HITCHCOCK’S North by Northwest (1958) is another one of the master’s suspenseful classics that makes superb use of period automobiles as the “vehicles” of plot driven suspense.
The film’s dialogue between Cary Grant’s character (Roger Thornhill) and a slyly evil North Shore hostess also serves as a kind of linguistics key of the day: the characters pronouncing “Mercedes” as MEHR-SE-DES instead of today’s more commonplace, MUR-SAY-DEEZ.
Commercially, Hitchcock’s use of cars must’ve gone over well with MGM execs.
The Mercedes-Benz 220SE carbio was featured in the now-iconic drunk driving chase sequence along the Long Island coast and Benz found double mention in dialogue in a subsequent scene.
Roger Thornhill vainly attempts to confront the evil hostess (“Woman” per script) in her home before incredulous detectives and Thornhill’s own unmoved mother, Mrs. Thornhill.
Hitchcock and writer Ernest Lehman waste no time in developing the plot while weaving Mercedes into the story with expertise.
Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Edsel, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Lincoln, Jaguar, and even a Freightliner truck all find screentime and purpose in the film; though Cadillac and Mercedes feature most prominently in action scenes.
That said, the Daimler-Benz co. did enjoy a slick sleight of hand when during the finale of Thornhill’s drunken escape by Benz, a three car pileup ensues leaving the 220SE miraculously unscathed.
German solidity v. American tin? Nein. Bumper extension.
By Gunnar Heinrich
I’VE run out of platitudes to praise Johannes Schlorb. Needless to say, he’s a great photographer.
The blogger and very talented photographer runs a site featuring the magnificent Mercedes-Benz 560SEL. Occasionally, his camera lens will find other classic Benzes in addition to W126 generation S-Class sedans and the content – to use gray media language – proves to be every bit as entertaining.
From what I got out of Babelfish (his site’s in German), Herr Schlorb attended a “safety training” get together orchestrated by a local Benz Club somewhere south of the former West German capital Bonn.
As many of the Teutons taking part in the Tri-Star slip ‘n slide were old enough to carry the label “Made in West Germany,” (a practice discontinued after 1985) the location was apt.
It’s not every day that you see a W108 SE drifting running over traffic cones or an R107 SL sideways; which is part of why the event’s shots are so compelling!
Many more polished images are available for sale or simply to peruse through via his website. Never has safety training looked like so much fun.