What a film. What a film! Tonight's Saturday Night Cinema is a masterpiece. It is as much a romance as it a spy thriller. Under the sublime direction of Alfred Hitchcock, it features exquisite performances by Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant and Claude Rains in a romantic espionage. The chemistry between Bergman and Grant is electrifying. The love scense are so intense.
New York Times review by Bosley Crowther, August 16, 1946
It is obvious that Alfred Hitchcock, Ben Hecht and Ingrid Bergman form a team of motion-picture makers that should be publicly and heavily endowed. For they were the ones most responsible for "Spellbound," as director, writer and star, and now they have teamed together on another taut, superior film. It goes by the name of "Notorious" and it opened yesterday at the Music Hall. With Cary Grant as an additional asset, it is one of the most absorbing pictures of the year.
For Mr. Hecht has written and Mr. Hitchcock has directed in brilliant style a romantic melodrama which is just about as thrilling as they come—velvet smooth in dramatic action, sharp and sure in its characters and heavily charged with the intensity of warm emotional appeal. As a matter of fact, the distinction of "Notorious" as a film is the remarkable blend of love story with expert "thriller" that it represents.
Actually, the "thriller" elements are familiar and commonplace, except in so far as Mr. Hitchcock has galvanized them into life. They comprise the routine ingredients of a South American Nazi-exile gang, an American girl set to spy upon it and a behind-the-scenes American intelligence man. And the crux of the melodramatic action is the peril of the girl when the nature of her assignment is discovered by one of the Nazis whom she has wed.
But the rare quality of the picture is in the uncommon character of the girl and in the drama of her relations with the American intelligence man. For here Mr. Hecht and Mr. Hitchcock have done a forthright and daring thing; they have made the girl, played by Miss Bergman, a lady of notably loose morals. She is the logically cynical daughter of a convicted American traitor when she is pressed into this job of high-echelon spying by the confident espionage man. The complication is that she and the latter fall passionately and genuinely in love before the demands of her assignment upon her seductive charms are revealed. And thus the unpleasant suspicions and the lacerated feelings of the two as they deal with this dangerous major problem form the emotional drama of the film.
Obviously, that situation might seem slightly old-fashioned, too. But Mr. Hecht and Mr. Hitchcock have here treated it with sophistication and irony. There is nothing unreal or puritanical in their exposure of a frank, grown-up amour. And Miss Bergman and Mr. Grant have played it with surprising and disturbing clarity. We do not recall a more conspicuous—yet emotionally delicate—love scene on the screen than one stretch of billing and cooing that the principals play in this film. Yet, withal, there is rich and real emotion expressed by Miss Bergman in her role, and the integrity of her nature as she portrays it is the prop that holds the show.
Mr. Grant, who is exceptionally solid, is matched for acting honors in the cast by Claude Rains as the Nazi big-wig, to whom Miss Bergman becomes attached. Mr. Rains' shrewd and tense performance of this invidious character is responsible for much of the anguish that the situation creates. Reinhold Schunzel and Ivan Triesault are good, too, as Nazi worms, and a splendid touch of chilling arrogance as a German mother is added by Madame Konstantin. Louis Calhern and Moroni Olsen are fine in minor American roles.
Check up another smash hit for a fine and experienced team.
On the stage at the Music Hall is a revue spectacle entitled "Colorama," featuring Estelle Sloan, Joyce Renee, Bob Williams, Rabana Hasburgh and Charles Laskey, the Corps de Ballet, Glee Cluo and Rockettes.
NOTORIOUS; screen play by Ben Hecht; directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock for RKO-Radio Pictures. At the Radio City Music Hall.
Devlin . . . . . Cary Grant
Alicia Huberman . . . . . Ingrid Bergman
Alexander Sebastian . . . . . Claude Rains
Paul Prescott . . . . . Louis Calhern
Mme. Sebastian . . . . . Madame Konstantin
"Dr. Anderson" . . . . . Reinhold Schunzel
Walter Beardsley . . . . . Moroni Olsen
Eric Mathis . . . . . Ivan Triesault
Joseph . . . . . Alex Minotis
Mr. Hopkins . . . . . Wally Brown
Commodore . . . . . Sir Charles Mendl