“North by Northwest” blunder

One of the most glaring visual errors in major motion-picture history was Alfred Hitchcock‘s decision to use this shot from North by Northwest (1959). A seated pre-pubescent kid (directly to the right of Eva Marie Saint‘s left shoulder blade), having obviously grown tried of listening to loud blam! blam! pistol shots over and over in rehearsals and/or previous takes, plugs his ears prior to Saint “shooting” Cary Grant.

  • jeffmcm

    Obviously this was before video and Hitchcock assumed nobody would be watching and re-watching the movie enough to care.

  • christian

    here’s my french theory:

    the boy saw the gun, got scared and plugged his ears.

    finis.

  • http://www.hollywood-elsewhere.com gruver1

    Wells to jeffmcm: It’s still sloppy as hell. His team must have seen the boo-boo. Hitch’s assistant director screwed up big-time here. Of course, if such a blunder had happened today (i.e., if this was the only take printed and intended for use), the kid’s ear-plugging could easily be CG-erased.

  • http://visceralfilm.blogspot.com thevisceral

    It’s a Brechtian device.

  • Wrecktum

    During the same sequence a mother and two kids (clearly not part of the shoot) are in the background waving to the camera as Grant and Saint act their scene. A lot more famous boo-boo from one of the greatest thrillers ever made.

  • alynch

    There’s a worse error later in the movie at the Mt. Rushmore scenes. Cary Grant is wrestling with one of the bad guys and they actually roll onto the painted background. It looks as if they’re floating in mid-air.

  • jeffmcm

    Well if you want to talk about really big mistakes, at the end of the movie Cary Grant is having sex with Eva Marie Saint and instead of showing his penis entering her vagina, Hitchcock cuts to an unrelated shot of the train they are in. What a ripoff!

  • Dublin101

    “It’s a Brechtian device.”

    Even if it’s not I like that excuse. I think it’s a rather charming blooper and I see no reason to be irritated by it. I mean, North by Northwest is a breezy trifle that has does not take itself seriously and this mistake is consistent with the light-hearted tone of the movie.

  • Wrecktum

    Absolutely, Dublin101. Wells is, yet again, being a snotty curmudgeon. Cricizing a Hitchcock movie because an extra (a child at that!) screws up in one shot…what’s that all about.

    Next thing you know he’ll be vilifying ET for the “Penis Breath” scene kurfuffle.

  • Dublin101

    At the risk of sounding like a brown nose, I actually like the fact that Jeff is a hardchaw. If I agreed with all of his opinions I probably would be as engaged by this site.

    Plus the guy does put up a lot of people slagging him off on his own webpage.

  • Dublin101

    Typo correction: I probably would NOT be as engaged by this site.

  • bmcintire

    My guess is that Jeffrey threw this ancient blooper up on his site to start a thread of either notorious or little-known (depending on how new this particular tidbit is to him) gaffes. Aside from a couple of bites on the same film, it turned into another Weels pile-on. Hilarious.

  • bmcintire

    Wells, Weels, whomever.

  • bfm

    Hey, I’m a parent. Maybe his Dad was just telling him that if he didn’t eat his lunch, they’d be no ice cream. Sticking your fingers in your ears is just the kind of thing my son would do in protest :-)

  • Craig Kennedy

    That’s it. I’m burning my Hitchcock collection. What an f’ing hack.

  • DarthCorleone

    Yeah, I do wonder about the motive of this post, as I suspect the vast majority of the readers here who are fans of North By Northwest were already aware of this flub. I clicked on the comments thinking that there was some new information about this scene and that the “read more” link on the article failed to pop up.

    So, I’ll share a famous gaffe: after Bishop is torn in half, you can see Lance Henriksen’s lower half in the hole in the floor as he saves Newt from the vacuum of space at the end of Aliens.

    Anyway, if nothing else, reading this comments section cause me to learn a little about Brecht.

    For the record – mistakes be damned – North By Northwest is flawless as far as I’m concerned.

  • Dellos

    if you look closely the guy with the white hair

    has his fingers in his ears too

  • cjKennedy

    That’s it. I’m burning my Hitchcock collection. What an f’ing hack.

  • Chris Willman

    Here is my favorite gaffe of all time:

    On the laserdisc of “Body of Evidence,” there’s a sex scene between Madonna and Willem Dafoe. And, at the bottom of the frame, when all the thrusting is going on, you can see… Dafoe’s limp dick, flopping around listlessly! I kid you not. This may have just been a case of bad framing on the LD, and perhaps it was never shown that way, correctly projected, in theaters, and I’m sure it must have been “corrected” on the DVD. (Anyone up to checking?)

    Anyway, I like to believe that this was deliberate on the director’s part–a statement that the truest response to Madonna in femme fatale mode is flaccidity.

  • Hallick

    Looks like wet willy practice to me.

  • Wrecktum

    If you look closely during Christian Slater’s famous, hot sex scene in The Name of the Rose, you can see the same kind of limp-dickedness.

  • Silverscreenvideos

    Why didn’t he hire someone to do some CGI work and replace the kid with Fred Astaire and a vacuum cleaner?

  • Cadavra

    Another noteworthy gaffe: JURASSIC PARK shows humans and dinosaurs living in the same era!

  • Dan Revill

    Cadavra, that’s awesome!

    Little known fact that Hitchcock came out of the editing room and said, “Fuck that kid!” after his final cut of NxNW.

    No one knew exactly what he meant, until this week, when Jeff Wells, in a brilliant moment of investigative journalism, blew the lid off the entire thing!

    Okay, seriously, is there a movie around that is completely gaffe free?

  • malibugigolo

    Also: The gun was not loaded with real bullets!

  • Aladdin Sane

    Cadavra, that’s awesome!

    Little known fact that Hitchcock came out of the editing room and said, “Fuck that kid!” after his final cut of NxNW.
    No one knew exactly what he meant, until this week, when Jeff Wells, in a brilliant moment of investigative journalism, blew the lid off the entire thing!

    Okay, seriously, is there a movie around that is completely gaffe free?

  • http://www.spares2you.co.uk/ miele spares

    “Why didn’t he hire someone to do some CGI work and replace the kid with Fred Astaire and a vacuum cleaner?”

    :)) Good idea, mate! :)

  • http://arbarb.com flicksforever