Notorious


1h 43m 1946
Notorious

Brief Synopsis

A U.S. agent recruits a German expatriate to infiltrate a Nazi spy ring in Brazil.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Thriller
Spy
Release Date
Sep 6, 1946
Premiere Information
New York opening: 15 Aug 1946; Los Angeles opening: 22 Aug 1946
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,130ft

Synopsis

After her Nazi father is convicted of treason by a Miami, Florida jury, German-born Alicia Huberman tries to forget her pain by throwing a loud party and flirting with uninvited guest T. R. Devlin. Late that evening, an intoxicated Alicia takes Devlin on a drive and is stopped for speeding by a motorcycle officer. When Devlin flashes his official credentials, however, the officer allows Alicia to go without a ticket. Alicia, who has been hounded by reporters and police, is infuriated at Devlin and denounces him as a double-crossing "cop." Although Devlin disapproves of Alicia's self-destructive, promiscuous life style, he is confident of her patriotic feelings toward America, having heard secretly recorded comments she has made, and offers her a job infiltrating a Nazi industrial combine in Brazil. The embittered Alicia at first rejects Devlin's offer, but eventually agrees to accompany him to Rio de Janeiro. While waiting for her assignment, Alicia enjoys a romantic, carefree week in Rio and proudly tells Devlin she is a changed woman. Devlin is skeptical about her reformation, but nonetheless finds himself falling in love with her. The couple's newfound bliss is shortlived, however, as Devlin's boss, Paul Prescott, informs him that Alicia's assignment is to woo her former suitor, German-born Alexander Sebastian, and determine what his war machine combine is manufacturing. Although Alicia is conflicted, Devlin refuses to tell her what to do, and believing that he doesn't truly love her, she accepts the assignment. Devlin, in turn, views Alicia's acceptance as proof of her fickleness. As pre-arranged, Alicia encounters Alex while riding in a park and encourages him to pursue her. At a dinner party at Alex's home, Alicia notices one of the guests, Emil Hupka, gesture nervously at a wine bottle sitting on a mantle. Later, Alex and his other male guests discuss Hupka's improper dinner behavior and agree that he must be eliminated, a job the sinister Eric Mathis eagerly assumes. Soon after, Alicia reports to Devlin, who is posing as a public relations representative, at a Rio racetrack and tells him with sarcasm that the lovestruck Alex is her new "playmate." Devlin reacts to the remark with disgust, but easily plays the part of Alicia's rejected lover in front of Alex. When a jealous Alex then questions Alicia about Devlin, she reassures him that the handsome American "means nothing" to her. A short time later, Alicia pays an unexpected call on Prescott and Devlin and informs them that Alex has proposed to her. Although stunned by the news, Devlin once again refuses to interfere, and a heartbroken Alicia agrees to the marriage. After a brief honeymoon, the newlyweds return to Alex's house, where his domineering mother Anna views her new daughter-in-law with jealous disdain. Alicia immediately inspects the layout of the house and learns from butler Joseph that only Alex has the key to the house's large wine cellar. Some days later, Devlin instructs Alicia to throw a party and secure the key long enough for him to investigate the wine cellar. Before the party, Alicia sneaks the wine cellar key off Alex's key ring and later passes it to Devlin. Alicia then slips away from Alex's watchful eye and accompanies Devlin to the cellar, where they discover that one of the bottles contains not wine, but a mineral substance. When Devlin accidentally drops the bottle, Alicia quickly drains a similar bottle and helps him pour the spilled contents into it. As they are leaving the cellar, Alex approaches with Joseph, and Devlin kisses Alicia to distract him. Although Alex falls for the ruse at first, he soon notices that his cellar key is missing. Early the next morning, after he finds the key back on his ring and discovers that the bottle has been tampered with, he deduces Alicia's true mission and informs his mother. The quick thinking Anna declares that to keep Alex's slip from their ruthless group, they must slowly poison Alicia. Over the next few weeks, Alicia grows sicker from Anna's poison, which is placed in Alicia's coffee. At their next meeting, Prescott informs Alicia that the mineral substance is uranium and asks her to find out where the group is mining it. He also tells Alicia that Devlin has requested a transfer, a fact Devlin denies when he next meets with her. Instead, Devlin questions Alicia about her obvious illness and believes her when she claims she has a hangover. Later, however, when she fails to show up for their next meeting, Devlin realizes that Alicia was really ill. Alicia, in turn, deduces what Alex and Anna are doing to her, as well as the location of the mine, but is now too weak to escape. With Prescott's backing, Devlin goes to Alex's house to rescue Alicia, confident that the Nazi will not try to stop him in front of the group. Although sedated, Alicia is overjoyed to see Devlin, and they confess their love for each other. As Devlin carries Alicia to his car, a helpless Alex announces to his suspicious comrades that he is taking Alicia to the hospital. When Devlin calmly refuses to allow Alex in the car, however, the Nazi's blunder is revealed, and his fate, sealed.

