The Tourist: A Thin Copy of Hitchcock’s North by Northwest

I watched director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s movie The Tourist last night with a combination of jaw-dropping astonishment and despair.

Starring Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, it is a remake of the 2005 French movie Anthony Zimmer directed by Jerome Salle. What amazed me was not so much Depps flat and wooden portrayal of Frank Tupelo, a maths teacher and victim of mistaken identity nor Joile’s Elise Clifton-Ward character who’s English accent occilated between Mayfair and East London. It was because it was like watching a movie written by someone who has badly remembered Hitchcock’s North by Northwest but left out all the best bits.


For those who don’t know North By Northwest was a classic 1959 suspense movie directed by Alfred Hichcock, starring Cary Grant and Eve Marie Saint.

Here are some similarities.

Frank Tupelo [Depp] is mistaken by the police as a criminal and chased on a speeding train. So is Roger Thornhill [Grant] in North By Northwest.

Elise Clifton-Ward [Jolie] a beautiful, mysterious woman befriends Tupelo on a stylish railway train. Eve Kendall [Saint] befriends Thornhill in the same way.

The real “criminal” in The Tourist is Reginald Shaw [Steven Berkoff]. He seems very English but is in fact a brutal Russian who will kill to get what he wants. In North By Northwest, Phillip VanDamm [James Mason] another British Actor plays a Russian spy who will stop at nothing to get what he wants.

Clifton-Ward is actually a secret agent working for the Government, as is Eve Kendall.

Both Clifton-Ward and Kendall are sexually attracted to the men they befriend, taking the initiative in their erotic encounters.

The “spy-master” in North By Northwest [The Professor, played by veteran British actor Leo G. Carroll] went on to play Mr. Waverley in the iconic super-spy TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Veteran British actor Timothy Dalton, who played super-

spy James Bond in the 1980’s, plays the “spymaster” in The Tourist.

Tupelo escapes from his bedroom and climbs up a building in his bare feet. Thornhill escapes from his bedroom in a pair of bedroom slippers and climbs up a building in his stocking feet…

At the end of North By Northwest, Hitchcock makes fun of Freudian imagery by having the train in which Thornhill and Kendall are travelling disappear into a tunnel just as they get into bed. Donnersmarche uses this same shot when Tupelo and Clifton-Ward are on the train.

Donnersmache has his own joke on Freud at the end of The Tourist. As Tupelo and Clifton-Ward motor off into the sunset on a sail-boat, the sail is released causing the tall mast to appear to swell suddenly…

It is when you watch a movie like The Tourist, that you realise what a brilliant and influential Director Alfred Hitchcock really was…

About stevehollier

Steve Hollier is the editor of AZ Magazine, an English language lifestyle magazine based in Baku, Azerbaijan. He began his career working for a firm of stockbrokers in the City of London then went on to attend the University of Essex where he was awarded an MA in Sociology in 1984. After a career in arts and cultural development work, he became a freelance arts consultant, writer and photographer.
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4 Responses to The Tourist: A Thin Copy of Hitchcock’s North by Northwest

  1. hugh paxton says:

    Remakes suck. Don’t mess with pefection, say I. Although Romero’s retake on Night of the Living Dead was an exception. Much better. In this case he remade it. Himself. Much more ghastly! But overall I’m with you. Won’t be watching this one!



  2. Greg Parch says:

    i was watching the tourist today and i kept thinking: this looks like something hitchcock would do but in a very low quality. And then i saw all the similiraties to north by northwest that is one of my favorite movies

  3. Megan Erbele says:

    I still haven’t seen The Tourist yet, but when the trailer first came out, this is exactly what I thought! Hitchcock for the win!

  4. Niki says:

    Hi Steve, I stumbled upon your blog while searching for a poster/ print of “North by Northwest” featuring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint’s conversation during their train ride up the Hudson River. Would you mind sharing where you were able to find that amazing print above — the one where Grant is lighting Saint’s cigarette? Thank you so much! (And by the way, I wholeheartedly concur with your post!)

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