Monday, January 05, 2015

Notorious (1946)

Beefing on Hitchcock

A story of love, duty and betrayed trust, Notorious showed the world a genuine work of art. Alfred Hitchcock was beginning to make a name for himself not just as a director but as a film maker.

The film having been in and out of progress under David O. Selznick, it was finally sold off to RKO Pictures, where Hitchcock was given pretty much full reign to make the film he wanted to make. Selznick still tried several attempts to have his say in the final product, forcing various re-writes throughout the production... but in the end, it was Hitchcock and only Hitchcock who decided to ignore each and every one of those changes and put onto the screen his motion picture.

Stars Cary Grant, as T.R. Devlin, and Ingrid Bergman, as Alicia Huberman, carry the story along into a tale of espionage and romance, culminating in a love triangle with a well-off Nazi leader, portrayed wonderfully by Claude Rains. Berrgman's Alicia was to do her duty for her country by seducing and marrying Rains' Alex Sebastian, for the sole purpose of uncovering a cache of Uranium. Of course, the real focal point of the story was in the romance and misplaced trust between the characters, which took a few bold turns.

With 1944's Lifeboat, the director manipulated the audience to view a Nazi as a human being and not merely a monster; not a very popular thought at the time... and in Notorious, he pushed the story into an even more risque direction, causing us to even sympathize with the Nazi villain, something we still shy from even to this day. While Sebastian may have been a Nazi and very clearly involved in some nefarious dealings, a definite "bad guy," he wasn't really all that bad of a guy in the long run. He loved Alicia with all his heart, and you can't help but feel sad for the guy at the knowledge that he's being played the entire way through.

In all, this is one of Hitchcock's most classic classics. Shot, written and acted beautifully, the entire film is pretty close to perfect and is a prime example of what catapulted the director into complete (dare I say) notoriety.

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