Photo Collections

Notorious - Behind-the-Scenes Stills
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of RKO's Notorious (1946), starring Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant, and directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Notorious - Movie Poster
Here is an original-release half-sheet movie poster for Notorious (1946), starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, and directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Half-sheets measured 22 x 28 inches.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Thriller
Spy
Release Date
Sep 6, 1946
Premiere Information
New York opening: 15 Aug 1946; Los Angeles opening: 22 Aug 1946
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,130ft

Award Nominations

Best Supporting Actor

1946
Claude Rains

Best Writing, Screenplay

1947

Articles

The Essentials - Notorious


SYNOPSIS

A federal agent enlists the daughter of a convicted traitor in a plan to infiltrate a group of escaped Nazis in South America. The mission proves to be successful, but her forced marriage to one of the Nazis threatens both her love affair with the U.S. agent and her life.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Producer: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Ben Hecht
Cinematography: Ted Tetzlaff
Editing: Theron Warth
Art Direction: Carroll Clark, Albert D'Agostino
Original Music: Roy Webb
Cast: Cary Grant (T.R. Devlin), Ingrid Bergman (Alicia Huberman), Claude Rains (Alexander Sebastian), Leopoldine Konstantin (Madame Sebastian), Louis Calhern (Prescott).
BW-101m.

Why NOTORIOUS is Essential

Always a manipulator of audience perceptions and expectations, director Alfred Hitchcock did a pretty audacious thing for 1945 (the year production on this film began) - right at the end of World War II, he created a sympathetic Nazi character in a romantic thriller involving German fascists living secretly in South America. Not that Hitchcock portrays the activities and philosophies of the Nazis in a positive light or makes Sebastian (played by Claude Rains) the "hero" of the story. That distinction goes to Cary Grant as FBI agent T.R. Devlin, and there again, our sympathies are toyed with. Assigned to enlist the American-born daughter (Ingrid Bergman) of a Nazi war criminal in a plot to trap the Germans, Devlin often appears cagey, tight, bitter, and apparently insensitive to the young woman's feelings and the danger she's in. On the other hand, Sebastian is shown to be a cultured man who truly loves her, a put-upon, almost tender man with a domineering mother, fatally betrayed by the one person he cares most about. At the end of the movie, you almost feel sorry for the Nazi.

Manipulating audience expectation is not the only thing that makes Notorious quintessential Hitchcock. There are the technical hallmarks - an incredible zoom-in from a high crane shot to an extreme close-up of a key in Bergman's hand, a famous kissing scene (designed to get around censor objections) with Grant and Bergman nibbling away at each other while talking about food, the suspenseful tracking and intercutting of the final scene.

Here also are prime early examples of some trademark Hitchcock themes and motifs - a woman complicitous in her forced transformation to a different person, later brought to its most obsessive heights in Vertigo (1958); the figure of the mother both adoring and deadly, who appears in various forms in Strangers on a Train (1951), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), and Marnie (1964). And, of course, the "MacGuffin," Hitchcock's narrative gimmick that motivates the characters' behavior (a search for a secret formula, an impending assassination) but is of secondary interest to the audience.

