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The daughter of a traitor is coerced by a handsome governemnt agent into renewing an old friendship with a suspected nazi sympathizer in south america during wwii. Studio: Tcfhe/mgm Release Date: 02/10/2009 Starring: Cary Grant Claude Rains Run time: 130 minutes Director: Alfred Hitchcock
One of Alfred Hitchcock's classics, this romantic thriller features a cast to kill for: Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, and Claude Rains. Bergman plays the daughter of a disgraced father who is recruited by American agents to infiltrate a post-World War II spy ring in Brazil. Her control agent is Grant, who treats her with disdain while developing a deep romantic bond with her. Her assignment: to marry the suspected head of the ring (Rains) and get the goods on everyone involved. Danger, deceit, betrayal--and, yes, romance--all come together in a nearly perfect blend as the film builds to a terrific (and surprising) climax. Grant and Bergman rarely have been better. --Marshall Fine
- Essential Hitchcock
Apart from being one of Alfred Hitchcock's genuine masterworks, "Notorious" (1946) represents Cary Grant's strongest dramatic performance. His portrayal of counterspy Devlin remains so emotionally cold and dark that it leaves no room for his traditional humor. Ben Hecht's detailed screenplay depicts Hitchcock's cruelest romance. Devlin emerges as an unsympathetic sadist who seduces and manipulates Alicia (Ingrid Bergman), an alcoholic nymphomaniac, into helping the U.S. Government obtain secrets by marrying the Nazi spy Sebastian (Claude Rains), who actually loves her more than Devlin does. With the inspired casting of Bergman and Rains, the love triangle in "Notorious" is similar to "Casablanca." However, in Hitchcock's world, there is no stirring display of patriotism or sentimentality. Furthermore, Hitchcock was the only filmmaker to strip Grant of his protective charm - and never again would the actor venture into such uncertain, disturbing territory....more info
- Love and Intrigue
Released in August of '46--well over a year after V-E Day and just about a year after V-J Day--Alfred Hitchcock's NOTORIOUS was actually in development at a time when the war's outcome was at least still somewhat uncertain. Ben Hecht's initial script was reportedly written in 1944, for example. The film's central storyline--involving active Post-War Nazi plotting in Brazil--was likely a alteration of a war-time scenario, and references to nuclear plotting would have seemed pretty prescient--or pretty far out: hard to say which.
Whatever the specifics, it's certainly an intriguing question to consider just how historical developments might have forced alterations to the film's script. Equally interesting is the question of audience reception: the movie was successful, by all accounts, and it can be assumed that appeals to American patriotism and anti-Nazism would still be quite powerful in the immediate Post-War era. In fact, at a time when the full extent of Nazi criminality had only just recently come to light, fears of diabolical plots by surviving members might have lent the film even more resonance (especially, given the film's well-timed nuclear "McGuffin": the age of nuclear anxiety was now upon us and found real expression in the Hitchcock film).
That being said, we'd still have to agree with Hitchcock himself when he maintained that the film was still mainly a love story. And as such, one could scarcely have asked for better romantic leads than Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Re-watching the film recently, I began to appreciate just how good (AND how charismatic) they were. Grant has always been underrated as an actor. His T.R. Devlin is as cool and ironic as any secret agent character in film history. But he is also believable when he finally confesses his love for Ingrid Bergman's character.
And Bergman is just luminous in this film. Her role in the film is perhaps one of her most demanding: Alicia Huberman, the daughter of a convicted WWII traitor, is vulnerable, intelligent, romantic and cynical. She's as "notorious" for her own wild behavior, we're given to understand, as she is for being the daughter of a Nazi spy. Of course, her psychological make-up and her personal and family history are all one of a piece. The audience is made to understand early on that her rush toward hedonism was a direct reaction to her father's betrayal of his country and--ultimately--of her. She is a "good girl" at heart, one awaiting redemption at the hands of a heroic male. It played well in '46: it plays just as well today, if we dare admit it.
The supporting cast is also excellent. Claude Rains brings a level of intelligence and, yes, humanity to his Nazi character Alex Sebastian that makes him something of a sympathetic character. He is a coward and a Mama's boy, but Rains' subtle performance makes Sebastian's weaknesses and character flaws understandable. It is in fact Mama who's the real dyed-in-the-wool Nazi. A friend I saw the film with dubbed her "Frau Hitler," and indeed there has never been a more sinister mother figure in cinematic history. Not even elsewhere in Hitchcock's oeuvre, I'd venture.
NOTORIOUS is great entertainment: skillfully written and directed, beautifully photographed and extrememly well acted. And Hitchcock's modesty notwithstanding, it is not devoid of ideas. Sure it's a love story, but it places its lovers in the context of history and reminds us all that those forces can dictate and sometimes overwhelm our own life circumstances. By the film's end, it looks as though Alicia and Devlin just may be among those who escape the caprices of history. At least for a time.
- Bergman as the "notorious" Alicia Huberman, "not a lady."
Filmed in 1946, just after World War II, this was a truly sensational film upon its release, its a dramatic impact far stronger than what we experience now. Newspapers were publicizing the fact that major Nazi leaders had escaped to Brazil and other South American countries, and America's use of the atomic bomb in Japan had made every American aware of the importance of uranium, also a plot element here. The work of spies was respected and considered crucial for America's safety.
