NOTORIOUS (1946) 

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Cary Grant
Ingrid Bergman
Claude Rains
Louis Calhern
Leopoldine Konstantin
Moroni Olsen
Ivan Triesault
Wally Brown
Ricardo Costa

Alfred Hitchcock



About Grant

About Bergman

Time: 101 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Suspense/Romance

Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Rains) and Best Screenplay.

NOTORIOUS isn't among Hitchcock's most famous films, but it should be. It's one of my favorites, mainly due to the star power of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. They never looked better and, thanks to Hitch, they have marvelous roles to play. One of his more romantic films, NOTORIOUS has an exotic location, nefarious Nazis and desperate passion. What could be better? This is suspense at its best. Grant and Bergman are wonderful together. He's the suave, clever secret agent, who falls for the wrong girl. She's the beautiful girl with a very naughty reputation. Together they must find out what the Nazis are doing in Rio. Though their main job is to fall in love, which they do perfectly.

The film begins with Devlin (Grant) crashing Alicia's (Bergman) house party after her father is convicted of being a Nazi spy in a very high-profile trial. She's drinking to forget and her guests are only to willing to oblige her. She's angry and tired of being followed by the police. She just wants to get away. She invites Devlin, a very attractive stranger, to go for a "ride" in her car. When they are pulled over by the police, due to her erratic driving, she discovers that Devlin is one of "them", the dreaded cops who are torturing her. The next morning, he reveals that he's been sent by the government to recruit her for a little assignment in Brazil. They know she's patriotic and need someone with her connections and particular "skills." She's unable to turn him down and is soon on a plane to Rio.

Once there she cleans up her act – no drinking, no men – while waiting for her instructions. She also just happens to fall in love with Devlin. The feelings are mutual. Unfortunately, their love doesn't have much time to blossom. Her assignment is to infiltrate the home of an old family friend, Alexander Sebastian (Rains), who used to have a crush on her. It's implied that she won't have any problems "befriending" him and will do whatever it takes to find out what he and his fellow scientists are up to. She wanted to hear that Devlin stood up for her, told them she was no longer such a woman. Her feelings are crushed. He makes it clear that it's her decision. He's not going to stand in her way or give her false hope for their future. If he won't fight for her, what choice does she have? Their plan works perfectly. Alex is thrilled to see her and soon has her living with him.

"There's nothing like a love song to give you a good laugh."

To keep up the charade and quell Alex's fear that she has some ulterior motive and is really in love with Devlin, she agrees to marry him. She convinces Alex to throw a party and to invite Devlin to show him how happy they are together. He's wary, but agrees. It is at this party, that Alicia and Devlin discover what is really going on in the house. In an elaborate set-up, they manage to get the key from Alex to the locked wine cellar, where something is being hidden worth killing a man over. A shattered bottle reveals uranium and is almost their undoing. Alex discovers them in a passionate embrace and is convinced their presence outside the cellar was a tryst. However, later that evening he uncovers Alicia's secret. She's not in love with Devlin, she's a spy! Knowing what his compatriots will do to him if they find out, he and his mother go to work to make sure that Alicia won't be around long enough to tell. In the end, Devlin comes to the rescue, Alex gets his comeuppance and Alicia saves the day. All's fair in love and war.

There are many things that make this an exciting and wonderful film. The acting, the dialogue, the cinematography just to name a few. No one puts together scenes that make you bite your nails in suspense like Hitchcock. The entire party scene is filled with little hindrances – how will she get Devlin the key, how long until the champagne runs out, how will she get away from Alex's jealous eyes – designed to keep you on the edge of your seat. Grant is perfect as a man torn between his duty and his love. You can see the torture in his eyes every time he has to leave her. She may be a woman of dubious morals, but that's why he loves her. No bland, boring girls for this secret agent. Bergman has a particular knack for playing strong, intelligent women who've made some mistakes, but still have self-respect. Though NOTORIOUS has a pretty good plot, in the end, it's nothing but a love story. Who really cares what the Nazis are doing with uranium? I just want to see Grant and Bergman make love to one another. In this case, you get what you pay for.

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