Notorious was the first true love story Hitchcock made, rich in passion, deception, reversals, and obsession. It was the significant start of his exploration of the themes, relationships, and techniques that would mark his mature work for the remainder of his career.

by Rob Nixon
The Essentials - Notorious

The Essentials - Notorious

SYNOPSIS A federal agent enlists the daughter of a convicted traitor in a plan to infiltrate a group of escaped Nazis in South America. The mission proves to be successful, but her forced marriage to one of the Nazis threatens both her love affair with the U.S. agent and her life. Director: Alfred Hitchcock Producer: Alfred Hitchcock Screenplay: Ben Hecht Cinematography: Ted Tetzlaff Editing: Theron Warth Art Direction: Carroll Clark, Albert D'Agostino Original Music: Roy Webb Cast: Cary Grant (T.R. Devlin), Ingrid Bergman (Alicia Huberman), Claude Rains (Alexander Sebastian), Leopoldine Konstantin (Madame Sebastian), Louis Calhern (Prescott). BW-101m. Why NOTORIOUS is Essential Always a manipulator of audience perceptions and expectations, director Alfred Hitchcock did a pretty audacious thing for 1945 (the year production on this film began) - right at the end of World War II, he created a sympathetic Nazi character in a romantic thriller involving German fascists living secretly in South America. Not that Hitchcock portrays the activities and philosophies of the Nazis in a positive light or makes Sebastian (played by Claude Rains) the "hero" of the story. That distinction goes to Cary Grant as FBI agent T.R. Devlin, and there again, our sympathies are toyed with. Assigned to enlist the American-born daughter (Ingrid Bergman) of a Nazi war criminal in a plot to trap the Germans, Devlin often appears cagey, tight, bitter, and apparently insensitive to the young woman's feelings and the danger she's in. On the other hand, Sebastian is shown to be a cultured man who truly loves her, a put-upon, almost tender man with a domineering mother, fatally betrayed by the one person he cares most about. At the end of the movie, you almost feel sorry for the Nazi. Manipulating audience expectation is not the only thing that makes Notorious quintessential Hitchcock. There are the technical hallmarks - an incredible zoom-in from a high crane shot to an extreme close-up of a key in Bergman's hand, a famous kissing scene (designed to get around censor objections) with Grant and Bergman nibbling away at each other while talking about food, the suspenseful tracking and intercutting of the final scene. Here also are prime early examples of some trademark Hitchcock themes and motifs - a woman complicitous in her forced transformation to a different person, later brought to its most obsessive heights in Vertigo (1958); the figure of the mother both adoring and deadly, who appears in various forms in Strangers on a Train (1951), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), and Marnie (1964). And, of course, the "MacGuffin," Hitchcock's narrative gimmick that motivates the characters' behavior (a search for a secret formula, an impending assassination) but is of secondary interest to the audience. Notorious was the first true love story Hitchcock made, rich in passion, deception, reversals, and obsession. It was the significant start of his exploration of the themes, relationships, and techniques that would mark his mature work for the remainder of his career. by Rob Nixon

Pop Culture 101 - Notorious


The story was performed over the airwaves on the Lux Radio Theater in 1948. Ingrid Bergman reprised her role and Joseph Cotten, with whom she was filming Hitchcock's Under Capricorn (1949), played Cary Grant's role.

The first German version of the movie, called White Poison and released in 1951, was dubbed to eliminate any reference to World War II and the Third Reich. Instead of Nazis, the plot dealt with international drug smugglers. Notorious begins with the title: "Miami, Florida, 3:20 p.m., April 20, 1946," a very specific bit of information that adds little to our understanding or appreciation of the story. Hitchcock used the same time and date specificity at the beginning of Psycho (1960).

The poisoned drink, only suspected in Suspicion (1941) and Spellbound (1945), becomes a real threat to Bergman's life in Notorious. The scene where Grant and Bergman kiss while discussing the chicken she will make for dinner is echoed later in To Catch a Thief (1955). Grace Kelly seduces Grant while discussing poultry, asking if he prefers legs to breasts.

