Many of the people who follow this space came here for the reviews of the 1001 movies, which makes it a bit sad that we’ve been neglecting it over the past couple of months. But we come back today with a cracker: Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious! Though reportedly not his favorite film, this one was perfectly timed: less than a year after the dropping of the first atomic bombs on Japan, here’s the master of suspense with a film about Nazis in Brazil looking to build their own. Perfection.
The setup becomes complicated when they fall in love because the assignment means that Bergman’s character has to seduce one of the Nazis, and she’s gone and fallen in love with Cary Grant (I suspect that falling in love with Cary Grant was a common affliction in the forties), who has also fallen for her.
The only bad part of the film is that the whole stoic acceptance of duty and not talking about how they each feel about the other stretches the suspension of disbelief a little far and makes you want to hit them with their own hats. But other than that, it’s a fun little romp and love story where good triumphs because good people risk their lives to ensure it.
It seems the exiled Nazi theme was popular immediately post war. Hollywood, as always, was perfectly happy to make a buck by exploiting the fears of the common man. Interestingly, the uranium that plays such a critical role in Notorious was in the script from the beginning, long before it was widely known that it could be used for atomic weapons.
This one is highly recommended. My wife, who regularly falls asleep during viewings of the 1001 films list, was on the edge of her seat the whole time, anxious as hell to know what happens next. Not all that usual for a film from seventy years ago.
Finally, our tradition of finding something unique or interesting about the film continues because of the presence of Fay Baker. You see, apart from being an accomplished actress, Baker, it seems, wrote novels under the pseudonym Beth Holmes. As a writer myself, I’m always happy to see that other people (Hollywood actors in this case) manage to understand that writing, even with all its heartbreak, is still better than the day job.
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine novelist and short story writer. His latest novel is Incursion.