Screen Style: North by Northwest (1959)
My favourite Hitchcock ice queen is not Grace Kelly or Kim Novak, it’s Eva Marie Saint. Her role in North By Northwest is impeccably flawless, both in performance and style. As Eve Kendall, a delicate femme fatale, Saint is no damsel in distress but a sexy confident woman that outsmarts Cary Grant’s Roger Thornhill on several occasions, and wins his heart in the process.
In this tale of mistaken identity, an innocent man is pursued across the country by a devious organization with plans to smuggle a film containing government secrets. In the game of hide and seek, Roger Thornhill crosses paths with Eve Kendall, whom he meets on a snazzy mid-century passenger train — back when trains were highly erotic.
Eve is faultlessly coiffed and manicured, in that flawless Betty Draper kind of a way. Yet, there’s noting fussy about her. She sticks to a mostly neutral ensembles of black, white, navy and slate grey. With very little embellishment, Eve accessories with a delicate string of pearls, a slim lady watch, and a sumptuous coral lipstick, which never leaved her lovely lips, even when she descends Mount Rushmore. One one occasion, our minimalist leading lady spices things up with a grey silk cocktail frock, embellished with seductive red velvet roses that would make Thom Browne green with envy.
Believe it or not, Alfred Hitchcock, disliking the choices selected by MGM’s costume designers, picked up Eva Marie Saint’s wardrobe himself by simply walking into Bergdorf Goodman and selecting things off the rack. If film directing didn’t work out, he could’ve enjoyed a fulfilling career as a fashion stylist.
Eve: How do I know you aren’t a murderer?
Roger: You don’t.
Eve: Maybe you’re planning to murder me right here, tonight.
Roger: Shall I?
Eve: Please do.