The scene where Alex Sebastian and his mother argue about the house keys behind closed doors is reminiscent of the scenes of Norman Bates arguing with his mother (in fact, himself), also shot outside her bedroom door. In fact, the domineering mother in Notorious prefigures many such characters in Hitchcock's films, including The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964).

The Saturday Evening Post story that inspired Notorious, "Song of the Dragon" (or "Song of the Flame," according to Hitchcock), was also used as the basis for the silent film Convoy (1927), starring Dorothy Mackaill and Lowell Sherman.

The scene where a drunken Ingrid Bergman sends everyone home from her party was later used to amusing effect in the Steve Martin private eye parody, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982).

by Rob Nixon

Pop Culture 101 - Notorious

The story was performed over the airwaves on the Lux Radio Theater in 1948. Ingrid Bergman reprised her role and Joseph Cotten, with whom she was filming Hitchcock's Under Capricorn (1949), played Cary Grant's role. The first German version of the movie, called White Poison and released in 1951, was dubbed to eliminate any reference to World War II and the Third Reich. Instead of Nazis, the plot dealt with international drug smugglers. Notorious begins with the title: "Miami, Florida, 3:20 p.m., April 20, 1946," a very specific bit of information that adds little to our understanding or appreciation of the story. Hitchcock used the same time and date specificity at the beginning of Psycho (1960). The poisoned drink, only suspected in Suspicion (1941) and Spellbound (1945), becomes a real threat to Bergman's life in Notorious. The scene where Grant and Bergman kiss while discussing the chicken she will make for dinner is echoed later in To Catch a Thief (1955). Grace Kelly seduces Grant while discussing poultry, asking if he prefers legs to breasts. The scene where Alex Sebastian and his mother argue about the house keys behind closed doors is reminiscent of the scenes of Norman Bates arguing with his mother (in fact, himself), also shot outside her bedroom door. In fact, the domineering mother in Notorious prefigures many such characters in Hitchcock's films, including The Birds (1963) and Marnie (1964). The Saturday Evening Post story that inspired Notorious, "Song of the Dragon" (or "Song of the Flame," according to Hitchcock), was also used as the basis for the silent film Convoy (1927), starring Dorothy Mackaill and Lowell Sherman. The scene where a drunken Ingrid Bergman sends everyone home from her party was later used to amusing effect in the Steve Martin private eye parody, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982). by Rob Nixon

Trivia - Notorious - Trivia: NOTORIOUS


Notorious was released in the U.S. in August 1946. Its premiere run at New York's Radio City Music Hall was a smash hit.

In addition to the $800,000 RKO spent to buy the film package (including script, director, and cast), Notorious cost about $2 million to make. It grossed $8-9 million.

Hitchcock makes his usual cameo appearance about an hour into the picture, drinking champagne during the big party at the Sebastian home.

Hitchcock and Ben Hecht worked together on a total of seven films, although Notorious and Spellbound (1945) are the only two for which Hecht received screenplay credit. The writer was also believed to have done uncredited work on Foreign Correspondent (1940), Lifeboat (1944), The Paradine Case (1947), and Rope (1948). Some sources list him as having made some uncredited contributions to Strangers on a Train (1951), which is probably attributable to some help he gave his assistant, Czenzi Ormonde, who did the rewrite of Raymond Chandler's script.

Along with James Stewart, Cary Grant was Hitchcock¿ most-used actor (both stars appeared in four Hitchcock films). In addition to this picture, Grant appeared in Suspicion (1941), To Catch a Thief (1955), and North By Northwest (1959).

Ingrid Bergman also appeared in the Hitchcock films Spellbound (1945) and Under Capricorn (1949).

Bergman and Grant appeared in only one other film together, Indiscreet (1958).

Cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff became a director. One of his best-known films was the suspense thriller The Window (1949).

Composer Roy Webb received seven Academy Award nominations for his film scores (although not for this one). He composed for a number of film noir pictures, as well as several directed by Notorious cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff.