In this Hitchcock-directed film, Ingrid Bergman plays Alicia Huberman, daughter of a Nazi spy convicted of treason. A young woman who has always played fast and loose, she is nevertheless recruited to go to Brazil to infiltrate her father's Nazi network there, with Devlin (Cary Grant) as her agency contact. They fall in love as they await orders in Rio, but the stiff and formal Grant cannot bring himself to tell this "notorious" woman ("not a lady") that he loves her. When she realizes that she will get much better information if she marries Nazi Alex Sebastian (Claude Rains), Grant allows her to do this, meeting her periodically for agonizing updates. As Alicia uncovers increasingly important information related to the Nazi search for uranium, her own life is threatened.
Hitchcock's camera work is extraordinary, with high-contrast scenes achieving maximum dramatic impact in black and white. He often places objects and people in the extreme foreground with the camera focused on the background, and he uses changes of lighting to emphasize changing moods or realizations by characters. The suspense builds to a crescendo, and when Grant and Bergman manage to get inside a locked wine cellar while Rains is approaching, the tension nears the breaking point.
Part of the suspense is psychological. Alicia's life is nightmarish, as she shares a bedroom with someone she both fears and detests, while she herself is feared and detested by her husband's manipulative mother (Leopoldine Konstantin), who calmly sits and embroiders throughout much of the film. Playing a fey, flighty, and "fallen" woman, Bergman is spontaneous, vibrantly alive, and expressive of every emotion, a marked contrast to the staid Grant, who plays the elegant and formal role for which he is justifiably famous. Rains, playing a Nazi, manages to evoke a certain sympathy because he is so vulnerable to Bergman and so dependent on his mother. One of Hitchcock's best films, this study of a "notorious" woman belongs to Bergman, who dominates the film and brings it to life. Mary Whipple
Great Hitchcock film! Grant and Bergman are terrific in the film. Claude Rains outshines both as the creepy momma's boy. Highly recommend!...more info
I love this movie! The acting and plot are fabulous. With Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman how can you go wrong....more info
- Great Hitchcock classic, fine DVD transfer
Notorious was the second credited collaboration with Ben Hecht (Hecht also worked uncredited on Foreign Correspondent and is rumoured to have had a hand in rewrites for Lifeboat as well). For this film Hitch snagged the two actors he wanted the first time around; Grant and Berman were the first and only choices for their roles. Hitch also had the advantage of working with cinematographer Gregg Toland and Ted Tetzlaff (he shot the location footage with the second unit crew in Rio), composer Roy Webb. All his collaborators produced top notch work making this one of Hitch's undisputed classics (along with Shadow of a Doubt)from the 40's.
Grant plays a Devlin a US secret agent spying on a ring of Nazis in Rio. He recruits Alicia (Ingrid Bergman)the daughter of a man who was affiliated with the Nazis. Her world has crumbled due to the accusations against her father and she has descended into alcholism and despair. Devlin offers her a way out; she can work for him romancing (and marrying) the head of the Rio Nazi ring Alex (Claude Rains). Unfortunately, Alex and his mother find out what Alicia is up to and she is in great danger. Devlin realizes that he's in love with Alicia and he has to save her despite his earlier misgivings about her morality and worth.
The symposis doesn't begin to do justice to one of Hitch's best films of the 40's. Everything about Notorious from the long, slow zoom where he see that Alicia has the key to the wine cellar (where Alex is hiding his big secret)to stunning conclusion is perfect.
The DVD transfer is very good and unlike some of the soft looking previous editions of the film, the picture is very sharp. It was mastered from a restored 35 milimeter camera negative, a 35 milimeter nitrate fine grain master and a 35 mm nitrate copyright print. Some of the film analog artifacts were corrected using the MTI Digital Restoration system. There are still some minor compression and analog artifacts but, on the whole, this is a very good restoration effort.
The extras include the Lux Radio Theatre adaption which starred Joseph Cotton and Ingrid Bergman, promo posters and lobby cards, correspondence on the making of the film, trailers and teasers, excerpts from the short story "The Song of The Dragon" the source for Hecht's screenplay, isolated music and effects track and script excerpts of deleted scenes and alternate endings that Hitchcock and Hecht were considering....more info
- One of the Master's best
This could be Hitchcock's greatest film, but he made so many great ones that it's hard to separate the top five or so. It probably hasn't received the acclaim it deserves, because it was filmed in non-widescreen black and white. But the cinematographic techniques, especially involving shadowing, are excellent. Awesome casting and great performances, especially by Claude Rains, who is one of the most prolific supporting actors of all time (see Casablanca, for example). But the real treat is the wonderful mixture of intrigue and romance, which was Hitchcock's trademark. He once said that he didn't make murder mysteries, but rather love stories. This is a classic example. If you think you know Hitchcock, but haven't seen this film, you're in for a fantastic experience. And the final scene is unforgettable....more info
- This film is an artistic monument !
Hitchock threw his glow to the immortality with this fine , elegant and aristocratic film where the suspense element is not the mean starring but the admirable way in which it is told .
The camera in the sequence in we see Bergman trying to hide the keys is simply marvelous .
Since the script turns around political events when a governemet agent and a refugee girl undertake a dangerous mission in Brazil , the puzzle is just for start and Hitchcock will build an interconected plot with unbeatable maestry, with that unforgettable casting .
Claude Rains to me , makes a role even better than in Casablanca , this acting is much more demanding and exigent . Ingrid Bergman splendid as always and Cary Grant may be well has given the best role of his career .
Many Hitchcock hard fans consider this one as the best work of the british director . I do not agree but this one is his best artistic issue told in a very european style . ...more info
- Bergman and Hitchcock at their Peaks!
