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Once in Rio, it takes some time for the couple to be assigned their mission. The trip takes on the character of a honeymoon, and Alicia and Devlin start falling in love. Then their orders do arrive, and Alicia is assigned to infiltrate the house and the bedroom of the Nazi leader, Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains).
This movie delivers a very different kind of suspense from Hitchcock's more famous NORTH BY NORTHWEST. There are no strafing runs by malevolent crop-dusters, no cliff-hanging mountain-climbing scenes, no mad footraces. The suspense here relies all on subtleties that get under your skin and chill you much more than the in-your-face antics of Hitchcock's later piece. The popping of champagne corks signals time running out for two spies in the wine cellar; an impassioned lover seeks to kiss the hand of his lady who has a deadly secret concealed in her palm; a victim of poison sees the shadows of the poisoners merge together on the wall. The final scene is the best of all. Who but Hitchcock could imbue the innocent sentence, "I wish to talk to you," with such chilling power?
This is one of Ingrid Bergman's best performances; Alicia is hardly perfect, but brave and lovely. Hitchcock was far ahead of his time in discarding male chauvinist attitudes that elevated a woman's chastity and "ladylike" attributes over her courage and intelligence. When a superior disparages Alicia for the lack of "character" she has shown by following the orders he himself has given her, Devlin sarcastically lashes out: "She may be risking her life, but when it comes to being a *lady,* she doesn't hold a candle to your wife, sir, sitting in Washington playing bridge with three other ladies of great honor and virtue." Yet Devlin himself is often unsympathetic and harsh in his treatment of Alicia, and the unfairness of that treatment is sharply highlighted in a manner very sympathetic to her.
Not to be overlooked is Rains' magnificent rendition of Alexander Sebastian, a villainous but human and rather weak man who genuinely loves Alicia. I have never seen Rains better except for his immortal portrayal of Cap. Renault in CASABLANCA. Also superb is Leopoldine Konstantin as Sebastian's domineering, scheming mother.
NOTORIOUS is intense and meticulously crafted, and benefits from the best acting in any Hitchcock movie. While NORTH BY NORTHWEST or THE 39 STEPS might be a better introduction to Hitchcock for people used to the slam-bang action of modern cinema, NOTORIOUS is the best I can recommend for those who have already learned to love Hitchcock's work.
`Notorious', despite adhering to the chaste Hayes Code of the time has some of the steamiest scenes between two actors that I can recall during that era. While the scenes never get beyond the standard close-ups of their kisses, the chemistry is a heavy physical presence. The acting in `Notorious' is top-notch; Grant and Bergman were at their best during this era. Claude Rains, who is a personal favorite of mine, is absolutely fabulous in this film. He gives his character, who should be hateful, a humanistic quality that makes him an even more complicated figure. Screenwriter Ben Hecht and Hitchcock team up for some pretty intense moments in `Notorious', and compliment each others styles and talents wonderfully. There are not many nail-biting moments in `Notorious', but the script is excellent. Coupled with the superior acting and direction, `Notorious' is certainly a Hitchcock film that should not be missed.
What gives *Notorious* its singularity amongst the pantheon of Hitchcock's masterpieces is the highly symbolic, literate, and penetrating script by Hecht. Nominally, the film is about the OSS (the pre-natal version of the CIA) using a compromised young daughter of a condemned, unrepentant Nazi to infiltrate a cell of German expatriates in Rio de Janeiro just after the close of the Second World War. The plot hinges on some nonsense involving "uranium ore" stuffed in wine bottles in the cellar of Claude Rains' mansion. In actuality, the film is nothing less than a dark fugue on alcoholism, and secondarily (and of most interest to the director), invasion of privacy. Thirdly, we are treated to some more of the Master's endless fascination with Freudian slop: yet again, we get the Oedipus Complex in all its ardor, with a domineering old bat wielding the motherly whip-hand on Rains' cuckolded, castrated, romantic ex-pat Nazi.