Acclaimed costume designer Edith Head designed Bergman'S clothes for this picture. She also worked on ten other Hitchcock films after this, up through his last picture, Family Plot (1976). Head was nominated for Academy Awards 35 times, including Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief (1955), and her designs won eight Oscars.

Famed cinematographer Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane, 1941) did not receive credit as the second-unit director of photography on this picture.

John Taintor Foote, whose 1921 short story inspired the plot of Notorious, was also a screenwriter. Among his screenplays was the Tyrone Power picture The Mark of Zorro (1940).

Ethel Barrymore and Mildred Natwick were considered for the role of Nazi matriarch Madame Sebastian. Hitchcock worked with them both later: Barrymore on The Paradine Case (1947) and Natwick on The Trouble with Harry (1955).

Memorable Quotes from NOTORIOUS

ALICIA (Ingrid Bergman): The important drinking hasn'T started yet.

DEVLIN (Cary Grant): Don't you need a coat?
ALICIA: You'll do.

DEVLIN: Why do you like that song?
ALICIA: Because it's a lot of hooey. Nothing like a love song to give you a good laugh.

ALICIA: Waving the flag with one hand and picking pockets with the other - there's your patriotism.

DEVLIN: I've always been scared of women. But I get over it.

ALICIA: This is a strange love affair.
DEVLIN: What's strange about it?
ALICIA: The fact that you don't love me.
DEVLIN: When I don't love you, I'll let you know.

MADAME SEBASTIAN (Leopoldine Konstantin): Wouldn't it be a little too much if we both grinned at her like idiots?

ALICIA: You can add Sebastian's name to my list of playmates.
DEVLIN: Pretty fast work.
ALICIA: That's what you wanted, wasn't it?

DEVLIN: Miss Huberman is first, last, and always not a lady. She may be risking her life, but when it comes to being a lady she doesn't hold a candle to your wife, sitting in Washington playing bridge with three other ladies of great honor.

SEBASTIAN (Claude Rains): Mother. I need your help. I am married to an American agent.

ALICIA: Say it again, it keeps me awake.
DEVLIN: I love you.

Compiled by Rob Nixon

Trivia - Notorious - Trivia: NOTORIOUS

Notorious was released in the U.S. in August 1946. Its premiere run at New York's Radio City Music Hall was a smash hit. In addition to the $800,000 RKO spent to buy the film package (including script, director, and cast), Notorious cost about $2 million to make. It grossed $8-9 million. Hitchcock makes his usual cameo appearance about an hour into the picture, drinking champagne during the big party at the Sebastian home. Hitchcock and Ben Hecht worked together on a total of seven films, although Notorious and Spellbound (1945) are the only two for which Hecht received screenplay credit. The writer was also believed to have done uncredited work on Foreign Correspondent (1940), Lifeboat (1944), The Paradine Case (1947), and Rope (1948). Some sources list him as having made some uncredited contributions to Strangers on a Train (1951), which is probably attributable to some help he gave his assistant, Czenzi Ormonde, who did the rewrite of Raymond Chandler's script. Along with James Stewart, Cary Grant was Hitchcock¿ most-used actor (both stars appeared in four Hitchcock films). In addition to this picture, Grant appeared in Suspicion (1941), To Catch a Thief (1955), and North By Northwest (1959). Ingrid Bergman also appeared in the Hitchcock films Spellbound (1945) and Under Capricorn (1949). Bergman and Grant appeared in only one other film together, Indiscreet (1958). Cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff became a director. One of his best-known films was the suspense thriller The Window (1949). Composer Roy Webb received seven Academy Award nominations for his film scores (although not for this one). He composed for a number of film noir pictures, as well as several directed by Notorious cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff. Acclaimed costume designer Edith Head designed Bergman'S clothes for this picture. She also worked on ten other Hitchcock films after this, up through his last picture, Family Plot (1976). Head was nominated for Academy Awards 35 times, including Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief (1955), and her designs won eight Oscars. Famed cinematographer Gregg Toland (Citizen Kane, 1941) did not receive credit as the second-unit director of photography on this picture. John Taintor Foote, whose 1921 short story inspired the plot of Notorious, was also a screenwriter. Among his screenplays was the Tyrone Power picture The Mark of Zorro (1940). Ethel Barrymore and Mildred Natwick were considered for the role of Nazi matriarch Madame Sebastian. Hitchcock worked with them both later: Barrymore on The Paradine Case (1947) and Natwick on The Trouble with Harry (1955). Memorable Quotes from NOTORIOUS ALICIA (Ingrid Bergman): The important drinking hasn'T started yet. DEVLIN (Cary Grant): Don't you need a coat? ALICIA: You'll do. DEVLIN: Why do you like that song? ALICIA: Because it's a lot of hooey. Nothing like a love song to give you a good laugh. ALICIA: Waving the flag with one hand and picking pockets with the other - there's your patriotism. DEVLIN: I've always been scared of women. But I get over it. ALICIA: This is a strange love affair. DEVLIN: What's strange about it? ALICIA: The fact that you don't love me. DEVLIN: When I don't love you, I'll let you know. MADAME SEBASTIAN (Leopoldine Konstantin): Wouldn't it be a little too much if we both grinned at her like idiots? ALICIA: You can add Sebastian's name to my list of playmates. DEVLIN: Pretty fast work. ALICIA: That's what you wanted, wasn't it? DEVLIN: Miss Huberman is first, last, and always not a lady. She may be risking her life, but when it comes to being a lady she doesn't hold a candle to your wife, sitting in Washington playing bridge with three other ladies of great honor. SEBASTIAN (Claude Rains): Mother. I need your help. I am married to an American agent. ALICIA: Say it again, it keeps me awake. DEVLIN: I love you. Compiled by Rob Nixon