"Notorious" is a first rate suspense film. It showcases a great director, Alfred Hitchcock, and a great actress, Ingrid Bergman at their peaks. The male leads, Cary Grant and Claude Rains are both excellent but are far outshone by Bergman. It was filmed in tense, post WW2 1946. The plot thickener concerns Nazis in South America. Hitchcock set the action in "beautiful" Rio de Janeiro but mysteriously and no doubt deliberately, shot in black and white. That rendered the Rio "atmosphere" moot and forced the viewer to focus on the plot. "Notorious" is difficult indeed to review without divulging the ending: Grant recruits a reluctant Bergman to be an American agent. His attitude toward Bergman shifts from love to manipulation to helpfulness to sarcasm to the cool, callous, detached agent to agent "professionalism". Whether he really loved her is left unresolved. The main bad guy is none other than Rains. This is no "Casablanca" remake. Bergman takes her assignment so seriously that she actually marries (!) Rains in a May/December arrangement. Quickly, Claude smells a fairly obvious rat - Grant does not "cover" himself well at all! That is the film's one and only weak link. Just as quickly Bergman is deep in hot water. The ending concerns Grant's icy rescue attempt right in Rains' mansion with his Nazi cohorts watching! This scene is well done and step by step realistic! Grant has one slight "advantage", which he fully and calmly exploits. There is no "James Bond" happy final scene with two happy lovers in sunny embrace. Neither is there an elegant "To Catch a Thief" fadeout. "Notorious" ends out with an abrupt, no nonsense, take no prisoners, slamming of the door. Does Bergman live happily ever after? Hitchcock doesn't tell. The actress shows her full range here, this is not the loving supportive wife of "Casablanca", earnest doctor of "Spellbound" or the harried wife of "Gaslight". This is a tougher, more manipulative Bergman who shines through. That Rains and not she received Oscar nominations is a mystery that should deter no one from appreciating this classic....more info
- Flawless Hitchcock
It is often rumored that Hitchcock's favorite among his films was "Shadow of a Doubt" but for this reviewer, the 1946 "Notorious" heads that list. Equal parts suspense/film noir and high-octane romance, with a superb cast of Golden Age stars, an expert script by Ben Hecht, and a brooding black and white production by David O. Zelznick, "Notorious" is simply flawless, with scenes ensconced in Hollywood's Hall of Legend.
Ingrid Bergman is Alicia Huberman, daughter of an unrepentant Nazi spy caught and convicted just after World War II. Alicia hates her father's beliefs but is nevertheless tainted by them. After his conviction, her father commits suicide in his jail cell - left adrift, the embittered Alicia embarks on a life of hard partying and even harder drinking. But before too long, Alica receives a visit from Agent Devlin (Cary Grant) with a proposition from the US intelligence community (presumably the FBI, although they are never named as such): they want her help in penetrating her father's circle of ex-Nazis, whose other members escaped to Rio de Janeiro, where they are working on a project that they believe will reignite and support their old cause. A group of intelligence agents, headed by Captain Paul Prescott (Louis Calherne) believe that Alicia's credentials as the daughter of a loyal-to-the-death Nazi will gain her entry to this circle, not least because they know that one of its leaders, Alex Sebastian (Claude Rains), was once desperately in love with her.
After some resistance, Alicia agrees to help the agents, although she is not yet aware that they intend her to seduce Alex. She and Devlin fly to Rio where Alicia is given an apartment, elegant clothes, jewels, and some basic espionage preparation, as she waits for her assignment to begin. As they wait, Alicia and Devlin fall deeply in love, and Devlin, who knows what his colleagues hope will occur, is faced with two unhappy options: betray his newfound love by allowing her to go forward with this unsavory assignment, or betray his duty by persuading her to drop it. Devlin opts to stand by his duty to his country - when the call comes, he hides his unhappiness and stolidly places Alicia in Alex's path.
As hoped, Alex is enraptured at encountering Alicia again, and Alicia is invited to a dinner at Alex's beautiful mansion, where she immediately meets and is welcomed by the men her father worked with - as well as Alex's formidable and extremely possessive mother (Leopoldine Konstantin). Alicia has made a promising beginning on her assignment. At regular intervals, as she and Alex begin to see each other, she reports to Devlin, sometimes in public places such as the race track, where the middle-aged Alex jealously takes note of the tall, dark handsome stranger. Alicia introduces Devlin as a former admirer in whom she is not interested.
However, the plot succeeds too well: within a short time Alex asks Alicia to marry him. She reports to Prescott, to ask what she should do. And in this scene, the film points up the moral hypocrisy of the American agents - the "good guys". While they do not go so far as to insist that Alicia marry Alex, neither do they try to dissuade her, knowing full well that should she go through with the marriage, she will naturally be expected to engage in sexual relations with Alex (although this is never addressed directly). It is clear that the agents believe that since Alicia has a somewhat disreputable (i.e., sexually experienced) past, her feelings here do not matter, although they would never dream of allowing women from their own families to do such a thing. When Alicia realizes this, and realizes that even Devlin will not dissuade her from such a step, she is shattered, and in her bitterness no longer cares what happens to her, and she agrees to marry Alex.
When Alex and Alicia return from a brief honeymoon, they settle into domestic life, and the overjoyed Alex showers his bride with jewels, clothes, and affection. His happiness is not shared by his mother, Mme. Sebastian, furious at being supplanted by a beautiful young daughter-in-law. Alex throws a large party to introduce his new wife to their social set (most of whom know nothing of his clandestine activities). Devlin asks for an invitation to the party so that he can inspect the wine cellar, where Alicia suspects some clue to the mysterious project lies. She manages to obtain the cellar key from Alex and to slip it to Devlin after he arrives at the party.