But Hecht is interested primarily in alcoholism, and Hitchcock obligingly complies, utilizing a dizzying myriad of symbols and reference points. In the original script, Bergman's Alicia is something of a whore: the filmmakers were forced by the censors to tone this aspect down, thereby bringing Alicia's dependence on booze to the forefront. Indeed, Bergman spends much of her screen-time woozy-headed, whether from alcohol or poisonous coffee (symbolically functioning as the same thing). Very early in the film, she declares at a party, "The important drinking hasn't started yet!" Exactly. Throughout the movie, Bergman drinks in order to escape her unpleasant circumstances or to wash away bouts of low self-esteem. A bottle of champagne bought by Grant becomes a phallic symbol: he forgets it at the offices of the OSS, with arid results when he arrives home to Bergman. Wine bottles are literally the "key" to the plot. Spilled wine in a sink blows her cover. And late in the proceedings, the simple physical act of drinking -- coffee, yes, but the point comes across -- almost kills her.
There's much more going on here -- too much for a short review, really. Let's finish by asserting that Hitchcock's Forties period was every bit as cinematic as his later, grander, colorized period in the Fifties and Sixties. The slowly swooping shot from the crane, starting from high atop the ceiling of a ballroom and ending up focused on the wine cellar key in Bergman's hand, is merely one famous bravura moment. There are many others:
Grant approaching a hungover Bergman in bed, in which the camera takes her up-ended POV quite literally; Bergman, overcome with poison, hallucinating the figures of Rains and his mother into monstrous shadows that grow larger and larger, eventually merging into one darkness; the two great tracking shots of Grant and Bergman kissing in her Rio apartment and later when Grant rescues her from her poison bed. The trailers for *Notorious* were already calling Hitchcock the "Master of Suspense" . . . it's easy to see why.
As for the performances? Cary Grant proves to be a true soldier, spending much of his screen-time either expressionless or with his back turned to the camera (!), unselfishly giving the film to Bergman, even though his part is actually the more interesting one. Bergman, meanwhile, gives one of the best performances of her illustrious career. No two Bergman roles are quite the same; Hitchcock wisely allows her to do some of her own interpretation, particularly early on during the "character-building" scenes (before the plot moves all the characters into their appointed places on the chessboard). Perhaps best of all, both Grant and Bergman were at the very peak of the physical charms: the movie is some serious eye-candy for both genders. 9 stars out of 10.
When Bergman says "Oh, you love me-you love me" in that wonderful close up I have to think to myself, how much I look forward to becoming a film maker. Why can't Hollywood capture moments like these in today's features?
Note how long the kiss lasts as Bergman and Grant move from the balcony to the living room. The lighting and camera positioning are phenomenal. Do not expect the typical Hitchcock here but then again it is hard to say what a typical Hitchcock is. Each of his films contain so many different elements yet, at the same time possess the true signature of an auteur.
Bergman, Grant, and Rains, along with a superb supporting cast bring to the screen the ultimate stylish spy vs. spy yarn. Suspense is slowly built up, and then released throughout; Devlin and Alicia snooping in the wine cellar as the sommelier realizes they need more wine for the party, Devlin finding Alicia confined to her room, and trying to rouse her so he can get her away from the evil in the house are but two examples of the suspense that build to the climax of the film.
In a day when we get the likes of Catwoman, American Pie II and Meet The Parents, I'll take the boring and outdated Notorious any day of the week. I'm crazy that way.
But for the frank eroticism Hitchcock establishes from the opening party sequence on, and Bergman's breathtakingly uninhibited playing against her "virginal" type.
"Notorious" is riddled with bad, jerky rear-projection sequences. The first is Bergman's drunken drive along the Florida highway before the policeman stops her.
Then, every sequence where she and Cary Grant meet in the park in Rio. Sitting on that bench while the entire world "jerks" behind them.
Do we care? Hell, no.
Ingrid Bergman was never so starkly sensual and frank on screen, as she is as "Alicia." And Cary Grant, as agent Devlin, was perfectly directed to play cold and largely unresponsive to Bergman's unrestrained and ultimately heartbreaking heat.
