Last night on Turner Classic Movies played the Hitchcock film, "Notorious
", a WWII spy thriller set in Rio de Janeiro. I had seen it once before, many years ago.
In the film, I thought that Cary Grant's character, T. R. Devlin, was a total dickhead. As a mater of fact, all of the Americans in the film were sanctimonious, holier-than-thou dickheads. From the very beginning of the film Grant's character is looking down his nose at the "loose" morals and carefree lifestyle of Ingrid Bergman's character. He says that he loves her in the beginning of the story, but treats her like dirt throughout the rest of the film.
On the other hand, It was difficult not to fall in love with Ingrid Bergman's character: fun-loving, German-born, daughter-of-a-convicted-Nazi Alicia Huberman. Her provocative romantic scenes were naughty fräulein, double-agent delicious!
And you had to love the Nazis. The Nazis were great! My favorite scene (part 6
) was after one of the mousier Nazis, Emil Hupka, accidentally tips off Alicia Huberman to an important clue as to their nefarious plans at a dinner party. The other Nazis plot his demise behind his back over coffee and cigars in a wonderfully cold and calculated fashion. (Nazi Eric Mathis has a special road trip for Emil all worked out... "Nonsense! I'd love to go. Come on, Emil...")
Later in the film Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) marries the head Nazi (Claude Rains as Alexander Sebastian) to get information that will help the Americans. Devlin (Cary Grant) gets all weepy and pouty with jealousy. The ensuing Ménage à trois left me wanting to rescue Ingrid Bergman from both the evil Nazi Claude Rains and
the sanctimonious Cary Grant.
Once Claude Rains figures out that Ingrid Bergman is an American spy, he goes to pieces. He is not afraid of the Americans, but his fellow Nazis! He fears that he will share the same fate as poor Emil Hupka did at the hands of Eric Mathis.
And who helps the evil mastermind out of this jam? His dear old mother! She gets the idea to slowly poison Ingrid Bergman so that no one will suspect the reason for her demise. (It's so deliciously Morticia Addams!)
Hitchcock is often accused of being misogynistic towards women in his films, but in "Notorious" the women are not only the strongest characters - they are also the most likable. (How can you not love a mother that helps you poison your wife so that your Nazi henchmen won't kill you?)
Claude Rains was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film, but I don't think he was a very believable evil mastermind - and he just looked kind of short and old as Ingrid Bergman's husband. I think he was far better as Vichy Police Captain Louis Renault in the film "Casablanca".
In the beginning of the film, Bergman's character prophetically says this about Grant's characters patriotism: "Waving the flag with one hand and picking pockets with the other, that's your 'patriotism'".
(good line! Gotta make a note...)
You can read more about the film at these links: Wikipedia, Turner Classic Movies, IMDB