Wednesday, January 20, 2010

'Notorious' is a great spy thriller
that includes feeble romantic elements

Notorious (1947)
Starring: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Raines
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Rating: Eight of Ten Stars

After tough American Intelligence agent Devlin (Grant) forces Alicia Huberman (Bergman), a young woman whose father was a notorious Nazi sympathizer to use the fact one of her father's former associates, Alexander Sebastian (Rains), loves her deeply to infiltrate a suspected group of post-WW2 Nazis in South America. Unfortunately for himself and the mission, Devlin finds himself falling in love with her.

"Notorious" is part romantic melodrama and part spy-thriller. The romance part I never did buy--the love between Grant and Bergman's characters seems forced--but the thriller side works beautifully.

Hitchcock uses camera angles, lightings, and even extreme close-up shots to heighten tension masterfully. (Alicia's confrontations with Alexander's posessive, shrewish, and master-Nazi mother are most masterfully done, as well as the climactic scene, and the final shot in particular.)

With the exception of the weakly done romance between Devlin and Alciia, the characters are all excellently drawn and brilliantly portrayed by the actors. One can actually feel Alexander's heart breaking when he discovers the truth about Alicia.

"Notorious" is another Hitchcock masterpiece. It has some flaws, but those are outweighed the overwhelming number of good parts.

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