Notorious (1946)

Notorious (1946), directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

G-man Cary Grant persuades Ingrid Bergman, daughter of a traitor, to infiltrate a nest of nazis in Rio. She's a drunken tramp and he figures she won't mind doing whatever is necessary to find out what they're up to. But what if she reforms and falls in love with her handler? She: "It's no fun, Dev." He: "You'll get used to it."

This is one of Hitchcock's "women's thrillers". It's all about her pain and sacrifice, her need to be cherished and loved. She prostitutes herself to one man to satisfy another. The moments of extreme tension are also the moments of extreme passion, as when they are caught kissing in the wine cellar. Look into women's erotic literature and you find links between desire and danger which are strange to most men.

Grant is unusually serious here, a cold fish, the spy manager as pimp. He's not supposed to fall in love with his agent, and when he does he doesn't have the moral courage to pull her out. He kids himself that she hasn't changed and likes sleeping with the enemy, cruelly taunting her. He stiffens up and does the right thing in the end; we hope it isn't too late.

(The commentary track says both people are at fault. She can't be honest about her feelings either. I'll check that out next time).

We have a strange sympathy for Claude Rains, nazi stooge. He is honestly in love with this tall woman, breaking away from his jealous domineering mother to be his own man. When he discovers the awful truth he goes crawling back to Mom, a vivid picture of pain and humiliation. She tells him: "We are protected by the enormity of your stupidity, for a time."

The final rescue scene is nicely done, although the last moment where they abandon Rains to the other nazis is abrupt and unsatisfying. It needed another minute or two in the car as they drive away, but maybe they'd said it all in the bedroom just previously.

Written by Ben Hecht. Bergman's clothes by Edith Head. Bergman and Grant are a gorgeous couple.

Available on Blu-ray with two commentary tracks and an isolated score. It's a good upgrade over my old Anchor Bay/Image DVD, but the film source itself is of only fair quality.

One commentary is by the excitable film scholar; he says this is his favorite Hitchcock. The other commentary is a studio history which I skipped.

ClassicFlix has the Blu-ray, Netflix doesn't.