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Among the very best films of all time,
This review is from: Notorious (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
Easily among my Top 10 films of all time, Notorious is a stunning piece of film-making by the father of the suspense genre at the peak of his early American career.
Hitchcock had an extremely long and successful career in the movie business (directing 67 films!) and you can divide it into 4 distinct stages: his early British films (The Lodger, The 39 Steps), his early American work under David O. Selznick (Rebecca, Spellbound), the middle period with all the great Jimmy Stewart films (Rear Window, Vertigo) and the final, jarring stretch that begins with Psycho. Notorious is the best of the Selznick era and is a hallmark in Hitchcock's career and in film history.
It's the story of American secret agent T. R. Devlin (Cary Grant) and his attempt to foil Nazis who've taken up refuge in Rio De Janero after the war. His weapon is the stunning Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman), daughter of one of the former conspirators. The plan is to have her reignite an old flame with one of the goose-steppers, Alex Sebastian (Claude Rains), infiltrate the home where he lives with his overbearing mother, and sneak out information. Unfortunately for Devlin, he falls in love with the woman that he has to push into another man's arms. And into mortal danger as well.
Criterion's recently released DVD edition is a superb restoration packed with extras on the making of the film and two excellent commentary tracks. Mariane Keane points out shot-for-shot what set Hitch ahead of his time and Rudy Behlmer (who edited the tome of Selznick memos) brings a historical perspective unequaled. You can also hear the complete Lux Radio Theatre adaptation with Bergman and Joseph Cotton from 1948. Add to this the production and promotional stills, correspondence, trailers, short story excerpts, newsreel footage, and even script excerpts that include deleted scenes and an alternate ending along with many more extras and you get a definitive look at the film and all that went into it.
Notorious is simply a movie lover's dream come true and I'm glad to say that Criterion has done an outstanding job in it's presentation.