Grant is given subtle moments early on, to show his falling in love with Bergman. The brief glance he gives her as she leans across his lap in the plane descending into Rio, before Hitchcock quickly fades it out, is almost pornographic (for the era).
Their repartee is so fraught with sexual tension and mutual challenge as to be unparalleled in cinema up till that time -- and perhaps even since.
Bergman, so powerful an actress, is utterly vulnerable and natural in the early sequences -- emerging from her father's trial with her usual Bergmanesque stoicism, only to instantly become surprisingly, drunkenly, girlish and accessible and dangerous in the next sequence -- brushing windblown hair from her lips as she drives -- viciously fighting off Devlin when she realizes Devlin's an agent -- awakening to a hangover so realistic you can almost smell her breath steaming off the screen -- finally agreeing, out of patriotism, to help the "cause." The range of Bergman's performance, from drunken party girl desperate to escape her background, to duplicitous double-agent portraying "Madame" Sebastian in elegant surroundings, to helplessly, hopelessly lovesick Alicia finally in love with an unresponsive American agent (Grant) -- to an imprisoned woman dying of poisoning -- Bergman is simply brilliant.
She was never more sensually presented on screen.
Nor was Cary Grant. One does not expect emotional displays or outbursts from a government agent.
Grant's / Devlin's professional reluctance to admit, much less act on, his feelings for Bergman's Alicia is evident from frame one. His self-control as an actor and as a man was never better realized. At any moment, he could sexually assault Alicia -- whether out of rage or love is never clear, until the final, tender, moments of the film.
By the time Alicia and Devlin reach the infamous two-plus minutes on-off kissing scene in Alicia's Rio apartment, viewers of both sexes are watering at the mouth, wanting them to devour each other.
That they don't adds another layer of suspense to what ultimately becomes almost unbearable tension after Alicia weds Sebastian and moves in with him, his mother, and the other Nazis.
This is an amazingly daring film in terms of female sexuality, for its day or ours. Hitchcock asks us, as he asks Devlin, to sympathize with -- and love -- a woman who not only sleeps around just as men do, but who is willing to sleep around under false pretenses for the good of her adopted country. If that's a stretch for audiences now, consider what it was for audiences in the late 40s.
Is there another "heroine" in cinema history who blatantly sleeps with a man she despises in order to win the love (and successfully) of another man whom she adores?
Not "Mata Hari," who, no matter that she was played by Garbo, had anywhere near the emotional/political/moral complexity of Alicia.
We still have to contend with those cheeseball rear-projection sequences. But Bergman and Grant play them so beautifully that the shoddy rear-screen technological primitivism is immediately forgiven.
And the secondary casting is so flawless that, in "Notorious'" final sequence, as Claude Rains is called back into the mansion and walks up those steps to his inevitable death, and the door closes while Bergman and Grant escape to a new life, our feelings are a mixture of triumph and pity.
Truly, one of Hitchcock's most complex, sexually challenging, political, adult, ambiguous and disturbing films.
Forget the cheeseball rear-projections, please.
"Notorious" is several glasses -- perhaps too many -- of vintage cinematic champagne.
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.
Notorious is a very stylish production. Ingrid Bergman, who usually wore little makeup in her films, has a very natural sensuality and wears lovely 40s hats and suits very elegantly. Cary Grant is hitting his stride as the fashion icon he later became in the 50s. The suits are slimmer than they were in earlier roles and help emphasize Grant's lean and powerful, but graceful, physicality. Hitchcock's camera is characteristically authoritative, shaping the audience's impressions. It is very open to Bergman and very closed to Grant. Bergman is often shot in close ups and medium shots, and in flattering soft focus, and in accessible to the audience. Her heartrending luminosity, used so brilliantly in Casablanca is used again here by Hitchcock. Grant, on the other hand, is several times shot with his back to the camera, looking away from from the camera or with his face obscured by shadows. You suspect, but you never really KNOW what Devlin is feeling for the majority of the film. Grant is inscrutable and here is really demonstrating his economy --and brilliance-- as a performer. Sometimes he does seem a bit too stiff, especially since we know that he's capable of doing Dr. David Huxley and Editor-in-chief Walter Burns, but most actors wouldn't have dared to give such an understated performance as Grant does here.
