A highly regarded film from the Master, though I feel it is deeply flawed. For all practical intents and purposes, this film was remade as* Topaz*. Both are dark, disturbing and depressing, though this one the more of the two. Although the occasional flash of brilliance was present (Young and Innocent, Rebecca, The 39 Steps), Hitch’s early career was marked by astoundingly bad editing. The early part of this film is no exception, though as the film goes on, it becomes much more tense and tightly edited. I think that this film was a great influence on Chinatown, which can be seen in themes and in Hitch’s awesome camera.
I think that Topaz was actually the better film, though Bergman and Grant’s chemistry here was better than any in Topaz. This movie is very claustrophobic, whereas Topaz was a lot more expansive.

The flaws come, I feel, primarily from the bad editing in the beginning, and the rather loose script. Compare the action and scripting to the tightly plotted remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much. Notorious, however, does stand as a an interesting landmark in the development of the directorial genius of the finest filmmaker to ever live.
Is it just me, or was Sebastian’s house also the Bullock estate form My Man Godfrey?

lissener! I have been trying to email you for days, but they bounce back saying your account is over quota. I just wanted you too know I’m not mad at you, or anything.


Notorious is one of my least favorite Hitchcocks. I love the opening party, where Ingrid is something of a bad girl, while the mysterious silhouette observes her. But it’s mostly downhill from there for me.

The opening scene is an example of the choppy editing and bad scripting I was talking about. You have no idea what’s going on.

But sometimes choppy editing is good. At any rate, I’m so intrigued by Ingrid’s character–and the mysterious observer–that I don’t think I considered the editing the last time I saw Notorious. I mean come on, Ingrid Bergman as a glamorous drunk, in a tropical setting, the daughter of a traitor; being observed by a faceless stranger in the shadows. Promises a lot more than it delivers.

And I don’t remember the Sebastion estate, though I recently rewatched Godfrey; a lot of those “how the other half lives” stage sets were pretty interchangeable, IMHO, so even if it wasn’t the same exact location, I’m sure they were very, very similar.

I really love this movie. I like the fact that you’re thrown in over your head at the beginning of the film and have to figure out what to do. But mostly I love the cat and mouse stuff, esp. during the party. Hitchcock is masterful here in building the tension as high as it could go. The performances are fantastic, not only by the leads, but even in the smaller parts, like the look on the Nazi’s face when Claude Rains scrabbles desparately to get in the car with Grant and Bergman, only to then turn back to the house. Plus, c’mon, who can reject the film after hearing the immortal line: “We are protected by the enormity of your stupidity.”


Ilsa, for saying one of Hitch’s least effective efforts is better than Notorious, you will be condemned to watch Topaz repeatedly in the afterlife. :slight_smile:

Notorious is one of Hitchcock’s best, featuring a superbly realized villain in Claude Rains and a memorably disfunctional relationship between Bergman and Grant.

Alicia is one of the great Hitchcock heroines, a woman who starts out as a total wreck because her father was a Nazi. Paradoxically she regains her self-respect by following in her father’s footsteps – but as a spy for the US. Devlin, the rather ambigous male lead, spends most of the movie asking her to do terrible things for her country and then hating her for it.

It has a great script by Ben Hecht, the classic champagne/key scene, and a one of the all-time screen kisses: what’s not to like?

Don’t get me wrong, I loved this movie! But:

I thought this was poorly executed, and very clumsy, as opposed to intriguing.

And I don’t mind being condemned to watch Topaz, I liked it.
The dialogue was witty here, too. The low key ending was not as effective here as in the birds. lissener nailed it with “Promises more than it delivers.”

I love Vertigo more than any other Hitch, so you may discount my opinion anyway. But I am the OP, by god! :smiley:

“I love the opening party, where Ingrid is something of a bad girl, while the mysterious silhouette observes her. But it’s mostly downhill from there for me.”
My reaction was pretty much the opposite. I thought Bergman was totally unconvincing in the begining as a “bad girl”. In fact I almost stopped watching the film fifteen minutes in. However she grew in to the role. Overall I have to agree it’s one of Hitch’s best (though I happen to think he is a rather overrated director). Many of the later sequences are brilliant: the Unica key, the coffee poisoning and the ending. The script is also more solid than some of Hitch’s later efforts like NBNW and The Birds.

I agree with the first part of that, Cyber, but I don’t feel that it is one of his greater efforts.

And a lynch mob with pitchforks and torches will be along shortly for the other comment.

Yes! That seems to me to illustrate a more sophisticated understanding of the human heart than you see in most films.