But Devlin's investigation of the cellar proves disastrous - he breaks a bottle that contains, not wine, but a strange mineral ore, which he hastily pushes under the racks just as he is interrupted by Alex coming down for more wine. Devlin tries to cover by pulling Alicia into his arms. He apologizes profusely and tells Alex that he has never gotten over Alicia, and that she has just resisted his advances. But Alex's suspicions now extend beyond infidelity, and he inspects the cellar himself, finds the broken bottle of mineral ore, and realizes immediately that his wife and Devlin are working together, and who they must be working for.
When Alex returns to the party he makes no sign to Alicia that he has guessed her role, but when the party is over, in the middle of the night, he slips into his mother's bedroom and sits by her bed. In probably the film's most famous scene, when his mother awakens and asks what is wrong, Alex replies, "Mother, I'm married to an American agent." Mme. Sebastian urges Alex to let her handle the situation, and not to let any of their conspirators find out what Alicia is, or they will also kill Alex and his mother.
Mme. Sebastian begins to poison Alicia via her morning coffee, a little at a time. Her plan is to make it seem as if Alicia has some illness from which she slowly dies. Alicia begins to sicken, developing headaches and light sensitivity, becoming lethargic and pale. The also-bitter Devlin believes at first that she is drinking again. One morning, however, through a chance remark that the Sebastians let slip, Alicia realizes what is happening to her. But she is now so weak that she cannot even flee the house, and the Sebastians put her to bed in an upstairs room with no telephone and locked windows. Alicia, for the first time, misses a reporting assignation with Devlin, something she has never done before; her sudden silence convinces him that Alicia was not hung over, but ill, and, alarmed, he goes to the Sebastian's home to find out what has become of her.
The final scenes of the film, as Devlin finds Alicia near death in her prison bedroom and confronts the Sebastians, are some of the most memorable in Hollywood history. They really DON'T make them like this any longer.
A milkily beautiful Ingrid Bergman is sublime as Alicia, by turns angry and tender. Grant, dark, brooding, and self-controlled, is a perfect foil for her tumultuous feelings and hunger for love - without showing an inch of naked flesh, the two generate incredible erotic heat. Claude Rains was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as the feckless Alex, and Ben Hecht was nominated for Best Screenplay for his script.
This is truly one of the great suspense films of all time, and an absolute MUST for the libraries of fans of this genre.
- NOTORIOUS LOOKING TRANSFER
I'm not exactly sure what Criterion means when they advertise their discs as 'pristine' or 'fully restored'. "Notorious" is Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece about Nazis, murder and deception. It stars Cary Grant as Devlin, a mysterious stranger who turns up at a party hosted by Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman). It seems that Alicia?s father is a convicted Nazi sympathizer and that Devlin ? actually an FBI agent - has been assigned to secure her complicity in a plot to expose a ring of Nazis operating in Rio. After some initial apprehension and a really good smack ? literally ? Alicia decides to accompany Devlin to Rio. There, the two begin a romance. But Alicia is conscious of the fact that her own sexual past is checkered. When she is assigned to seduce an old friend of her fathers, Alex Sebastian (Claude Rains), Devlin pulls away from their relationship. When Alex proposes marriage, Devlin suggests that Alicia go through with it. She does, assuming that Devlin believes the worst about her, that she is a woman of easy virtue whose wares have once again been sold to the highest bidder. But Alicia?s resulting marriage is not without danger. Alex?s mother, Anna (Leopoldine Konstantin) hounds the newlyweds at every turn and, after Alex discovers that Alicia and Devlin are working for the FBI, he and Anna concoct the slow demise of Alicia, poisoning her a little at a time to make it appear as though she is merely sick. ?Notorious? is perhaps Hitchcock?s most perfectly realized collaboration with producer, David O. Selznick. By all accounts the union between producer/director was a tempestuous one. Both wanted control over the project, though Selznick eventually won out. The film is tinged with Hitchcock touches, including the brilliantly staged ?discovery? scene in which Devlin deliberately has Alex stumble upon he and Alicia locked in a heated embrace in order to throw Alex off the their trail of deception.
But Criterion?s minting of Notorious is neither pristine, nor is it fully restored. What it is, is almost the same transfer that had previously been made available on DVD through Anchor Bay at bargain basement prices. In 1997 Anchor Bay release a bare bones version of "Notorious". Then, the image was smooth, somewhat softly focused, but overall, nicely rendered, with an impressive looking gray scale and deep, rich blacks. The Criterion DVD maintains those pluses but adds a host of negatives to the mix, including a sharpening to the image that makes it grainy and digitally harsh, rather than merely sharper. The blemishes inherent in the original camera negative stick out much more on Criterion?s version than on the Anchor Bay counterpart. Edge enhancement, aliasing and shimmering of fine details rear their ugly head from time to time. The audio is identical to the previously issued DVD from Anchor Bay and is nicely balanced. But Criterion?s version of Notorious misframes the title sequence with a black border and also substitutes an RKO studio credit for the Selznick International original ? both present on the Anchor Bay disc.
