Sunday, 16 November 2014

Mount Rushmore SD, USA

When advertising executive Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) in NORTH BY NORTWEST is mistaken for a secret agent it will bring him from New York to Mount Rushmore with several detours. Not quite coincidental, because director Alfred Hitchcock had always wanted the monument as a location for a chase scene in one of his movies.

Trailer North by Northwest
In the film’s trailer Alfred Hitchcock introduces his film with Mount Rushmore prominently on the poster. The enormous sculpture was carved between 1925 en 1939 into the granite face of the Black Hills near Keystone, South Dakota, by a team of workers led by Gutzon Borglum. The four figures are United States presidents, from left to right George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

The granite of the mountain is very durable and the memorial hardly suffers from weather conditions and erosion. Mount Rushmore remains a popular tourist attraction with more than two million visitors each year. The entrance is free, but fees are required to park at the monument.

The location shoot took place on 16 October 1958 after The National Park Service had granted permission but requested that no scenes of violence were filmed on or near the memorial. This condition was accepted and the scenes with the chase and gun shooting were made in a film studio in Hollywood where parts of Mount Rushmore were recreated. Only the scenes with the four presidents in the background were actually filmed on location.

North by Northwest, 1:40:41
Mount Rushmore, 11 August 2008
North by Northwest, 1:40:50
Mount Rushmore, 11 August 2008
North by Northwest, 1:40:46
Mount Rushmore, 11 August 2008

The film shows a panorama view terrace and a restaurant, nowadays visitors can choose between an Information Center, a Visitor Center and the Sculptor’s Studio, amongst others. During our visit the restaurant had only two menu options: spaghetti and a grilled rooster.

North by Northwest, 1:45:42
Mount Rushmore, 11 August 2008

From March until September Mount Rushmore is also open at night and the monument is being illuminated, contrary to the film when Roger Thornhill and Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) are standing in the dark on Jefferson’s head.

North by Northwest, 2:10:33
Mount Rushmore, 11 August 2008

Screenshots © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

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