Notorious: Celebrating the Ingrid Bergman Centenary: “Notorious” (1946) ★★★★★


Every time I watch a movie from the Golden Age of Hollywood, I start thinking of how much we have lost nowadays. There are no such movies anymore where an innocent touch and gentle kiss can make two people fall madly for each other, and next day to lose their minds. This is what happens in NOTORIOUS, when a woman named Alicia Huberman is asked to spy on a group of Nazi friends in South America. An American officer, Devlin (Cary Grant) is assigned to work closely with a young woman, but crosses the line between duty and love. Even though the two fall for each other, they still try to concentrate on their task, forgetting that no matter how smart you are, never try to outsmart a wise man… Especially when the only thing you have in your mind is love….

1946, Miami, Florida. Alicia is the only representative from her family who did not end up in jail for spying against America. With a broken heart she watches how her father is sentenced to twenty years in prison for spying for the Germans. Taking advantage of her vulnerability, and overdosing with alcohol, an American Agency with the help of Devlin recruits the young woman to spy on a very reach man, Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), who used to be a friend of her father… By the time she gets closer to her target, Alicia is already in love with the young officer, who tries to keep his feelings a secret as he is afraid it might interfere with the ongoing investigation…

The interesting and the most emotional part of the film begins when Alexander starts questioning Alicia about the feelings she might have for a young man, Devlin. When she denies the obvious, Alexander asks her to prove it by getting married to him instead. And of course, in order to maintain better relationship and uncover a group of Nazi friends in South America, Alicia agrees to tie the knot with Alexander… in order to prove him that she has no feelings towards Devlin… But the game she begins against a wise man will turn out wild, and unpredictable, because no matter how smart she is, she won’t be able to hide the truth forever… and when that day comes, even her feelings won’t help her get away with deadly outcome… or will it?

It will be unnecessary to say how well Alfred Hitchcock directed his film. The screenplay is written with such depth that the actual fire between Devlin and Alicia is shown too obvious no matter how hard they try to keep it inside. The chemistry shared between Grant and Bergman is superb, while the performance they deliver is flawless without questions. The scene in the park where they both talk is something I must say is a delight to watch. Even though Grant’s Devlin is trying to stay professional and keep talking only about business, Bergman’s Alicia, despite her health issues, provides different information where the viewer can clearly tell that she no longer can tell the difference between reality and fantasy. And this is where the ordinary part of the film turns out a masterpiece, what only Hitchcock-Bergman-Grant could have achieved….

Schedule: Sunday, August 23

Time: 3 PM

Venue: TIFF Bell Lightbox

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