The world of Notorious is very insular. Most of the film, with the exception of the love scenes, is indoors. Any other scenes that find the characters outdoors find the characters closed off. Barricaded between objects or people. All this gives the film a claustrophobic feel, like Devlin and Alicia have no place to hide and no place to breathe. People said that Hitchcock disliked actors. I don't think that's true, but Hitchcock seems to have extraordinary control over the technical aspects of filming. In order scenes to work actors must explicitly follow direction; they are the tools of film-making. All this attention to detail is absolutely necessary considering the complex composition of many of his scenes. The reputed "Longest kiss in film history" where Devlin and Alicia embrace and talk and kiss for several is a very intricate piece of blocking as the characters move from one room to another, Devlin speaks on the phone, reach, turn etc... If Hitchcock worked like someone like Howard Hawks, for instance, this sort of scene wouldn't be possible.
Since this is a Hitchcock film, people may be mislead into thinking that it's a thriller. It's not. It's really a perverse romance. The characters are more intricately drawn than they are in thrillers. Indeed, plot and character development seem to be equally important. The story does not move quickly but you don't really notice, you're too busy being immersed in Hitchcock's world. Thrilling, sexy, and moving, Notorious is highly recommended
Hitchcock didn't suffer the opinions of his actors lightly, yet
where Notorious was concerned, he made an exception. For the duration of the shooting of the film, Bergman was Hitchcock's closest collaborator. I have a strong sense that the very thing that could have made Notorious lame - Hitchcock's unrequited love for Bergman - is also the very thing that saved it from obscurity and that we may have much - we will never how much - for which to thank Bergman.
There are many moments that make Notorious Bergman's picture, but I think the most extraordinary is the kiss outside the wine cellar. In all her films, Bergman always brought a vulnerability to her love scenes that imbued them with a real sense of intimacy, and Notorious is no exception: think of her in the infamous balcony scene or during her final descent down the staircase. Yet when Dev - ever the mercenary genius of improvisation - makes full use of Rains' approach and, pulling Alicia to him as they stand outside the wine cellar, orders her to kiss him, Bergman actually surpasses her own track record.
Suddenly in the arms of the man she really loves she is overcome with emotion; and for one second, maybe two, she separates her mouth from his, and in an attempt to give voice to the indescribable and to forge, experience and register a moment of pure intimacy, she utters one word, his name, 'Dev!' and all hell breaks loose. Never in the history of cinema has one word carried such an erotic charge. They could not be closer. He doesn't flinch. They barely move, but it is all there. And it's not just her voice, it is also her eyebrows. Just as she utters his name, Bergman furrows them. They tremble. They, along with her tremulous whisper, betray her true feelings, so that within the space of two seconds we witness Bergman experience both the heightened rush of intense sexual desire as well as the instantaneous relief afforded her by the act of surrender to it.
All this with one word - 'Dev' - and the furrowing of a pair of eyebrows. So much emotion conveyed with so little and in such a brief period of time.
It is because of moments like these that Notorious is timeless - the film gets under your skin and into your psyche - and given the history of the film and her beautiful performance at the center of it, it is fitting that it should be Bergman
The plot, if you take the time to think about it, is amazing. Also, it's pretty risqué--everything about it. Bergman is absolutely superb--as is Cary Grant. Ingrid Bergman should have won an Oscar for her performance. Every line is classic and I've ended up seeing the movie three or five times. However, if you're up for a thrilling movie at home w/friends or at a party, this wouldn't be the one. I wouldn't say this is the type of movie for a romantic date either...it's in its own category where you just have to watch it with true classic film fans.
