Notorious /A,B

Anchor Bay/1946/102m/FS 1.33/BW

        Watching a classic like Notorious  on DVD is pure pleasure. I found myself melting into the smooth, film-like images, succumbing to 1940s sophistication under Hitchcockís mastery. Made in 1946, the black and white exercise in romantic espionage is a beautifully composed and photographed film. It appears that the digital magic wand was passed over the film elements with some frequency resulting in a relatively clean image that is slightly soft in some scenes. Overall, the relative cleanliness of the DVD is worth the sacrifice of some detail. In fact, thematically, the softer image works to advantage in this world of spies and agents lending their weight to great screen romance. The accolade film-like is a powerful compliment in home video. Notorious  does its best to preserve the allusion. Film grain is fine and consistent. Contrast is powerful yet never blown out. Even the rear screen work, which often presents problems in transfer to DVD, looks very good. I forgive the couple lapses in condition of the source material. The DVD transfer should not distract you from the power of the story and filmmaking. The sound is clean enough, though there is a momentary lapse in one of the scenes between Devlin and Prescott where the level and tone changes. 

Seduction or recruitment? ©Anchor Bay

     So, whatís Notorious  all about? Alicia Huberman is a girl traveling in the fast lane. When her father is convicted of espionage against the United States, American agent Devlin recruits her to go undercover against Nazis plotting in Rio de Janeiro. Devlinís charms and Aliciaís vulnerability strike a bond. Alicia falls hard for Devlin, while the agentís cynical side tries to keep him from falling for the beautiful damsel. The screen sizzles with the sparks from these two. Nothing can stop them from making a match, not the Nazis, not the movie censors, not even the devious script of veteran Ben Hecht. 
     In Rio, the inevitable happens. Falling in love in Rio is marvelous without being obvious. But this isnít just a romance. When her undercover assignment is presented to her, Alicia must make the hard decision to give up Devlin for the oily attention of Alex Sebastian. Under the hostile stares of Sebastianís mother, Alicia marries Sebastian and keeps her eyes open for anything of importance to report to Devlin. 
     Notorious  is one of Alfred Hitchcockís most successful films. Itís economy of style and direct approach is reflected in the gem-cut dialog. Hard, clipped, suggestive and incisive, Ben Hechtís script marries romance and suspense to perfection. The characters and relationships are well drawn, the pace deliberately accelerating. 
     The screen chemistry between stars Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant is nothing shy of perfect. These actors conjure up more erotic images with their eyes than modern stars manage with their body assets fully exposed. Bergman delves into Aliciaís pain and explores her hopes. I canít imagine the actress looking more beautiful than under cinematographer Ted Tetzlaffís soft, caressing lighting. Grant fascinates both the audience and Alicia as he holds back and resists the charms of the lady and his own romantic impulses. Grant paints Devlin as cynic and romantic. The actor presents a picture of sophistication and honesty on the screen. You can believe in him just as Alicia believes in him. Hitchcock sets the stage for his actors to shine in beautiful close-ups and intimate two-shots. The directorís timing is perfect in Notorious . The supporting actors led by Claude Rains, surround Grant and Bergman with a rich world built by character. Rains is dangerous and doting, suspicious and amorous. Louis Calhern adds some additional sophistication to the American side of the picture as Devlinís boss Prescott. 
     The DVD packaging is bare bones, but the 18 chapters are ample and the black and white cover art presents an accurate feeling of the film. Fans of romance will love Notorious  for the beautiful love scenes. Suspense addicts will get their charge as the tension builds. Movie lovers get everything they can ask for in this DVD of Notorious .

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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