The Big Idea - Notorious


The idea for Notorious came initially from a story by John Tainter Foote published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1921. Hitchcock told French director Francois Truffaut the story was called "The Song of the Flame." Most sources give the title as "Song of the Dragon." In any case, it was producer David O. Selznick, to whom Hitchcock was under contract, who gave the director the story from his file of unproduced ideas.

The Foote story was about a young woman in love with the son of a prominent New York society woman. The young woman fears a secret from her past will destroy her chances of happiness ¿she slept with a foreign spy to gain valuable secrets. Hitchcock talked the story over with writer Ben Hecht, and they decided to keep only the part about the young woman pressed into sexual service for her country.

As the two developed the story, Hitchcock came up with an idea for the "MacGuffin," centering the Nazi spy plot around wine bottles filled with uranium ore. According to the story Hitchcock told for many years, the idea came to him in 1944 (a year before the world became of aware of the atom bomb). He said a writer friend of his had told him about a secret project in New Mexico, and he also claimed to be aware of the Germans conducting undercover experiments in Norway. And Hecht read an article about uranium, which he believed had something to do with the work being done in New Mexico and Norway and was rumored to be development of an atomic bomb.

Hitchcock and Hecht went to see Dr. Robert Millikan at the California Institute of Technology to run their uranium idea by him. He warned them they could get arrested if they discussed the atom bomb too much, and told them hydrogen was the element they hoped to harness, not uranium. Satisfied they weren't giving away government secrets, the two kept the uranium idea. But Hitchcock claimed he was kept under surveillance by the FBI as a result of the idea and the meeting with Millikan.

Hitchcock said Selznick decided not to produce the picture under his own banner because the uranium plot was too unbelievable. The producer sold the entire package - director, script, and cast - to RKO for $800,000 and 50 percent of the profits. Hitchcock and RKO's William Dozier took over as production executives.

Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto disputes the director's claims about guessing the importance of uranium. According to Spoto, Hecht and Hitchcock didn't put the final touches on the script until just before shooting began in October 1945. By that time, the atom bomb had been used against Japan and Hitchcock had interviewed several actors for supporting parts who were German refugees carrying rumors of escaped Nazis in South America (the film's location and a crucial plot point), Spoto said.