The screenplay is by Ben Hecht, a writer who fully understood Hitch's aims – the two are very much in synch with the structure, pacing and presenting of the material. The first twenty minutes are incredibly fast paced, full of jump cuts and thirty-second scenes. We waste no time in establishing the romantic link between Grant and Bergman. The political background is briefly stated, but not dwelled upon, and to this end Hitchcock shoots the court scene in a distant point-of-view shot from outside the room, before sweeping the camera into the Bergman's attention-grabbing entrance. This is not a film about motives – it's a film about consequences.
After this, once Bergman is assigned to her spying mission and the "game" as it were begins, there is a shift in pace. From now on Hecht and Hitchcock's aim is to place us inside the experiences of our two leads – with a slightly different angle for each. With Grant, the focus is upon his pain and bitterness at having to give up Bergman to Claude Rains. So, when Bergman and Rains first meet in the horse-riding scene, we do not see what dialogue passes between them – instead we are shown Grant's point of view, and his distressed reaction.
With Bergman however the focus is upon her fear and vulnerability as she carries out her work. As opposed to the snappiness of the opening, many of Bergman's scenes unfold in excruciating real-time. Hitchcock's camera technique emphasises the sense of danger, making the nazi stooges appear more menacing by having them fill the frame. Another very effective trick used in the party sequence is to cut between close-ups of Bergman to point-of-view shots that show off the vastness of the rooms, which make us feel her disconcertedness.
The slow and deliberate pace of the main part of Notorious also allows for the effective staging of several suspense set-pieces. The simplest of scenes, the simplest of acts are drawn out to breaking point, cut up into numerous shots and carefully timed to turn them into heart-thumpers. The ultimate example of this is of course the final scene. You can also see when looking at scenes like the business with the key or the wine bottle why Hitchcock disliked last-minute twists – the suspense wouldn't work if the audience weren't aware of the actions and knowledge of all the characters.
We have here one of the most stellar casts Hitchcock had ever bagged, with both Grant and Bergman at the height of their popularity. Both are in quite demanding parts, as characters who have to stifle their emotions and play a role within the role. Unfortunately Hitchcock was no master when it came to motivating his cast, and while the leads are good they are not outstanding. Claude Rains too has a complex part, as a man who has to come to terms with his own gargantuan mistake, and it was his steady, deep performance that got the Oscar nomination.
In the end though, it is Hitchcock's utter devotion to suspense over substance that is the Achilles heel of Notorious. The purely functional screenplay is lacking in humour and sparkling dialogue, the romance lacks chemistry and the characters lack motivation. It is undoubtedly one of his most carefully crafted thrillers, but it is ultimately a slightly hollow experience.
You can see that this movie would have been useful in establishing Hitchcock, but that moment is quite over. He surpassed it (technically and artistically) quickly after with his own work. It's value is only in context. It's not good Hitchcock by my standard. It has one daring idea for the time; that a tramp may show greater nobility and heroism than the off-screen prim and proper 1950's housewife that is mentioned; and one interesting performance; a German mother more threatening than the harmless, effete villain.
Unfortunately Hitch is more interested in the technical aspects of Notorious, and then only in places, making it a weird, lopsided production. It's chilly, and many scenes are crappy genre clichés. It's technically "on" but emotionally off. I never feel a thing watching this. It's an academic exercise.
If the apparent level of a movie is so disappointing, why would a viewer be interested in learning more about its symbolic or semiotic level? Which, by the way none of these reviews even touch.
TECHNIQUE: All the major scenes are showy but hollow.
The classic camera shot zooming in from an overhead full-room shot to Alicia's hand holding a key embodies the problems here. It's pointless. The plot has set up the moment. We've SEEN her steal the key, and we know she's handing it off to Devlin at the party. The shot is vapid because it adds nothing but conspicuous technique to the moment. The shot is pivotal but it changes nothing. After it we know exactly what we knew before; that's not mature Hitchcock. What does it mean when he makes such a laborious, self-conscious shot, but the rest of the movie is so hideously fake? The rear-screen projections are fatal here: whether it's a park bench, a courthouse, a café, or all of Rio, the movie is about one yard deep. I can't believe people love a movie with such phony methods of getting imagery into a camera.
