Notorious (1946)

Imagine if Alfred Hitchcock made a film noir.

He did. It’s called “Notorious,” and it is near the top of the noir heap.

Cary Grant plays Devlin, an agent with some secret government agency. At a party, he meets Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman), the daughter of a German man convicted of treason. Devlin convinces Alicia to participate in an undercover assignment to get information on Nazis who’ve relocated to Brazil.

One of these Nazis is Alex Sebastian (Claude Rains), who is quite taken with Alicia and marries her. One night, the happy newlyweds throw a party, and Devlin discovers that some bottles of wine are not filled with wine at all.

To cover his prowling in the basement, Devlin kisses Alicia, and allows Alex to catch them. Devlin passes it off as drunken misbehavior and leaves.

Alex investigates, and disovers he has married an American agent. He and his mother begin poisoning poor Alicia, who grows sicker and sicker. Of course, Cary Grant rescues her in the end.

But what a ride. There is real chemistry between Grant and Bergman, moreso than she had with Bogie in “Casablanca.” The two became lifelong friends.

Hitchcock shows a spectacular command of camera and lighting techniques. In a few scenes–including the introduction of Devlin–characters are in complete shadow. It’s disoncerting, as we’re so used to seeing our characters illuminated.

This isn’t the “noirest” of the films noir–the protagonists knew just what they were in for–but it still qualifies.

Funnily enough, our post-Hiroshima cold war bugaboos appear. What’s in the fake wine bottles? Uranium ore, enough to build a nuclear bomb.

This isn’t my favorite Hitchcock film, but it’s in the top five. “Notorious” is beautifully written and directed, with virtuoso performances from a most-excellent cast.

Grade: A

About tom

B.A. in Literature, Minor in Film Theory and Criticism, thus meaning all I’m trained is to write blog posts here. Neptune is my favorite planet–it vents methane into the solar system like my brother does. I think Chicken McNuggets look like Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana. There are times when I’m medicated, which is why I wrote about McNuggets. Buy some today and tell me I’m wrong! Anyway, Beyond that: mammal, Floridian, biped.Good Night, and Good Luck. Besos, tom
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2 Responses to Notorious (1946)

  1. madtante says:

    My all-time fave HItch film and for many years, it was my all-time fave, period!


  2. stevebetz says:

    Great movie — and I agree that Grant had more chemistry than Bogie with Bergman. Though, I must admit that if I had to choose, I’d pick Grant over Bogart, too. Seemed like he’d be more fun.


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