Warning: mild spoilers ahead, for those who haven’t seen this film. And if you haven’t, go see it. Now! For heaven’s sake. 🙂 Anyway, don’t watch the last video, if you don’t already know the end.
In certain ways, Notorious may be the real predecessor to Hitchcock’s romantic spy film North by Northwest. Both have Cary Grant as the male lead (a government agent named T. R. Devlin). However, instead of a Hitchcock blonde, the government (through Devlin) enlists the aid of a Nazi’s daughter/party girl named Alicia Huberman (the thoroughly non-blonde Ingrid Bergman) to insinuate herself into the arms of the evil-yet-likable Alex Sebastian (i.e., to seduce Claude Rains).
Between the time Alicia says no to this mission and the time she finally accepts it, Devlin and she manage to fall in love. And like many a romance novel, Devlin acts all “I don’t really give a damn about you” toward Alicia and she, in return, pretends not to care.
Frankly, that’s the part of romantic movies that drive me nuts. It’s like I keep thinking, “Will you two please just talk to each other? For Pete’s sake!”
But that’s part of the sexual tension, so … okay … whatever.
But then there’s the spying part, which is fraught with tension (sexual and otherwise) as Alicia and Devlin discover a most interesting bottle in the wine cellar. They also share one of the hottest kisses filmed during the Hays Code era—thanks, not only to great acting, but great editing (to keep it within Code standards, lengthwise).
The last act and climax use the “ticking clock” device to heighten the suspense (in the form of slow poisoning, thanks to Sebastian’s “Mother Dearest”). Grant and Bergman smolder as romantic leads. Even so, I couldn’t help feeling just a little sorry for the Claude Rains character, who gets the girl only to lose her—then get way more than he bargained for.
A Hitchcock classic that deserves two thumbs up!
PS: Here’s another film review for my #52FilmsByWomen Pledge!