Worst of all is the convention of the actors betraying necessarily clandestine reactions on their faces for the benefit of the audience; looks that would give them away over and over again. The acting here is all about making faces. Forget body language or something subtler.
Cary Grant plays a petulant, vindictive ass. It's a miracle we won the war with unprofessional jackasses like this working for us. After one drunk date he's a snotty lover? I have now seen all the Grant/Hitchcock movies (after seeing Suspicion yesterday) and I dislike each one for different reasons.
HOLES: Over and over again Hitchcock chooses the dumb & cinematic over internal logic or common sense. It's as if he assumes the audience left their brains at home.
Why such tension developed over handing off the key to Devlin upstairs at the party, when Alicia arranges to be at the wine cellar door WITH HIM when he opens it? This is the films major setpiece and it makes absolutely no sense.
Why is neither Devlin or Alicia concerned with devising a way to get the key back on Sebastians ring? Because Hitch needs that tension-building wine cellar sequence more than he cares to fit it convincingly into a romance or a spy plot. Why can't Devlin piece her fate together, after say ten seconds of thought, where he realizes neither he nor she gave a damn about being detected after the fact? Because he's the worst agent ever scripted in a Hollywood movie. This isn't rocket science.
Devlin and Alicia meet 4 or 5 times in public to hand information off. They meet at a racetrack, or on a park bench talking out the sides of their mouths, so as to avoid discovery. But what would anyone need to 'discover' about their conversation if they were seen together? Just being seen together would betray them. Sebastian knows Devlin is an agent from the start and has figured out that the two are in love. What's the point of sitting an extra foot apart on a bench pretending to have idle chatter? Two people in their situation would never choose to meet in public.
When I read fawning reviews of this movie, it makes me sorry Hitchcock used such constant motifs across his career; because shallow fans can watch engaging nothing but a checklist of elements: *the directors appearance, *a technical trick, *a stairway, *a camera gimmick, *a domineering mother, *a character falling to their death, *an icy blonde, etc. They can't wait to declare it a masterpiece and congratulate themselves. But they couldn't tell you why this is important or discuss it's ideas for ten seconds because they lack any criteria that would tell them when those elements construct a shallow movie. In Hitchcock's great movies that checklist is supported by convincing psychology, a bit of humor and satisfying depth that yields layers of meaning. Not so here.
Cast-wise, it's difficult to imagine not liking a film with Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains and Louis Calhern....but this story is just agonizing in its slowness and incredibly stupid in its romance angle. It's hard to picture a better-looking couple than Grant and Bergman in the mid '40s but they can't overcome this tedious script and they don't quite cut it as believable spies. The "suspense" is nonexistent, too, and the plot is preposterous.
Just because it's "Hitch" directing, it doesn't mean it's automatically good, especially in the 1940s.
Devlin didn't really look comfortable in his character. There were hardly any difference in his expressions, most of the time he just looked to hate his character.
Sebastein was shown too weak in the movie. For someone who is rich and been in the field for long enough don't get so easily fooled and frightened.
And the key part really looked funny. What do they expect by stealing the key from the man. If i had been keeping keys in my pocket for long, the moment i touch my keys i would feel the difference between having 3 or 4 keys. What do they expect sebastein would do, when he finds that the key is missing(when he tries to open the cellar door) and suddenly the next morning the key is in the keychain again. Even a school kid would figure out what is going on. And the scene where Emil points out at the wine bottle.... what can we say
1) Ingrid Bergman has never looked more beautiful. Perhaps no actress has ever looked as beautiful, alluring, vulnerable and sad as Bergman in this film. From her bare midriff in the opening scenes to her marvelous riding outfit when she meets Sebastian I cannot take my eyes off her.
