When I was 16, I became obsessed with classic Hollywood films, which sprung forth from a summer vacation reading and viewing of Gone With the Wind. I hopped from director to actor to genre, absorbing all I could find on particular people or subjects. Notorious combined three of my favorites: Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, and Alfred Hitchcock. When I watched it at the time, it completely knocked me over. For years and years since, I’ve proclaimed it as one of my favorite movies ever, while at the same time I’ve been slightly afraid to watch it again. Would the film still stand up years after my teenage Hollywood obsession? Hell, yeah!
Notorious is without a doubt one of the sexiest and most suspenseful movies ever made (I dare you to argue with me). Ingrid Bergman was at her most glamorous, Cary Grant was coming into his own as a romantic dramatic actor, and Alfred Hitchcock had honed his reputation as the master of suspense.
Bergman plays Alicia Huberman, daughter of a German war criminal, who is convinced by the Feds (Agent Devlin in particular, played by Cary Grant) to fulfill a task for her adopted country to show that she is a true patriot. Alicia and Devlin are sent to Rio de Janeiro, where she is to infiltrate the home of Alex Sebastian (Claude Rains), a participant in an underground Nazi international crime ring. Aaah… the good ‘ol USA just recruits a known “loose woman” to get into the bed with a Nazi to get information. Perfect. Except that of course, in the meantime, Alicia and Devlin fall in love.
One of the most famous scenes in Notorious is an amazing three-minute kiss (filmed in one shot) between Grant and Bergman. At the time, the Production Code of Hollywood was cracking down on any blatant smut in the movies, to protect the morals of the country. Though the kiss only involves whispers and lingering pecks, it is one of the steamiest moments you’ll ever see on film. Wow, is it warm in here? Sexy!
Notorious is a must-see for fans of suspense, mystery, film-noir, and romance. Take a break from modern movies, and see how it’s really done!