There’s a superabundance of sparkling, often marvellously terse one-liners (when asked what the “O” stands for, Thornhill’s resigned and emotionally relevant answer is, “Nothing”) – and, my, how wittily Grant delivers them.
This is Hitchcock's longest film and also his most self-referential. Little jokes abound about art and artifice, role play and reality, duty and duplicity and each viewing reveals something new to enhance the pleasure of watching the Master of Suspense at his most mischievous and assured.
The Hollywood Reporter
This film is pure entertainment.
The picture is hugely pleased with itself, but it’s too funny and expertly calibrated to mind in the least. Both Hitchcock and Grant raise relaxed confidence to masterpiece level here.
North by Northwest is the Alfred Hitchcock mixture - suspense, intrigue, comedy, humor. Seldom has the concoction been served up so delectably.
TV Guide Magazine
NORTH BY NORTHWEST has everything--thrills, suspense, mystery, and black humor, as well as dark undertones of sexual exploitation and covert political machination.
A great film, and certainly one of the most entertaining movies ever made, directed by Alfred Hitchcock at his peak.
The New York Times
The lines and the expert manipulation of the principals are tributes to the outstanding talents of Messrs. Lehman and Hitchcock.
North by Northwest is also surprisingly forthright when it comes to sexual matters. There aren't many euphemisms or double entendres in the interaction between Thornhill and Eve.