Sunday, February 17, 2008

Notorious (1946)

I have watched and re-watched so many Hitchcock movies, and it just occurred to me that I have never once spotted Hitchcock doing one of his cameos, aside from after the movie if there's a DVD feature that shows it to me. I'm going to choose to believe that this is because I am so involved in the plots of the movies and not that I am completely unobservant. Anyways, I've been meaning to see this one since "Suspicion," because I had parts of the plots confused.

Notorious: Ingrid Bergman plays Alicia, the daughter of a Nazi spy who killed himself in prison. Cary Grant plays an American agent, Devlin, who recruits Alicia to spy on her father's former friends. He brings her to Rio de Janeiro, where she is expected to infiltrate a group of German scientists. When Alicia and Devlin first arrive in Rio, they don't know the full details of Alicia's assignment. As they wait for their orders, Alicia falls in love with Devlin, and Devlin does his best to pretend that he has not fallen for her. Devlin finally receives word that the assignment calls for Alicia to seduce a former friend of her father's who was once in love with her, Alexander Sebastian ("...Claude Rains was the invisible man..."!). He is horrified and tries but fails to tell the other American agents that it is not a job Alicia should be made to do. He returns to Alicia's apartment (where she has been preparing a lovely romantic dinner for him), and tells her the assignment. Alica is just as horrified as Devlin and is upset by the seemingly emotionless way in which Devlin tells her about it. All she wants is for Devlin to admit that he loves her and does not want her to take the assignment. Devlin is unable to do this and doesn't even tell her that he tried to get her out of it. This all leads to Alicia's wonderfully delivered line, "Oh, we shouldn't have had this out here. It's all cold now." Alicia is reintroduced to Sebastian, very quickly marries him, and begins to feed Devlin information about the scientists who meet frequently at the house. Unfortunately for Alicia, Sebastian discovers her treachery, putting her into even greater danger. I will not give the ending away. Just know that Cary Grant is wonderful.

I realized that while I watch Cary Grant movies, I am always evaluating which Cary Grant characters I would run away with. Devlin, I think, is not quite right for me. It would be too tortured what with neither of us giving away our feelings. I remain most likely to run off with Johnny Case from "Holiday." Four stars for this movie... I am sure I will see it again someday. Time to see "Holiday" again!

1 comment:

Ms. Q said...

Finally watched this last night. You didn't mention here how suspenseful the movie is (though I suppose I should always imply that with Hitchcock) - I was pinching Kim's hand through about half the movie.
Gets four stars from me. Great dialogue, great acting, great directing (ok I guess now I'm officially a Hitchcock fan, despite the fact that I can never relax while watching one of his movies). Great CLOTHES - I was totally distracted from the first scene in Rio by her coat "wonder if I could get a coat like that?"

But also I have to take a moment to analyze why it's such a great romantic film:
1. the leads are in real danger
2. they are both heroic
3. her character is called into question, but eventually redeemed
4. the love between them remains felt but unexpressed for most of the movie
5. when the movie begins she is weak and he is strong...and it ends with the roles reversed and then reversed again.

Love under constraint, danger, heroism, reversals - that's the formula. This is why "Failure to Launch" was not a great romance. Hollywood, please take notes.