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DAUGHTER SUZ AND I recently enjoyed Alfred Hitchcock’s famed North by Northwest, everything from this director’s cameo missing a bus in its opening moments, to the oft-cited line “We laugh in the car,” to Cary Grant’s pursuit by the crop duster, to Grant and Eva Marie Saint’s penultimate action on Mount Rushmore, and their final bit in the railway sleeper as the train enters a tunnel.
Tidbits galore, and even more gleaned from some Internet sleuthing.
Rushmore’s Secret Room. As described in The New York Post, February 8, 2017, “Abraham Lincoln holds the history of our country’s past. Literally.”
The New York Post explained, “Tucked inside Lincoln’s frontal lobe in Mount Rushmore in Keystone, South Dakota is a secret, inaccessible-to-the-public chamber. The vault was designed by the monument’s sculptor, Gutzon Borglum, who envisioned it as a room dedicated to the history of the United States.”
The Post says, “… Borglum wanted a written history of America’s greatest historical hits to go along with his four-headed sculpture, including an 800-foot stairway with a large bronze eagle— who’d have a 38-foot wingspan—at the entrance. Above the eagle an inscription would read, ‘America’s Onward March’ and ‘The Hall of Records.’ Carved into the walls would read America’s nine most important events from 1776 to 1906. Busts of famous Americans would line the hall, as well as a list of US contributions to art, science and industry. Unfortunately, Borglum died in 1941 and never saw his vision come to life.”
Indeed, the Hall of Records was scrapped in 1939 when Congress demanded that federal funding be specifically for faces. What’s more, two years earlier Congress had already nixed a plan to add women’s rights leader Susan B. Anthony to the Rushmore design.
Fast Forward. “But in 1998,” the Post noted, “monument officials revived Borglum’s dream of the room acting as a vault for America’s history. Today, sculpted into a series of porcelain enamel panels, is the story and history of Mount Rushmore, along with an explanation of why Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln were chosen.”
The Post continued, “There are also panels sculpted with the words to the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, and park officials even included a biography of artist Borglum. They’re all kept safe inside a titanium repository behind a giant, 1,200-pound granite slab.”
And safe the entombed Hall of Records is, even from tourists.
Other Nuggets. Dylan Mancy includes the secret room in his “75 Surprising Facts About Mount Rushmore,” at travelsouthdakota.com. Other nuggets include the award-winning Rushmore amateur baseball team. “Because Gutzon and [son] Lincoln Borglum were so competitive,” Mancy writes, “they would often hire young men for their baseball skills rather than their carving and drilling skills.”
North by Northwest Nuggets. According to Wikipedia, “The scene of Cary Grant going to the United Nations in New York was filmed illicitly because, after reviewing the script, UN authorities denied permission to film on or near its property. After two failed attempts to get the required shots, Hitchcock had Grant pull up in a taxicab right outside the General Assembly Building while a hidden camera crew filmed him exiting the vehicle and walking across the plaza.”
Also, the crop duster scene (with a Naval Aircraft Factory N3N Canary) was actually filmed in Wasco, California, in the San Joaquin Valley. Hitchcock added square signs to replicate the signage found in Indiana.
In the art auction scene where baddy James Mason buys a Mexican sculpture (later to hold microfilm), the auctioneer is portrayed by Les Tremayne. He appeared as radio sleuth Nick Charles in “Barnstorming–Though Not in the Air,” here at SimanaitisSays.
And (trivia time) who else recalls Leo G. Carroll in other Hitchcock flicks as well as also inheriting a Grant role involving a ghostly couple? ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021
Leo G. Carroll, aka Cosmo Topper.