Following the conviction of her German father for treason against the U.S., Alicia Huberman takes to drink and men. She is approached by a government agent (T.R. Devlin) who asks her to spy on a group of her father's Nazi friends operating out of Rio de Janeiro. A romance develops between Alicia and Devlin, but she starts to get too involved in her work. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Joseph Cotten was considered for the role of Devlin. See more »
When drunken Alicia is struggling with Devlin in her car at the beginning of the movie. After he causes her to pass out, Ingrid Bergman can be seen sliding over in the car seat to make room for Cary Grant. See more »
Miami, Florida, Three-Twenty P.M., April the Twenty-Fourth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Six...
[reporters and photographers converse amongst themselves outside the courtroom]
Is there any legal reason why sentence should not be pronounced?
No, your honor.
Yes, I have something to say. You can put me away, but you can't put away what's going to happen to you, and to this whole country next time. Next time we are going...
I wouldn't say any more. We'll need that for the ...
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Opening credits prologue: Miami, Florida, Three-Twenty P.M., April the Twenty-Fourth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Six... See more »
A nostalgic revisit for me. Unlike many of our other young posters in our community, I didn't grow up with a strong background in the classics. Notorious was the first Hollywood classic from the studio era that I went out and rented. I had seen several others, but they were either Disney movies, The Wizard of Oz, or forced upon me in my first film class (e.g., Stagecoach, which I despised for years!). Notorious wasn't even my first Hitchcock movie; that was The 39 Steps, which I also didn't care for. But Notorious was suggested to me by a good friend, so I went to the video store, went to the classics section for the first time, and picked it up. It isn't responsible for the path I took afterwards (I would probably give that credit to Citizen Kane), but I remember liking it. This was the summer after my Freshman year in college, in 1998.
It's amazing how much I've learned in the five years since I saw it first. I liked it quite a bit, but it certainly wasn't one of my favorites. This was the summer I discovered the American cinema after the studios collapsed, movies such as The Godfather and 2001, so Notorious seemed a little dated to my uneducated eyes. I remembered a couple of the more showy scenes, like the one where Ingrid Bergman realizes why she's sick. I especially remembered the entire final scene. But I was unprepared for the subtlety.
On this second viewing, I was shocked at just how intimate Hitchcock's direction is in Notorious it's easily one of his very best works as a director. He utilizes close-ups to an almost uncomfortable degree. At first, I thought that Grant's and Bergman's love affair felt kind of forced, but that scene where they make out for two minutes straight pretty much sold it for me! Notorious was first suggested to me as an example of screen eroticism, and I would have been far too unrefined to feel that power five years ago.
I do still have a couple of problems with the film, but they're minor. Well, they're worth mentioning, anyway. I don't really like Cary Grant in the film. He's good, but he's not at the level of the rest of the film. I really think he's best suited for comedy; he has such a gift for comic timing. He has problems shifting between the passion he has for Bergman and the anger he has for what she's doing. I'd love to see what other actors could have done with that (Montgomery Clift comes to mind, for some reason, although he was still a couple of years away). I also feel that Devlin's anger with Alicia (talking strictly about the characters now, not the the actors) is maybe a little exaggerated. I realize that this is 1946, but I might imagine that spies and secret agents would not be so offended at this sort of thing. This is, of course, the main conflict of the film, so I guess I just have to accept it as the premise.
As for the other actors, they are uniformly brilliant. Ingrid Bergman gives one of her best performances. Claude Rains is brilliant as the villain. He's one of those Hitchcock antagonists whom I shouldn't care for, but, for some reason, I really feel sorry for him. He's so pathetic. The sequence where he discovers who his new wife is is quite heartbreaking, really (although I think that the musical score, which is generally excellent, goes overboard on the sting when he discovers the broken wine bottle). Perhaps another thing I hold against Grant and Devlin is that final, cruel moment when he locks the car door on Rains. I know he's a Nazi, but it's hard not to feel sorry for him at that point. I also love, just love, Leopoldine Konstantin's performance as Rains' mother. She is simply frightening. Reinhold Schünzel is also rather intimidating as the scarred Dr. Anderson. I love the suspicious look he gives Rains as Grant leads Bergman down the stairs.
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