International terrorist threats have escalated into outright warfare since the awful attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon.
Protective measures are in full swing around the world and one major concern is that cunning, desperate and ruthless terrorist organisations may resort to biological warfare technology. With this risk in mind, crop-spraying aircraft have been grounded near strategic locations - a move presaged by the classic Alfred Hitchcock film "North by Northwest" starring Cary Grant.
The biggest fear is that smallpox virus might be used. The US government is investing heavily in research into an antidote for the virus that could be used in the event of a terrorist attack using it.
Six main microbiological agents that might be used in terrorist attacks are discussed in a report in "the Times" newspaper of September 29 2001 (view this report in a new browser window). It must be stressed that there are immense logistical and technical problems in acquiring, manufacturing and delivering biological weapons so we are still more at risk of being damaged or killed by motor cars than by "bioterrorist bombs".
Anthrax is a bacterium that has a long history (going back to the second world war) of development for military usage. Many countries now require military personnel to be vaccinated against anthrax.
As a bioterror weapon, anthrax is easy organism to obtain, stockpile and handle.
An online lecture on anthrax is available....
Anthrax bioterrorism: News Anthrax effects & biology in humans & animals: Lecture
Another recent report in "the Times" newspaper is entitled "The sensible person's survival guide" to bioterrorist threats (view this report in a new browser window).
North by Northwest - the classic film on surviving terrorist attacks
Starring: Cary Grant & Eva Marie Saint, Director: Alfred Hitchcock
"A strong candidate for possibly the most entertaining and enjoyable film ever made by a Hollywood studio" - Jim Emerson.
North by Northwest is positioned between the much heavier and more profoundly disturbing Vertigo (1958) and the stark horror of Psycho (1960). In the corpus of Alfred Hitchcock films it shows the director at his most effervescent in a romantic comedy-thriller that also features one of the definitive Cary Grant performances. Which is not to say that this is just "Hitchcock Lite".
It's a classic Hitchcock Wrong Man scenario: Grant is Roger O Thornhill (initials ROT), an advertising executive who is mistaken by enemy spies for a US undercover agent named George Kaplan. Convinced these sinister fellows (James Mason as the boss and Martin Landau as his henchman) are trying to kill him, Roger flees and meets a sexy Stranger on a Train (Eva Marie Saint), with whom he engages in one of the longest, most convolutedly choreographed kisses in screen history. And of course there are the famous set pieces: the stabbing at the United Nations, the crop-duster plane attack in the cornfield (where a pedestrian has no place to hide) and the cliffhanger finale atop the stone faces of Mount Rushmore. With its sparkling Ernest Lehman script and that pulse-quickening Bernard Herrmann score, what more could a filmgoer possibly desire?
The BOOK of "North by Northwest" (availability)
The first publication of the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's romantic thriller. Made in 1959, North by Northwest is one of Alfred Hitchcock's most beloved thrillers, an enticing cocktail of suspense, comedy, eroticism, and danger. In the film, Cary Grant is a suave but stiff-necked executive who finds himself mistaken for a United States intelligence agent and, as a result, is forced into a series of life-threatening encounters with the villainous James Mason. Grant's consolation is that he also becomes involved with the elegant female spy played by Eva Marie Saint. But the game of international intrigue is played for high stakes --and in high style: in the film's classic sequences, Grant is chased across cornfields by a crop-dusting plane and, later, is forced to climb the slopes of Mount Rushmore's National Memorial to escape his pursuers.
The screenplay is the work of one of the most versatile and successful American screenwriters, Ernest Lehman, who provides an Introduction that explores the process of collaborating with Hitchcock on the film. Also the author of the screenplays for such different films as Sweet Smell of Success and The Sound of Music, Lehman managed in this work to combine witty wordplay and thoughtful suspense in such a way that North by Northwest stands as the epitome of Hitchcock's elegant, entertaining thrillers.
The film and music have just been re-released (2001) on DVD (availability)
The wide-screen DVD print of the movie looks remarkably fresh, preserving the vivid depth of the original's MGM VistaVision cinematography. The main extra feature is a new and entertaining 40-minute documentary hosted by Eva Marie Saint in which most of the surviving cast and crew give their insights into the making of the picture (we learn for example that canny Cary Grant charged 15 cents per autograph!). Screenwriter Ernest Lehman provides an audio commentary and on a separate audio-only track Bernard Herrmann's masterful score can be heard in its entirety. There is also a stills gallery and the original theatrical trailers. - review by Mark Walker"North by Northwest" is now available on DVD
Remember that DVDs are security-encoded to work only in certain countries..
Click on one of these direct links to purchase the DVD for:
Region 1: USA, Canada Region 2: Europe, Middle East, Japan
"North by Northwest" is also available on VIDEO (VHS/PAL format)
but only from Amazon UK (delivers world-wide): click here for details
"North by Northwest" - the BOOK
only available now from Amazon USA (delivers world-wide):
click here for details
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