marie Saint is cold, too. I have never taken to that actress. She’s not icy or cool or anything, she’s just cold. And the thing between her and Cary Grant is a bit creepy. He was 54 when this film was made and she was 36. Hitchcock knocks off ten years and decides that Eve Kendell has to be 26 years old, for reasons best known to him.


A lot has been written about Hitchcock’s misogyny and sure enough, our Eve comes across as the most unreliable double agent the CIA could come up with and we get the feeling that Hitch wouldn’t have minded if her lover Vandamm were to boot her out of the plane as planned.


Vandamm’s sidekick Leonard is played by the wondrous Martin Landau, who deserved a bigger part before getting shot on Mt Rushmore.


Anyway. This is a great film all round and Cary Grant is enormous. And I challenge you to sip a Gibson next time you watch it.



One response to this post.

  1. I found your website to be all kinds of things other than dogshit. Thank you for identifying Cary’s cocktail, as that was the reason I came. Also, do you like dogshit? Thanks, Miles


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