1946 was a great year in film if you like Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains.This post was dedicated to TOM AT DIGITALSHORTBREAD who hosted a blogathon and called for submissions about one’s favorite film ending in the year six. Notorious is my favorite Hitchcock film for many reasons, and I am happy to share why.
A WWII Nazi war criminal is caught and imprisoned. His daughter is Else (Ingrid Bergman), a party-loving bad girl. She is persuaded to be a spy for the U.S. government who is trying to break up the boys from Brazil. She falls in love with her co-conspirator, Devlin, played by Cary Grant, whose occupation has trained him to distrust everyone, especially the seductive charms of women. He knocks her lights out after she drives recklessly drunk. After the famous kissing scene on the phone, he allows her to prostitute herself with wily, love-sick Sebastian, and then calls her a harlot and a drunk for much of the movie. Now that’s love, gals.
The plan is to infiltrate the opulent manor of Sebastian and his creepy mother and spy on their operations. The cellar holds the secret, and the key to the door is the small prop with grave consequences for Else. Will Devlin save her in the niche of time and redeem himself?
Hitchcock creates an exotic mood of the thriller by taking full advantage of his exterior settings like the Florida drunk-drive at night, the shots from the plane of the statue of Jesus Christ at the summit of Mount Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, the bustling city, the race track, and the manor home by the sea. Whether in a crowd or on a terrace with the harbor as a backdrop, you want to be there. There exceptional uses of cinematography for 1946 that are clever and bolster Alfred Hitchcock’s reputation for suspense and an innovative director.
- Else has a hangover and sees Devlin’s silhouette in the doorway. When he approaches, you are Else and through her perspective, the camera turns upside down.
- The two and half minute kissing scene which bent censorship rules and joined sensory imagery and eroticism with a chicken in the oven.
- Else glides down a staircase with a key in her hand. Hitch uses a crane and zooms into the key in her hand in one graceful moment. The magnificent checkerboard floor, her Edith Head black velvet dress, the diamonds and general beauty of the setting merge with the people. It’s aesthetically balanced and luxurious.
- The reflective shots of mirrors in general whether they are binoculars at the race track or in cars or the house.
- A perfect final shot with the massive double doors; Sebastian must face his executioners. If you have not seen this masterpiece, rent it soon. It’s one of the best movies ever, especially from 1946. It’s all the details that I find charming. A favorite is when he wraps the scarf around her midriff. What’s yours?