Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Notorious (1946)

Today's film is Notorious, a romance film disguised as a spy caper.  Ingrid Bergman stars as Alicia, whose father has been put away for being a Nazi.  Devlin, played by Cary Grant, lets her drive drunk around town for a bit before letting her know his real intentions: he is working for a government agency and they want her help spying on some Nazis.  But, they're all the way in Brazil.

Soon, Devlin and Alicia fly to Brazil, but he hasn't told her exactly what the job will entail yet.  Before you know it, Alicia has already fallen in love with Devlin, but with the amount she drinks, anyone would probably look handsome to her.  I was so annoyed with how heavy-handed she laid on the romance.  She spoke in those long, almost breathless tones, "oohhh, Delvin,  you're so hot with your butt-chin!" Makes me want to gag.

But the plot still exists.  The government agency, the OSS, a precusor to the CIA, want Alicia to flirt with a Nazi named Alexander Sebastian, and bonus points because he already had a crush on her at one time.  Alicia is mad about this, but agrees because that's what she came here for.  She does such a good job with the flirting that Sebastian asks her to marry him.  She doesn't want to, but the OSS convinces she has to as part of the mission.  So, that's what we're doing now, marrying off women for the greater good?  If I was Alicia, I'd be like "fuck this" and jetski away.

But, Alicia does marry him and throws a party.  Since she was concerned about a servant's reaction to a wine bottle in an earlier scene, she steals the key to the wine cellar and gives it to Devlin.  After breaking a wine bottle, they are shocked that it contains sand rather than wine.  Devlin scoops some up to take it back to the lab.  Meanwhile, Alicia's husband is still jealous of him and after finding his wine cellar key gone, realizes that Alicia is an American agent.  Sebastian's mother gets the great idea to poison her to make it look like she has an illness.  There's always some wrong or evil about mothers in Hitchcock films.

So, the sand turns out to be uranium ore which surprises everyone.  Brazil has the 6th largest reserve of uranium in the world so I don't find this surprising.  The OSS tells Alicia to find out where it's mined. (um, everywhere?)  She discovers that it's in the Aimores mountains in the town of San Ma (this part gets cut off so we don't hear the rest). It's at this point as well when she realizes she's being poisoned.  All that non-stop booze drinking she does and it's coffee of all things that's making her sick.  Devlin comes to rescue her and she tells him all this.  This bothers me.  San Ma?  San nothing! San is the Spanish word for saint, but we are in Brazil, so it should be São.  I may not know a whole lot, but I do know how to speak English and Portuguese.  (I read a little Spanish, but can't speak much).  If I'm going to do anything constructive today, it's to teach some Portuguese.  For example, Devlin calls someone from the phone in the hotel and asks, "Parle Anglaise?"  The only reason I knew how to spell this is because I keep the closed captioning on.  To say, "Do you speak English?" say, "Você fala inglês?"  Let's break this down:

Vo (like Vogue without the -g sound)-say  fah-lah een-glace (like glacier without the r).  There! Now say it together!  Você fala inglês?  Not hard at all!  We hear English, Spanish and French in this film, in fact the only language never spoken in the whole film is Portuguese, which is the national language!

To top it all off, the film ends abruptly.  Devlin places Alicia into the car to take her to the hospital.  What happens after this?  Do they get married?  What if Alicia is too poisoned and won't make it?  What about all that business with the uranium sand?  Did they think I was just going to forget about that?  Absolutely nothing gets resolved in this film except Devlin succeeds in getting rid of his romantic rival so he can get the girl again.  Which proves this is a romance film above anything else.  I will give this film a 6/10.


  1. I doubt the uranium part is really important here. It is all about the triangle of Devlin, Alicia and Sebastian. This is also where my problem with this movie is. Devlin is just the most unproffesional handler ever. He convinces Alicia to be a spy, sends her into danger and then go sulking about that she does her job to the extent that brings her in mortal danger. What a dick!

    1. Devlin is the worst part of the whole movie. I actually don't like any of the characters Cary Grant plays because they're all awful.