Decades Blogathon – Notorious (1946)



Day four in Decades, where me and that guy you should already know by now — Mark from Three Rows Back —  are exploring movies from decades past, where we’re asking contributors to talk about their favorite movies from any year ending in ‘6,’ brings us to another quality post, this time from Cindy Bruchman. I’m sure many of you already follow her but if you don’t, please go over and check out her site. Rare are the sites I find with so much in-depth analysis and thoughtful ruminations on so many different topics, ranging from movies both old and new, books, and other forms of entertainment. She’s also a great photographer. Let’s see what she has to say about the 1946 classic Notorious

1946 was a great year in film if you like Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains. This post is dedicated to TOM AT DIGITALSHORTBREAD  who is hosting a blogathon and called for submissions about one’s favorite film ending in the year six. Notorious is my favorite Hitchcock film for many reasons, and I am happy to share why.

The Plot

A WWII Nazi war criminal is caught and imprisoned. His daughter is Else (Ingrid Bergman), a party-loving bad girl. She is persuaded to spy for the U.S. government who is trying to break up the boys from Brazil. She falls in love with her co-conspirator, Devlin, played by Cary Grant, whose occupation has trained him to distrust everyone, especially the seductive charms of women. He knocks her lights out after she drives recklessly drunk. After the famous kissing scene on the phone, he allows her to prostitute herself with wily, love-sick Sebastian, and then calls her a harlot and a drunk for much of the movie. Now that’s love, gals.

Notorious pic

The plan is to infiltrate the opulent manor of Sebastian and his creepy mother and spy on their operations. The cellar holds the secret, and the key to the door is the small prop with grave consequences for Else. Will Devlin save her in the niche of time and redeem himself?

Hitchcock creates an exotic mood of the thriller by taking full advantage of his exterior settings like the Florida drunk-drive at night, the shots from the plane of the statue of Jesus Christ at the summit of Mount Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, the bustling city, the race track, and the manor home by the sea. Whether in a crowd or on a terrace with the harbor as a backdrop, you want to be there. Still, there are three exceptional scenes with unique cinematography for 1946 that are clever and bolster Alfred Hitchcock’s reputation for suspense and a great director.

  1. Else has a hangover and sees Devlin’s silhouette in the doorway. When he approaches, you are Else and through her perspective, the camera turns upside down.
  2. The two and half-minute kissing scene which bent censorship rules and joined sensory imagery and eroticism with a chicken in the oven.
  3. Else glides down a staircase with a key in her hand. Hitch uses a crane and zooms into the key in her hand in one graceful moment. The magnificent checkerboard floor, her Edith Head black velvet dress, the diamonds and general beauty of the setting merge with the people. It’s aesthetically balanced and lush.
  4. The reflective shots of mirrors in general whether they are binoculars at the race track or in cars or the house.

If you haven’t seen this masterpiece, I hope you will soon. It’s one of the best movies ever, especially from 1946.

Photo credits: 

16 thoughts on “Decades Blogathon – Notorious (1946)

  1. Nice review. I haven’t seen this in years; to be honest, I felt disappointed when I initially watched it but I don’t remember anything about the experience. I’ll have to check it out again.

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  2. Great review Cindy! I should probably check this out at some stage. I am still so wary of checking anything Hitchcock after that blogathon Rob and I did because I had to watch so many of his early work (which was awful) xD However, he also has some brilliant films. This looks like one of them.

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  3. An out and out classic given the justice it deserves Cindy! Tom – for some unknown reason it’s not allowing me to reblog your post. WordPress continues to be a royal pain in the arse.

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  4. Cindy is so good. Such a fine writer. This is also one of all time favorites. I would like to add another great scene, at the end. Sebastian walks a long walk to the mansion where his friends, Nazis, are standing there waiting, waiting to give him what he deserves, for failing.

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    • Oh, Mark. It’s a lot of fun. I hope you watch it first. It’s a perfect date movie. Your wife will appreciate it as much as you, I presume. 😉


  5. This is one of the gaps in my Hitchcock viewing, Cindy. I’ve had it as part of a complete box-set and haven’t yet got around to it. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

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