With Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Louis Calhern, Leopoldine Konstantin
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

Kiss me you fool     One of Alfred Hitchcock's great masterpieces, NOTORIOUS is a study of perverse relationships disguised as a Cold War suspense thriller.  Cary Grant, in one of the few roles that allowed him to expose a dark side, is a charming but unscrupulous secret agent who coerces Ingrid Bergman into marrying Nazi leader Claude Rains for information-gathering purposes.  Grant and Bergman clearly love one another but keep their feelings hidden, lest they interfere with business.  The sexual tension between them is as palpable and steamy as the screen would allow at the time.  Grant proved himself more than adept at dark characters when the studios allowed him to play such roles, and Claude Rains is brilliant as ever in a role that elicits both repulsion and pity on the part of the viewer.  But this is Bergman's film all the way.  Playing a role that requires her to be vulnerable, stoic, playful, bawdy, repressed, duplicitous, heroic, lovesick, and physically weakened from the effects of poison, she manages to combine them all into one believable, multi-dimensional whole.  And, of course, NOTORIOUS is a tour-de-force for Hitchcock.  The film contains some of his most famous virtuoso sequences, including the crane shot down the stairs that ends with a closeup of the key in Bergman's hand, and the final slow walk down the stairs that defines what suspense is all about.  Movies don't get much better than this.   - JL

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