Notorious - 1946

Notorious - Released Sept 6, 1946. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock's film has two lead stars, but it's really a heroine adventure story, featuring Ingrid Bergman as Alicia Huberman, and secondarily Cary Grant as intelligence officer Devlin, the man who recruits her to infiltrate a Nazi den in Brazil.

The film tells us she's bad ("tramp" is used a couple of times) but she hardly seems evil or unlikeable, just moderately alcoholic and deeply depressed (and cynical) because her father turned out to be a Nazi agent working against the allies, something that would probably knock just about any American for a loop in 1946.

Then she meets Cary Grant and things are looking up, except in Ben Hecht's script, she has to prove that she's worthy of his attention, which then means she has to marry Nazi-sympathizer Claude Rains (as Alexander Sebastian) and live with him and his diabolical mother (Madame Leopoldine Konstantin) in their enormous mansion in Rio De Janeiro.

Being rich and adored might not seem like much of a penance, but considering she wants to be with Cary Grant, being assigned to Claude Rains is a quite an ordeal. In between the day-to-day tasks of a married woman, she has to meet with Grant in secret to receive orders to look for the hard evidence the US Government needs about the Nazi groups activities. Much of this coaching from agent Devlin (and his name is no accident) is delivered in tones dripping with sarcasm, condescension and disgust since Grant's character cannot face up to the fact that he's fallen in love with this amoral super-spy he has imagined (she's not a super-spy, only an amateur following orders, but in the end she's more effective than the whole staff of spy professionals working with Cary).

Eventually everybody has to face the music: Mr. Sebastian has to tell his mother that the new Mrs. Sebastian isn't exactly who he thought she was (something mother Sebastian suspected all along and is ready to solve with poison); Agent Devlin makes a weak attempt to get assigned to another location but instead winds up at the doorstep of the enormous mansion with a case of worry and an advanced case of love-sickness; and Hitchcock has to create his usual level of tension in the middle of a spy-love melodrama, which he is able to do with his usual efficiency.

Original Page July 24, 2016
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