Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Incredible Suit's 30-Minute Freeze-Frame Challenge #6: North By Northwest

The 30-Minute Freeze-Frame Challenge is a futile, inane experiment which judges a film's merits entirely on how good it looks at 30-minute intervals according to arbitrary and indistinct criteria applied by The Incredible Suit. For previous challenges, click the links on the right.

Ploughing on through the slings and arrows of outrageous but entirely justifiable criticism, the 30MFFC arrives this week, battered, bruised but undaunted, at a landmark film in its history.

The Incredible Suit viewer Andrew Didn'tgivehislastname suggested that The Undisputed Greatest Director Of All Time, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, should have one of his films tested to see if it passes the ultimate challenge. And why not; his films have topped nearly every other poll or award ceremony going (except the Oscars, but what do they know) - what's left to conquer for the great man but the 30MFFC?

So I plumped for North By Northwest. Not because it's my favourite Hitchcock (it's my third favourite) but because it's the film that I first watched and thought: every frame of this movie is perfect. The seeds of the 30-Minute-Freeze-Frame Challenge were sown. Years later, with a pointless chunderbag of a blog in which to spew all my brain-vomit, I finally have a chance to test my theory.

And with that unpleasant metaphor fresh in our minds, let us begin:

0:30:00 Here's Roger Thornhill and his mum looking like they've eaten an old kebab they found down the back of the sofa. Cary Grant + Technicolor = Bronze God.

1:00:00 Having sold Rodge his clothes for a few lousy bucks, this porter can finally buy some new long johns. Old man in underwear + Technicolor = Great-looking old man in underwear.

1:30:00 Here's Roger being politely asked to leave the auction house. Note how carefully Hitchcock positions his actors, even in a fast-moving shot. He doesn't just throw this stuff together you know. Unlike me.

2:00:00 Here's a tiny matchbook that you can hardly see playing a massively crucial role in a nail-bitingly tense scene. This could well be the greatest shot the 30MFFC has seen.


The Master proves his worth, becoming only the second director in the history of time to have a film pass the 30-Minute Freeze-Frame Challenge. I ummed and aahed a bit to be honest, what with the second shot being a semi-naked senior citizen and the third being a bit blurry, but that Technicolor sheen could make Shia LaBeouf almost watchable, so in the end it had to be a pass.

There's a big list of suggestions for future 30MFFCs, and I'll do them all if I can get hold of them. However despite my palpably encyclopaedic knowledge of all cinematic output ever, I don't actually own every DVD ever released. What I'm saying is keep bunging your ideas at me but don't leap under a bus if I don't feature your choice. In the meantime, bung away!

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  1. I think Amelie has a strong chance of passing this, or something from Kurosawa. Seventh Samurai maybe.

  2. Consider them standing in the queue like Robert Carlyle and Tom Wilkinson in the job centre in The Full Monty, but without the weird dancing.