2)Notorious has one of the most adult scripts in the history of the movies. I'm not talking about plot -- but just *listen* to the dialog! Devlin and Alicia don't just spar or joust -- they verbally rip at each other with a venom that only wild passion can explain. If you listen to all the dialog it can be quite uncomfortable -- there is no lighthearted banter between them. It's open sexual warfare -- "right below the belt every time" as Alicia so accurately observes. The dialog is about sex in language so bald that I can hardly believe it survived the censors. And not a dainty, pretty sex, but raw, intense, wounding, needful, adult sexuality that almost never gets explored in mainstream movies. That Hitchcock did it in 1946 is nothing short of astonishing. Ben Hecht gave Notorious one of the great screenplays in the movies -- perhaps only Chinatown can compare to it.
3) Cary Grant & Claude Rains. I love their competition for Alicia and the way that Hitchcock and Hecht have inverted their roles. As Devlin, Grant is cruel, cold and repressed in his dealings with Alicia. He is her lover but he can hardly reconcile his love for Alicia with his fear of losing her or with his own self-loathing. Sebastian, as played by Rains is a perfect gentleman. We never doubt that Sebastian, the Nazi, deeply and truly loves Alicia. He is tender and caring with her in ways that we can't really imagine Devlin ever being. Their love triangle is endlessly fascinating to watch.
4)Perfect form. Hitchcock was a master stylist and he was at the top of his game in Notorious. The movie is like a elegant, formal dance. To complain about realism in a movie like this is totally beside the point. It's all artifice and all art. No scenes wasted, no scenes that are designed to shock. Everything locks together in perfect symmetry.
I have sat through Notorious with many people who simply don't get it. I feel sorry for them. This is one of great experiences that the movies can offer.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and this has many of his cinematic traits. The innocuous start, the slow-burning intrigue, the ramping up of the suspense and the thrilling conclusion, all executed with the deft Hitchcock touch. Great twist at one point, just when the plot was looking predictable.
Not perfect though. The start and the initial scenes involving Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman feel a bit clumsy. The whole romantic side feels overly sappy and forced and seems to have too much weight in the script. This is made up for by an espionage plot that gets better as it goes on.
Not in the same league as Hitchcock's best - Rebecca, Rear Window and Psycho - but still very good nevertheless.
Bergman, and her gripping performance as a sad, confused, and war-torn soul looking for love is simply stunning. I have to admit, as great of a star as Ms. Bergman is, before Notorious, I had never seen her in a film before. I was blown away by Notorious. If Ms. Bergman's performance in this film does not suck you into this film, maybe Cary Grant's will. What can I say? Mr. Grant is, in my opinion, one of the greatest actors of film's history. His work in Hitchcock's Notorious is no exception. As great as Ms. Bergman and Mr. Grant are, we cannot forget, shall we say, the real star of this perfect film? Alfred Hitchock. Mr. Hitchcock and his camera are superb. The way he uses the lens to capture images that tell the story is an inspiration to every director as the way to use the visual medium of film. But his amazing direction does not stop with the camera. You can see his masterful work in every aspect of the film, through his actors, through the story, through the writing and dialog, and through his trademark suspense.
What more can I say? If the combination of Bergman, Grant, and Hitchcock doesn't stir you enough to want to go and rent this movie as fast as you possibly can, then I don't know what to say! See it and be transfixed, thrilled, and amazed by the perfect film.
This classic from director Alfred Hitchcock is a fine mix of romance and thrills. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman have a great chemistry as Devlin and Alicia; it is easy to believe their characters really are in love. Claude Rains also impresses as Alex Sebastian; rather than the stereotypical 'evil Nazi' he is a largely sympathetic character which makes him more plausible. Both the romance and the thriller elements work very well; things get particularly tense as the film approached its finale. There is no real violence on screen but the threat is definitely real; there is a sense of helplessness when Alicia is exposed. Overall this is definitely worth watching if you enjoy classic cinema.
Reading the negative reviews for this subtle exercise in manipulative psychology is positively hilarious. No guns ? No shoot-outs ? No devilish gadgets ? Just talk ? These complaints indicate just how far we've entered into the mindless robotic age. Thought is abolished, in favour of mechanism. The triumph of the machines is not far off. Sigmund Freud has had it. I was only going to give this film 8 stars, but I'll have to add one, to counter the cretins. Very well-acted and skilfully directed throughout.