A classic title design by frequent Hitchcock collaborator Saul Bass. This fast moving, tightly-paced sequence is highly symbolic, the intercutting lines a visual representation of the many crossroads that Cary Grant will stumble upon during his journey. The emotionless green background eventually gives way to an office building, suggesting that high functioning society is similarly dispassionate. In the third section, the aggressive hustle and bustle of a thousand people confirms that the city, that ultimate hub of human activity, is utterly devoid of humanity. This title card establishes the tone of the film, which is essentially a nonsensical two hour chase, and introduced filmgoers to a more energetic visual aesthetic in film titles. Bass would further develop the concept of moving text and geometric design the following year in “Psycho,” another Hitchcock project.
As with Vertigo and Psycho, North by Northwest’s title card would not be complete without the brilliant music of Bernard Herrmann, whose music for these sequences is a triumvirate of film music preludes.