The packaging of Criterion discs leads one to believe they are getting more for your money than you actually are. The packaging says deleted scenes and alternate endings, but these are actually reprinted script pages that one can read about the film that might have been. There's no actual film footage to accompany these. Also, the isolated music track is rather scratchy sounding and also includes the effects track - ergo - its really pointless to listen for fidelity purposes. Listening to a crowd cheering over a music cue while the principles are rendered mute doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. Also, there's a Lux Radio Broadcast (audio only, of course) track that's really not in very good shape, considering how amazing the film was. Do your wallet a favor and wait for the rights to these films to revert back to another studio that is more humble in their asking price than CRITERION....more info
- A Hitchcock Classic
Notorious is a classic romantic thriller that should not be missed by movie fans everywhere. Set after WWII, the story follows the efforts of a team of American agents trying to infiltrate a Nazi spy ring in Brazil. An American agent, T.R. Devlin, recruits the beautiful Alicia Huberman to try and rat out the spies since she was romantically linked with one of them in the past. Upon arriving, she discovers there is much more going on than what they thought. All the while, Devlin and Alicia begin to fall in love as the danger gets worse and worse. Hitchcock made a true classic with this one. A great story, excellent cast, and ground-breaking camera work all help make Notorious a can't miss film. Watching this you can also see how John Woo was influenced by this movie when he made Mission: Impossible 2. The stories are almost identical.
Notorious boasts an excellent cast full of Hollywood's big stars. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman star as T.R. Devlin and Alicia Huberman and are great together. There is an obvious chemistry between the two of them as they realize that they have fallen in love with each other. Claude Rains is equally good as Alex Sebastian, Nazi spy and romantic link with Alicia. Even though he is the bad guy, you can't help but feel bad for him since Rains is so likable. Louis Calhern also stars as the leader of the American agents in Brazil and is very good. I won't go through all the extras on the Criterion Collection DVD, but I will say that if you like this movie then you'll love all of the included extras. For movie fans everywhere, go check out Notorious!...more info
- Uneven Hitchcock
In the aftermath of World War II, the Americans are hunting down and prosecuting the remaining Nazis anywhere they can. One such conviction brings Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) across their radar. Her father has just been sent to prison for his involvement. But he knew more Nazis, and they think that Alicia can help them get the entire cell.
T. R. Devlin (Cary Grant) is the one who makes this pitch. At first reluctant, Alicia soon leaves for the assignment in Brazil with Devlin as her handler.
The assignment involves reuniting with Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains) and getting as close to him as possible. Since Alexander had a crush on Alicia, that part is no problem. But how far will Alicia go? Is this novice in over her head?
The basic premise of the film is familiar, and I thought that in the master's hands it might turn out to be pretty good. And there are plenty of good suspense moments, all in the second half. I'm not going to spoil any, but do know I was on the edge of my seat several times.
However, getting there was a chore. This movie is very heavy handed with the romance, especially in the first half. Frankly, I never bought it for whatever reason. Maybe it just happened too fast. Anyway, it felt forced into the story. And it made me actually dislike Devlin. I couldn't believe how he behaved at multiple points in the film. Frankly, both he and Alicia acted very stupidly multiple times.
The story is okay with several exciting parts, but the rest of the movie just doesn't support those scenes....more info
- Fine thriller from Hitchcock
In the days following the end of WWII, an American agent (Cary Grant) recruits a socialite (Ingrid Bergman) with a reputation as a party girl and a father recently convicted as a Nazi spy. She is to use her connections to the Nazi underground to seduce one of the leaders (Claude Rains) and obtain some vital information. Matters are complicated when the girl and the agent fall for each other yet recognize the necessity of completing their mission.
This is a fine film with many suspenseful scenes, such as the party where it becomes vital that the champagne last all night. The heart of the film is the romance and this is also its weakness. There were so many scenes of simple misunderstandings and deliberately hurtful actions meant to disguise their true feelings that the characters began to seem rather childish. Although this may have been in character for Bergman's spoiled socialite, I would have expected more from Grant's seasoned professional spy. Nevertheless, Hitchcock's direction is innovative and the cast is excellent....more info
- Among Hitchcock's Best
Notorious is a wonderfully complex romance set amidst a backdrop of spies and counter spies in post WW II Rio. Ingrid Bergman is Alicia Huberman, daughter of a Nazi conspirator. Because of her familial connection, she is enlisted by the Americans and paired with agent T. R. Devlin, played by Cary Grant, to infiltrate a group of Nazis living in exhile. At first Alicia and Devlin are attracted to each other romantically, but as the mission progresses, their relationship turns bitter. Bergman's character goes so far as to marry the leader of the Nazis, a move which further alienates her from Grant. The Criterion DVD is really quite wonderful. The print is clear and bright, making earlier video and DVD versions look poor in comparison. The critical commentaries by film scholar Marian Kean and film historial Rudy Behlmer are interesting and will add to the viewers understanding of the film and the mastery of director Alfred Hitchcock. Each scene is wonderfully framed and excecuted by this master filmaker. There are plenty of extras to enjoy, but the real plus here is the aforementioned terrific film transfer and the wonderful performances from the key players including a great turn by Claude Rains as Bergman's Nazi husband. If you haven't seen this film, you really won't fully understand the influence Hitchcock had on American cinema. Aspects of this film have been copied over again, but none can come close to this masterpiece. The fact that the three leads weren't even nominated for Academy Awards, is one of the mysteries of this overblown popularity contest....more info
- Romantic Noir
Hitchcock framed this wartime noir film around a debonair Cary Grant and the youthful beauty of Ingrid Bergman. Luxuriant black and white cinematography was added to this elegant love story set in the world of secret agents, giving it a lusciously romantic glow not found in his other films. The love story plays out against mounting suspense, making this one of his best films.
