The Essential Movie Library #49: Notorious (1946) - The Culture Files Blog - Los Angeles magazine
 
 

The Essential Movie Library #49: Notorious (1946)

In another era Cary Grant might have been James Bond.

Anticipating Rear Window, Vertigo (Essential Movie Library #2), and Psycho in the 1950s and early '60s, this is the movie where director Alfred Hitchcock started messing with people’s hearts as well as their heads. In it the good guys are wild party-girl Ingrid Bergman—the daughter of a convicted traitor (and a prostitute in an earlier version of the Ben Hecht script)—and government spy Cary Grant, who falls in love with her and then angrily puts her in danger. Claude Rains is the South American Nazi so deeply and blindly in love with Bergman that we can’t help feeling sympathy for him even when he gradually begins poisoning her to death. The Hitchcock style, traces of which are seen in the earlier Suspicion, Saboteur, and Shadow of a Doubt as the director made his transition from British film to American, now becomes fully apparent: The camera swoops from room to room; otherwise banal elements (a broken wine bottle) emerge as crucially suspenseful; mother-fixations play out on staircases. 

Rains received a well-justified Oscar nomination but surely Grant, at once so bitter and romantic—film’s comedic genius darker than anyone could imagine him—deserved one too; in another era he might have been James Bond. No scene better demonstrates Hitchcock’s status as the most subversive of mainstream directors than that on the balcony where Grant and Bergman kiss, and kiss, and kiss again, continually whispering to each other among the kisses (the actors improvised the endearments) because at the time movies weren’t allowed to show kisses that lasted more than three seconds. So the director strung together more two-and-half-second kisses than anyone could count, resulting in the most erotic clinch to be found on the far side of a similar moment between Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor five years later in A Place in the Sun.

Read them all:
The Essential Movie Library #48: Wings of Desire
The Essential Movie Library #47: L'Avventura
The Essential Movie Library #46: Malcolm X
The Essential Movie Library #45: In the Mood for Love
The Essential Movie Library #44: Touch of Evil
The Essential Movie Library #43: Once Upon A Time in the West
The Essential Movie Library #42: Belle de Jour
The Essential Movie Library #41: Apocalypse Now
The Essential Movie Library #40: Out of the Past
The Essential Movie Library #39: Branded to Kill
The Essential Movie Library #38: The General
The Essential Movie Library #37: Lord of the Rings
The Essential Movie Library #36: Aguirre, the Wrath of God
The Essential Movie Library #35: Raging Bull
The Essential Movie Library #34: The Rules of the Game
The Essential Movie Library #33: Chinatown 
The Essential Movie Library #32: Stalker
The Essential Movie Library #31: Weekend
The Essential Movie Library #30: Some Like It Hot 
The Essential Movie Library #29: Red River
The Essential Movie Library #28: The Passenger
The Essential Movie Library #27: Singin' in the Rain
The Essential Movie Library #26: Heat
The Essential Movie Library #25: L'Atalante
The Essential Movie Library #24: Sunrise
The Essential Movie Library #23: His Girl Friday
The Essential Movie Library #22: Black Narcissus
The Essential Movie Library #21: Blade Runner
The Essential Movie Library #20: Persona
The Essential Movie Library #19: The Shop Around the Corner
The Essential Movie Library #18: Lost Highway
The Essential Movie Library #17: Tokyo Story
The Essential Movie Library #16: 8 1/2

The Essential Movie Library #15: City Lights
The Essential Movie Library #14: Seven Samurai
The Essential Movie Library #13: Lawrence of Arabia
The Essential Movie Library #12: Citizen Kane
The Essential Movie Library #11: Jules and Jim
The Essential Movie Library #10: My Darling Clementine 
The Essential Movie Library #9: Double Indemnity 
The Essential Movie Library #8: That Obscure Object of Desire 
The Essential Movie Library #7: 2001: A Space Odyssey 
The Essential Movie Library #6: Casablanca
The Essential Movie Library #5: The Lady Eve
The Essential Movie Library #4: The Third Man 
The Essential Movie Library #3: The Passion of Joan of Arc 
The Essential Movie Library #2: Vertigo 
The Essential Movie Library #1: The Godfather Trilogy

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