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Notorious Criterion Blu-ray Review

Notorious.jpg

“Notorious” is a top tier Hitchcock film.

After her father (a Nazi Spy) is imprisoned for treason, Alicia is approached by an American intelligence agent (Devlin)to take on a job that requires her to spy on a ring of Nazis in Brazil. Before the assignment takes place, Alicia and Devlin begin to fall one another, but things become complicated between them when Alicia is asked to cozy up with Alex Sebastian (a Nazi/friend of her father). As Alicia goes deep undercover, not only does her her love for Devlin becomes tested, but her life is put in grave danger.

Whenever I watch “Notorious” I get something new out of it and have a different emotional experience watching it. This time around I was struck by how much of a heartbreaking romantic story it is. Imagine having to go undercover and pretend to fall in love with a bad guy while constantly thinking of the one you love. Imagine having to balance a job and a romance all while that particular romance grows more and more complicated.

I also found myself marveling at how much of a great spy movie this really is. Under Alfred Hitchcock’s masterful direction, he manages to create so much tension without actually putting much in the way of action in the film. The movie is so intense because we know what’s at stake and what could possibly happen. That’s a tough thing to pull off for any filmmaker and writer, but Alfred Hitchcock and screenwriter Ben Hecht make it look easy.

It should come as no surprise that the acting here is also excellent across the board. Cary Grant was known for his charm and charisma on screen, but he pulls back here for a more internal dramatic role. His chemistry with Ingrid Bergman is entirely believable from the start. Speaking of Bergman, she gives arguably the finest performance of her career. Since this is largely her story, she has to do a lot of the dramatic acting and she manages to make Alicia such a complex and vulnerable character. Veteran actor Claude Rains (who plays Alex Sebastian) also crushes it as per usual. One cast member who doesn’t quite get enough attention here is Leopoldine Konstantin as Alex’s creepy overbearing mother. Anytime she’s on screen she really dominates your attention.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? The B&W film definitely gets an upgrade with this Criterion release. There are certain shots that really showcase the quality of this transfer.

Audio Track: Uncompressed Mono. How does it sound? I was deeply impressed by this Mono track. The movie has never sounded better.

Extras:

* A booklet featuring an essay by Angelica Jade Bastien
* 4 “Notorious” trailers
* A 1948 radio drama adaptation of “Notorious.”
* A news reel with Hitchcock interviewing Ingrid Bergman.
* “Writing With The Camera”- A news program (complete with interviews) about the pre-production of “Notorious.”
* “Poisoned Romance”- A newly shot extra with author Donald Spoto talking about the film.
* “Glamour And Tension”- Cinematographer John Bailey talks about the visuals of “Notorious.”
* “Powerful Patterns”- Film scholar David Bordwell analyzes the great final scene.
* “Once Upon A Time…Notorious”- A French 2009 documentary that is part of the “Once Upon A Time” series. It features a wide range of interviews and dive into the making of “Notorious” and the period in which it was made.
* A 2001 commentary by Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane.
* A 1990 commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer.

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January 21, 2019 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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