From sun-drenched Miami to exotic Brazil, this intertwined story of spies and romance is exciting to watch. American secret agent Delvin (Grant) is forced to use Alicia (Bergman) to get close to a suspected Nazi, Alexander Sebastion (Claude Rains). Alicia's father was convicted of being a German agent, and his playgirl daughter has been living fast and hard trying to forget ever since. Delvin reluctantly recruits her under orders from above and the vulnerable Alicia falls hard for him.
Her assignment must take top priority, so Delvin cannot let on that he too has fallen for her. Claude Rains does a good job as the deceptively dangerous Sebastion, in love with Alicia but growing more suspicious by the moment. His suspicions reach a fever pitch when her old friend Delvin arrives on the scene.
All Alicia wants is for Delvin to tell her not to get close to Sebastion. He can't, of course, and the romantic tension builds side by side with the suspense, creating an almost unbearable anxiety on two fronts.
The romance gets equal billing until Alicia and Delvin discover something in the wine cellar and Sebastion realizes she is a spy. Since Delvin has been reassigned to Spain, he may not be in time to save her. The famous staircase scene is just one highlight in a film filled with memorable images.
Hitchcock took an alluring Bergman, a handsome Grant, and a tightly written and suspenseful script, and made one of the most exciting and lusciously beautiful films in screen history. Ingrid Bergman is lovely and vulnerable and Cary Grant has his hands full keeping his feelings to himself so he can do his job. Don't miss this one. It is one of Hitchcock's best....more info
- Oddly window-boxed intro
I've been a Criterion fan for many years (I still have my Cat People laserdisc). However there are a couple of odd things about this release.
1) Still frames show a reduced resolution. I've noticed this curious effect on several Criterion titles. Is this a DVD authoring problem?
2) The title sequence on this film is overzealously window-boxed. The image is reduced by at least 40%! WHY? Then the image zooms to fill the screen. If the title sequence needed to be window-boxed shouldn't the entire film require this? Strange.
It's about time that Criterion felt the pressure to use competitive pricing. Years ago they were the "only game in town" when it came to true special editions. Such editions have now become almost common place.
Still a great film. This disc almost rounds out my Hitchcock collection....more info
EXELENTE, LA MANO DE HITCHCOCK ESTA PRESENTE, EL GUION, LA DIRECCION Y LAS ACTUACIONES DE INGRID BERGMAN,CARY GRANY Y CLAUDE RAINS FORMIDABLES....more info
- Cary Grant - sexy and mysterious!
**BEWARE CONTAINS SPOILER INFORMATION**
Cary Grant for the most part, has never had any appeal to me. I placed him in the same pretty boy, handsome but kind of wimpy batch of Jimmy Stewart, Clark Gable, Gregory Peck type of characters. Myself liking the more rugged, manly-man types like Brando, Bogart, Mitchum and lets not forget the dynamic male presence of Kirk Douglas in Out of the Past!
HOWEVER, in this movie, Cary Grant plays T.R. Devlin, an American agent simply named "Devlin" in this movie. He is aloof, broodingly handsome, somewhat arrogant and finds himself falling in love with someone he knows is no good for him. He has to be around her, fighting his attraction and secretly wanting her, but being too prideful to let it be publicly known among his colleagues that he could possibly have fallen for a tramp.
Alicia (Ingrid Bergman) is the neglected daughter of a now convicted spy. She is perfectly cast because the innocence of her face never seems to match with the scandalous lifestyle she leads. You soon realize that no one has actually believed in her or shown her to be of any true worth. Consequently, she becomes the playgirl using her body and seeking the attention through affairs and flirtations with men (even friends of her father) - only to try to escape her feelings of rejection and worthlessness in booze. (Yes, our beloved Ilsa of Casablanca plays a recovering lush!) But finally it happens, she is in love with someone who loves her in spite of her past! Only to find out its not that at all, its what she was in the past that is going to now prove to be useful in nabbing an old boyfriend who is part of a Nazi spy ring. Used again.
Claude Reins is absolutely convincing as Alex Sebastian, the once again love-stricken, doting older man (the friend of her father) who thinks his double life is still a secret to Alicia. Although he is a Nazi spy, the film does not beat you over the head with the clicking of heels and the "Hail, Hitlers!" Its so subtle and well done that you really aren't convinced that he is the bad guy because he truly seems to love Alicia...until you soon find out that he loves himself and his life even more.
Then you throw in the smile-in-your-face, while trying to slowly kill you mother-in-law Madame Sebastian (EXCELLENTLY acted by Leopoldine Constantin) and you have one of Alfred Hitchcock's best, romantic suspense movies of all time.
GREAT MOVIE!...more info
- Shows How Much Love Hurts
I've always liked Notorious, but, until recently, it hasn't been one of my absolute favorite Hitchcock films. However, recently I've gained an appreciation for Alfred Hitchcock's more personal films. Lighter, more humorous films like The 39 Steps, The Lady Vanishes, Strangers on a Train, Rear Window, North By Northwest, Psycho (Hitch called this a black comedy), The Birds and Frenzy, to name a few, are masterpieces and rank among my favorite films of all time. But the films I have gained much more appreciation for in the past few years are those like Shadow of a Doubt, Vertigo and Notorious. Shadow of a Doubt showed that monsters can live among us, even in the most innocuous of settings and may even be someone we care about. Vertigo showed obsessive love taken to the extreme with deadly consequences. And Notorious shows just how hard it can be for someone to express love for another.
