Wednesday, August 22, 2012

51. Notorious (1946)

Last week I went to the BFI Southbank to see Notorious (1946) by Alfred Hitchhock.  The British Film Institute (BFI) is currently celebrating the 'Genius of Hitchcock festival' showcasing some of the Master of Suspense's work.  For those unfamiliar with Hitchcock his most famous movies include, Psycho, The Birds, Marine, Rear Window and Vertigo.  He has many other amazing films, mixing suspense and humour, such as, Strangers on a Train (1951) - remade by Danny DiVitto as Throw mamma from the train (1987), The Trouble with Harry (1955) and the Rope (1948).  Hitchcock is considered to be one of the movie greats, having moved from silent film to modern cinema, influencing directors and filmmakers around the world.  I've been looking for an opportunity to include a Hitchcock movie and Notorious seemed like an opportune movie.  

The movie is a film noir thriller, combining suspense with romance.  The film begins with the trial and conviction of Mr Huberman for treason (a law connection).  Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman), his daughter, is contacted by Devlin (Cary Grant) and asked to go to Brazil to spy on Nazi friends of her father's.  US secret agents want to know what the Nazis are doing in Rio.  Alicia agrees to fly to Rio and soon Devlin and Alicia begin a passionate affair unaware of the details of the task.  However, Alicia must use her female charms to get herself into the close circle of Alexander Sebastian placing her love and her life at risk.

According to the BFI website Hitchcock was often demanding and cruel to his actresses.  His on screen portrayal of women and the brutal treatment of females led to charges of misogyny.  Ingrid Bergman, remembered most famously for her role in Casablanca, acted for Hitchcock three times (in Spellbound (1945) and Under Capricorn (1949).  However, due to an affair with Rossellini, Bergman was effectively banned from Hollywood for a number of years.  

A number of Americans were prosecuted following the end of the Second World War for treason following their participation in the Third Reich.  For example, Mildred Gillars and Rita Zucca, known as Axis Sallys, were American broadcasters were employed to disseminate Nazi propaganda.  They were arrested and prosecuted for treason. 

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