Tag Archives: North by Northwest

Architecture: Grand Central Station

 

With 44 platforms and 67 tracks, Grand Central Terminal (its official name) handles both rail and subway trains in Manhattan. Uploaded by panoramio.com.

As I read about this building in preparation for this post, I find that its correct name is “Grand Central Terminal.” Okay, that’s nice. But most Americans call it “Station,” and that’s good enough for me. Seems to me if you have 44 platforms and 67 tracks, you’re pretty big just to be a simple terminal.

Though railroad buildings have stood on this site since 1871, the current structure began service in 1914. Surprisingly, much of the architectural work

Uploaded by igougo.com.

for which the building is noted was not created by a prominent New York firm, but by the firm of Reed and Stern from St. Paul, Minnesota. It did cooperate on some of the Beaux-Arts with the NYC firm of Warren and Wetmore.

Most people recognize Grand Central for its cavernous main concourse, which has been featured in dozens of movies, from North by Northwest to Men in Black to The Freshman. GCS came in number 13 in the AIA compilation of America’s favorite architecture.

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Film: Rear Window

Jimmy Stewart was laid up in his apartment with a broken leg. He had nothing to do but stare at his neighbors across the courtyard - one of whom may have murdered his wife. Uploaded by cdn.mos.totalfilm.com.

Alfred Hitchcock was at his very best during the period of time in which he made Rear Window. In a six-year period, he also made Dial M for Murder, To Catch a Thief, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Psycho. Has any director ever had a run like that?

Uploaded by altfg.com.

Rear Window featured Jimmy Stewart (Great American Things, April 8, 2009) as a photographer, confined to his New York City apartment with a broken leg. He looks out at his neighbors across the courtyard, and becomes convinced that one of them (Raymond Burr) has murdered his wife. He enlists the help of his girlfriend, played by the incredibly beautiful Grace Kelly (Great American Things, August 30, 2009).and nurse (Thelma Ritter) to solve the mystery, and ends up putting all their lives in jeopardy.

Although the film was nominated for four Academy Awards, it came away empty. Even so, the review site RottenTomatoes.com gives the movie a rare “100% fresh” rating. And the American Film Institute named it number 42  in its 100 Years…100 Movies series, and number 14 in 100 Years…100 Thrills.

Americana: Mount Rushmore

Washington, as the first president, Jefferson for the Louisiana Purchase, Lincoln for unifying the country, and Teddy Roosevelt for leading into the 20th century. Uploaded by surveying.mentablolism.org.

Okay, first the amazing scale of Mount Rushmore. The memorial covers 1,278 acres. The heads of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Lincoln are about 60 feet across. At that rate, the entire bodies would have been 465 feet tall. The carving took fourteen years to complete, and more than 800 million pounds of stone were removed during its creation.

Located near Keystone, South Dakota, Mount Rushmore was called “Six Grandfathers” by the nearby Lakota Indians. A local historian conceived of turning it into a monument to our presidents as a way of increasing tourism in South Dakota. It’s definitely accomplished that goal – more than two million people visit the monument each year.

Mount Rushmore was a giant prop in Hitchcock's North by Northwest. Uploaded by whatsontv.co.uk.

Chosen as the sculptor was Gutzon Borglun, a student of French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Borglun was the natural choice, having just completed the carving of Confederate generals on Stone Mountain, Georgia. Carving began in 1927, supervised alternately by Gutzon and his son, Lincoln. Sadly, Gutzon Borglun didn’t live to see the dedication, dying from an embolism just before the monument’s dedication in March, 1941.

Oh, and if you think Congress only recently started losing its senses, consider this: In 1937, a bill was introduced to add the head of Susan B. Anthony to the mountain. Really. You can’t make this stuff up.