Like in many of Hitchcock's films, the central point of the story is masked by a plotline of suspense and intrigue. In this case, Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) must marry Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), an ex-Nazi in exile in Brazil, in order to infiltrate his organization. With the help of U.S. agent Devlin (Cary Grant), she finds out that Sebastian is stockpiling uranium (the MacGuffin). On the surface, it's a straightforward espionage tale.
However, the film, at its very core, is a tale of frustrated love. Specifically, Devlin can't bring himself to express what he feels for Alicia and must watch helplessly while she marries Sebastian. Devlin knows that he would jeopardize the entire mission if he tells Alicia he loves her and this repression begins to eat him up inside. Even at the beginning of the film when Alicia has fallen deeply in love with Devlin and tell him so, he can't bring himself to return that love, even though he feels just as she does. Cary Grant, usually charming, plays one of his darkest roles brilliantly. He shows his longing for Alicia in every expression on his face. Ingrid Bergman, likewise, shows the frustration of having to marry a man she despises while pining for the affections of the man she truly loves -- a man she thinks doesn't love her. The emotions onscreen are sometimes so raw its almost painful to watch. When Devlin finally tells Alicia how he really feels about her at the climax of the film, the scene ranks as one of the most emotional in screen history.
The movies often make it seem so easy to find true love. In Notorious, however, Alfred Hitchcock shows how painful and just how difficult it is to just say, "I love you" to someone you care about. Everyone has had situations where they were too afraid to tell someone they cared about that they loved him/her and have wondered what would have happened had they done so. It's agonizing to think that you may have missed your chance for happiness with someone who loves you as much as you love them. Alfred Hitchcock brilliantly recognizes those feelings in Notorious -- that's what makes this one of his best....more info
- Hardly "nothing at all"
This is among my favorites of Alfred Hitchcock's films, in large measure because of Cary Grant's performance as Devlin whose character and personality seem the antithesis of the public persona which Grant worked so effectively to create for himself after the film first appeared in 1946. Specifically, as a sophisticated gentleman (a gentle man) with impeccable manners, debonair and somewhat aloof, always meticulously groomed and self-assured. Throughout this film, I became progressively more irritated with Devlin who never misses an opportunity to verbally abuse Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) as he callously exploits her.
Many years ago, during someone's (Bob Dorian's?) introduction to one of Hitchcock's films on the American Movie Classics channel, I recall several references to a "McGuffin." Curious to know the etymology of the word, I was directed by Google to c2.com. Here is a summary of what I learned:
"McGuffin (aka: MacGuffin or maguffin) is a term for a Plot Enabling Device, i.e. a device or plot element in a movie that is deliberately placed to catch the viewer's attention and/or drive the logic of the plot, but which actually serves no further purpose - it won't pop up again later, it won't explain the ending, it won't actually do anything except possibly distract you while you try to figure out its significance. More specifically, it is usually a mysterious package or superweapon or something that everyone in the story is chasing. Possibly coined by Alfred Hitchcock (see below). The perfect example is the 'government secrets' that motivate the action in North By Northwest (1959). Another typical McGuffin is the Maltese Falcon. It gets the characters together, pits them against each other, but turns out to be worthless.
In his 1966 interview with director-film critic, Francois Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock said "It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says 'What's that package up there in the baggage rack?' And the other answers, 'O that's a McGuffin.' The first one asks 'What's a McGuffin?' 'Well' the other man says, "It's an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands.' The first man says, "But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands,' and the other one answers 'Well then that's no McGuffin!' So you see a McGuffin is nothing at all."
That is certainly not true of Notorious. If viewed as a plot enabling device in in this film, Hitchcock's McGuffin (or MacGuffin or maguffin) is a hidden cache of uranium ore which Devlin and his associates are determined to locate and seize so as to prevent Germany from acquiring a nuclear weapon capability near the end of World War Two in Europe. Because they are certain that a wealthy neo-Nazi, Alexander Sebastian (Claude Raines), knows where it is, their strategy is to have Alicia capture Sebastian's heart, marry him, and then spy on him. The devious and determined Devlin is primarily responsible for supervising Alicia and, of course, eventually falls in love with her.
This is among Hitchcock's darkest films, despite the radiance of the emotionally fragile Alicia's essential goodness. (She is probably Hitchcock's most sympathetic female character. When I first saw Notorious, I fell in love with her myself.) Both Devlin and Sebastian find themselves torn between conflicting loyalties which increase tension among the leading characters as well as our sense of anticipation while exacerbating various ambiguities. In none of his other films does Hitchcock invest uncertainty with as much menace as he does in Notorious. Screenwriter Ben Hecht's plot is seamless, all of the performances are outstanding, and by the film's conclusion, we even feel at least some sympathy for Devlin and Sebastian. This is truly a "classic."
The DVD version (Criterion Collection) offers a wealth of special features for which I am deeply grateful....more info
- ONE OF THE ALL-TIME GREAT ROMANTIC THRILLERS
The romantic tension in this superlative Hitchcock spy story is fabulous. It is a little hard to believe that any guy ( even Cary Grant ) could resist someone as incredibly beautiful as Ingrid Bergman was, pretty much throwing herself at him, but that's why the romance works so well. The fact that the suspense ( revolving around a Nazi group in Brazil that is refining uranium ore ) matches the romance is due in large part to the genius of Hitchcock, and the marvelous Claude Rains as the sinister, and calculating Alexander. Rains' character, is the sexually-frustrated, head of the spy network, freshly-recruited, secret agent, Alicia ( Ingrid Bergman, who is simply radiant in this role ), the daughter of a convicted traitor, is sent to 'land.' Alicia's contact, Devlin ( Cary Grant, in one of his best performances ever ) refuses to let his emotions get in the way of his job- despite the fact, that he has fallen for the 'notorious' party girl, Alicia. The screenplay, and cinematography are wonderful, as are Edith Heads' costumes for Bergman.
