Notorious - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Notorious Reviews

Page 2 of 87
May 17, 2016
Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious is one of the all time greats. It has everything right, and is a fine example of 1940s film-noir.

Part of the reasons for this success is the chemistry between the two leads, Ingrid Bergman as Alicia Huberman and Cary Grant as Devlin. Bergman and Grant's characters have an interesting and realistic relationship. They genuinely love each other and they're not afraid to embrace this. And when it comes down to the suspenseful climax where Alicia is at her weakest, Grant portrays Devlin with a nervous look in his eye that flickers all over the room and his creased forehead beautifully reflects Devlin's concern. During this scene Bergman is a sad sight to see, after being put through very disparate times by her country, and her bosses. She looks as though she's about to faint, staring nervously towards the exit and crumpled in Grant's arm. But great acting isn't limited to this scene of course. Grant gives a superb performance as Devlin throughout the film, analysing every situation intensely, but the greatest performance is definitely Bergman's. You can't help but feel bad for her character-she just met the man of her dreams, when suddenly his bosses force her into a dangerous marriage to the antagonist of the piece (more on that later). Not only is there complex characterisation to be achieved already but at the start of the picture she has to play someone who's insanely drunk, without touching a drop herself. She nailed it. She had a lazy eye and her words were completely disoriented. The phrases were timed in a very peculiar method that works only through precise timing. She doesn't stumble and spit her words out as a lesser actress might, opting instead to walk with a mild limp and a terrifying, and somewhat attractive glint in her eye. A superb performance.

In every great film-noir you'll have a great villain. Usually someone quite menacing to watch, however in this film they have Alexander Sebastian, one of the great movie villains of the 1940s. And he's not great due to any real menace. He's great because he's a real person. He's on the wrong side. He's a controlling and manipulative husband. He has flaws. Everyone does. He's also madly in love with Alicia. He's only controlling of Alicia because he's jealous of her obvious attraction to Devlin. Everything he does to harm anyone he does out of fear. He's a very sympathetic antagonist, and not least because of Claude Rains' pitch perfect performance. When he sees Alicia and Devlin engaged in a passionate kiss across the room he feels self-pity, as reflected by a very crestfallen look from Rains. You feel bad for him because whilst he's on what may be regarded as the wrong side, it's because he genuinely believes in it. He's a tragic figure, but it's very good that his fate is left ambiguous. We don't know what happened to him and we have to decide for ourselves whether we think he escaped, got killed, pardoned, arrested-there's no way to find out for sure.

When it comes to sublime direction there's no one who is more notorious for consistent achievement than the great Alfred Hitchcock. Over 50 years after his last great film he is a household name. And in this film he earns his reputation. Every shot in the film comes from thought and gives the audience results. From his disorienting twisting of the camera during Bergman's first hangover to the blurred imagery when Bergman's character is at her weakest towards the end, every shot reveals something about the characters and how they're feeling, and the creative angles and camera movements come courtesy of cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff. Also, the way he creates suspense deserves special mention. Where most directors will create tension through clear threat of violence, Hitchcock opts to make mundane things like a wine bottle falling off a shelf or being carried across a room the most terrifying and gripping events that could ever happen. This film really shows his creativity, and his knack for giving viewers something extremely unexpected and through this creates genuine tension.

Ben Hecht's screenplay for this film deserves mention. Every one of the aforementioned moments of suspense came from his script. (Although it is true that Hitchcock was a screenplay contributor) Every line is there for a reason, sometimes for comments on alcoholism in our lives (mainly through Bergman's character), sometimes hints at what future plot or character developments are ahead, and sometimes it contributes to the love triangle between Alicia, Devlin and Alexander. Hecht's plot twist are unpredictable and every one of his characters is multi-faceted and layered like an onion.

In conclusion, Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious is a great film-noir, with brilliant character based drama, wonderful suspense and pitch perfect romance. Highly recommended that anyone wasting their time with this review goes and watches this masterpiece.
Super Reviewer
½ April 9, 2016
Despite a forced romance that comes out of nowhere and how the protagonist's motivations are not really convincing (especially with all that misogyny towards her), it has a wonderful direction and becomes extremely suspenseful after a while, with its two leads in great performances.
February 20, 2016
Often Hitchcock romances are an unnecessary shoe-in, a diversion at best and a tedious obstruction at worst; here it is essential, as tightly interwoven into the thriller as Hitchcock's deft camerawork. The latter is also more seamless than in his earlier work, his trademark flourishes no longer experimental, but perfected; he has fully matured as a filmmaker and this is the start of his greatest run of efforts. After being constrained in Spellbound, this time out for the director Bergman gets to develop one of his strongest heroines, although it's Claude Rains who steals the second half of the movie with typically devilish brilliance (surely an exemplar for the great crime drama performances of the years to come).
January 22, 2016
Alfred Hitchcock made a number of my favorite movies but I think this might be the best of them all. If you want to know your creator and are curious about who he is and what he's up to these days this movie could help provide some clues.
December 20, 2015
Notorious is my second favorite Hitchcock film right behind Psycho.
December 10, 2015
One of the great ones, an amazing and taut story in a compact package, with two great performances.
½ October 22, 2015
Subverting all expectations, the master of suspense has once again explored the viewers' desire for perversion to offer one of the most staggering depictions of love to ever grace the silver screen. And Bergman, well, she is, indeed, an unstoppable and notorious force.
½ October 9, 2015
It takes a while for this Hitchcock film to get rolling with his expected suspense work, but that's not a mark against the fantastic actors.
September 6, 2015
Wonderful performances matched with fantastic directing, this Hitchcock film still uses suspense, but focuses more on the intriguing love triangle.
May 18, 2015
Ingrid Bergman is amazing in Hitchcock's thriller of espionage.
April 11, 2015
I knew that Hitchcock could build suspense, but I was unaware of his ability to tell a ravishing love story. Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant give fantastic performances, to drive home an excellent Hitchcock film. A thoroughly enjoyable oldie.
March 11, 2015
one of my besties of my besties: thrill and romance, in chemistry ,are perfectly concocted, the tensions are well develop, like one of the 'stairs scene'. the artistry is undeniable and thematic.
March 2, 2015
Revolting piece of American propaganda.
January 20, 2015
Espias enamorados Grant y Bergman en unos roles convincentes ademàs del estupendo Claude Rains , en este inolvidable thriller.
January 6, 2015
My least favorite Hitchcock film starring Ingrid Bergman. Grand and Rains are wonderful in there roles but i felt like the suspense element was not up to par.
December 15, 2014
Great film, with masterful shots and vivid direction.
½ November 28, 2014
My favorite Hitchcock film I think. It was not as dark as some of his others, however very intense. The two main actors have great chemistry and I really liked the story.Very romantic and I love the ending too!
Page 2 of 87