Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Still Notorious after all these years ...

NOTORIOUS, Alfred Hitchcock's 1946 classic, does not look or feel like it is 70 years old.
This is surely the high-point of Hitch's 1940s output. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman are both are their zenith, and Claude Rains is again superalative too, and lets not forget Madam Konstantin as his creepy mother, and Louis Calhern splendid as usual. 
This is a twisted romance with a vengance as Ingrid's Alicia Hubermann joins spies in Rio to spy on those Nazis - what is in those bottles in the wine cellear. Alicia is set up to meet a former friend of her father's who was smitten with her and still is now. They meet, with the connivance of agent Cary Grant who loves Alicia but does not trust or love her enough to keep her from marrying Rains, to enable her to spy on him and his colleagues ..... the moment Rains discovers the truth and goes to his mother to help him is marvellous cinema as is the moment when Alicia realises she is being poisoned by them. Cary thinks she is drunk when she is unwell at their last meeting - before, finally, he goes to the house to rescue her, leaving Claude and his mother at the mercy of those Germans ..... Its a simple plot but marvellously executed, script by Ben Hecht, like that great zoom shot of the camera on a boom descending to the close-up of the key in Alicia's fist. I like that balcony scene too and the great long kissing sequence between the lovers, and their early meeting when Grant first meets Alicia who is drinking heavily, before she redeems herself for her father's crimes, by flying down to Rio with those American agents ..... We almost sympathise with the villain who it seems loves Alicia more than Grant does. 
Its a certified Hitchcock classic and the best of his 3 with Bergman in the 1940s. SPELLBOUND has its moments but is not quite as good, and I am one of the few who quite like a lot of UNDER CAPRICORN in 1949, not least for Jack Cardiff's photography, and I now like the 1950 STAGE FRIGHT a lot, even if minor Hitchcock - great cast of British players and Marlene plus that fake flashback ... before his great run of 1950s movies. 

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