There are plenty of extras on this edition, and the audio, and video qualities are very good. This is a must have for Hitchcock, Bergman, Grant, or Rains' fans. NOTORIOUS is one of the great film's in cinema history.
- My Favorite Hitchcock Film of all Time
This is Alfred Hitchcock's best film ever. I have seen all his films except for a few of the more arcane silent ones and I must say that while Strangers on a Train, Psycho, Rear Window, Vertigo and North by Northwest are right up there, Notorious has them beat.
Ingrid Bergman, as Alicia Huberman, has two things, a reputation as a drunken slut, and a father who is convicted of being a spy at the beginning of the movie. Cary Grant, working for the government, seeks her out to see if she will help them against some of the Nazis in Rio. Grant has a recorded conversation where Bergman confessed her love for America and her hatred for the Nazis. He also figures her "notorious" reputation may help them get the information they want.
Unfortunately for both of them, they fall in love right before the assignment comes down. She is to infiltrate the home of Nazi official Claude Rains to get information. Rains used to be in love with her and the government knows that can be useful.
The reason the film is so great is that all three characters find themselves in emotional bondage that they can't escape from. Rains loves Bergman truly, but she does not love him, she loves Grant. He won't tell her he loves her, rather he encourages her to get closer to Rains. She does it, only because she loves him.
By the way, out of all Hitchcock movies, I think there is only one which ended with a classic line. That movie is Notorious. When you see it, you will know. The end of this movie may be the best ever. You know exactly what will happen with each character, even if you don't see any of it.
I am a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan. He constantly put the audience in the mind of the characters and made us watch exactly what the characters saw (See Rear Window and Lifeboat). This movie makes us really feel for Ingrid Bergman's character. Even though to this point in her life, she had done nothing remarkable, she suffers the whole movie out of love for a man who will not reciprocate. Hitchcock shows us how much true love can really hurt. What a classic!...more info
- One of my favorites movies of all time....
...but, where is amazon coming up with the names of the principal characters in the movie?!? What about CARY GRANT & INGRID BERGMAN, two of the best actors/actresses ever? It seems as if this would be a very difficult mistake to make; it's pretty obvious on the cover of the movie even if you know nothing about the movie itself. Can't amazon do any better than this? I think a wonderful classic like this with such amazing and timeless actors deserves better....more info
- A Classic!
This is one of my top 5 movies of all time. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman are amazing, as is Claude Rains. Definitely 5 out of 5 stars!...more info
- Another Hitchcock classic big for its time
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
Notorious was a film of its time. Made in 1946 it is the story of a young woman whose nazi-supporting father is convicted of treason after the end of World War II. The government then recruits her to track down his accomplices in Brazil.
The film is said by some to be overlooked but I think that that could be said of almost any Hitchcock film. The film is different from other Hitchcock films in some of its plot elements but is still good.
The Criterion DVD has great special features too and they are typical of a good release. There are two audio commentaries, one by Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane and another by Rudy Behlmer. There is the unedited 1948 Lux Radio Theater version with Ingrid Bergman reprising her lead role. There are numerous theatrical trailers and many production photos, publicity stills, and lobby cards. There are also facsimilies of correspondence between the filmmakers. Thre are parts of the short story "Song of the Dragon" which the film is based on. There is news footage if Alfred Hitchcock and Ingrid Bergman attendign a gala of the film. Finally there are parts script which were cut from the film and alternate endings in script form.
The DVD wend out of print at the beginning of 2004 but is still available at a low price. Buy before the price goes up, or hope it will be back in print....more info
- I have to disagree
A lot of people (Roger Ebert among them) seem to think that Notorious is Hitchcock's neglected masterpiece, but to me it seems like a remarkably inferior film, especially compared to the rest of Hitchcock's output. Aspects of the film may be brilliant, but as a whole it's difficult to watch and drags badly. The ambiguous nature of its villains is one problem. In his 'political' films, Hitchcock liked to make 'the enemy' ambiguous in order to keep from taking sides in an actual conflict, as he was always more concerned with personal dramas. Here, however, Rainier fails as a 'Nazi' with no defined agenda, a man who is entirely lacking in menace, along with his cohorts (it is implied that they commited one murder, but aside from that, they resemble a gentlemen's club). Since most of the film even takes place in his house, it seems important that he be a striking character. Yet everything about him, from his physical appearance to his manner of speaking, to the lines accorded him by the script, makes him unconvincing and dull. When he realizes that he will have to poison his wife, it is only when his domineering mother leans on him that he agrees to do it. This even could have been a fine dramatic moment, but it fails, reading more like a mother nagging her son to take out the garbage: 'Oh, alright, fine.' He could, of course, be called a human villain, but he is far too human. Cary Grant's secret agent character is equally dull. He starts out seeming very debonair, but his love affair with Bergman seems to suck all the drama out of his character. His final rescue of Bergman is as routine and unremakable as a plumber coming in to fix the household toilet. Bergman, at least, was given a unique character and acts well, but there is not enough for her to do to make the film engaging.
In all, Notorious is rightly disregarded today, and should never approach the pedestal of Vertigo, Rear Window, Psycho or the Birds. Hitchcock may be at his best here, but his actors, and most especially his screenwriter, let him down....more info