Spoto and others also said that although it was true Selznick was not enthusiastic about the movie's plot, the main reason he sold the package to RKO was that he was deeply embroiled in the production of his epic Western Duel in the Sun (1946) and needed the money.

Some memos in the RKO and Selznick archives seem to suggest that playwright Clifford Odets may have been hired to do minor script revisions just before filming began, but there is no evidence of any Odets contributions incorporated into the script and no record of any payment made to him.

Some sources say that Selznick originally wanted Vivien Leigh for the role of Alicia. But Bergman was under contract to him and one of his biggest stars.

Bergman was Hitchcock's choice from the beginning. The two had worked well together on Spellbound (1945), and Hitchcock, who had something of a crush on his star, was eager to work with her again.

Hitchcock had also worked previously with Cary Grant on Suspicion (1941). When the Notorious package was sold to RKO, Grant and Bergman were already locked in as part of the deal.

Hitchcock wanted Clifton Webb for the role of Alex Sebastian, the German who Bergman marries to gain access to the Nazi plot, but Dozier prevailed in his choice of Claude Rains.

When Ethel Barrymore rejected the role of Sebastian's domineering mother, RKO suggested Mildred Natwick. But the director felt the role required a stronger presence. The part finally went to legendary German actress Leopoldine Konstantin (credited as "Madame Konstantin"), one of several German refugees cast as the escaped Nazis in the film. Konstantin had acted for three decades with Max Reinhardt's famous theater troupe and made several pictures in Europe. But she was so unknown here she received a mere pittance for her work, even though she was fifth billed. Notorious was her only American film and her last screen appearance.

by Rob Nixon

The Big Idea - Notorious

The idea for Notorious came initially from a story by John Tainter Foote published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1921. Hitchcock told French director Francois Truffaut the story was called "The Song of the Flame." Most sources give the title as "Song of the Dragon." In any case, it was producer David O. Selznick, to whom Hitchcock was under contract, who gave the director the story from his file of unproduced ideas. The Foote story was about a young woman in love with the son of a prominent New York society woman. The young woman fears a secret from her past will destroy her chances of happiness ¿she slept with a foreign spy to gain valuable secrets. Hitchcock talked the story over with writer Ben Hecht, and they decided to keep only the part about the young woman pressed into sexual service for her country. As the two developed the story, Hitchcock came up with an idea for the "MacGuffin," centering the Nazi spy plot around wine bottles filled with uranium ore. According to the story Hitchcock told for many years, the idea came to him in 1944 (a year before the world became of aware of the atom bomb). He said a writer friend of his had told him about a secret project in New Mexico, and he also claimed to be aware of the Germans conducting undercover experiments in Norway. And Hecht read an article about uranium, which he believed had something to do with the work being done in New Mexico and Norway and was rumored to be development of an atomic bomb. Hitchcock and Hecht went to see Dr. Robert Millikan at the California Institute of Technology to run their uranium idea by him. He warned them they could get arrested if they discussed the atom bomb too much, and told them hydrogen was the element they hoped to harness, not uranium. Satisfied they weren't giving away government secrets, the two kept the uranium idea. But Hitchcock claimed he was kept under surveillance by the FBI as a result of the idea and the meeting with Millikan. Hitchcock said Selznick decided not to produce the picture under his own banner because the uranium plot was too unbelievable. The producer sold the entire package - director, script, and cast - to RKO for $800,000 and 50 percent of the profits. Hitchcock and RKO's William Dozier took over as production executives. Hitchcock biographer Donald Spoto disputes the director's claims about guessing the importance of uranium. According to Spoto, Hecht and Hitchcock didn't put the final touches on the script until just before shooting began in October 1945. By that time, the atom bomb had been used against Japan and Hitchcock had interviewed several actors for supporting parts who were German refugees carrying rumors of escaped Nazis in South America (the film's location and a crucial plot point), Spoto said. Spoto and others also said that although it was true Selznick was not enthusiastic about the movie's plot, the main reason he sold the package to RKO was that he was deeply embroiled in the production of his epic Western Duel in the Sun (1946) and needed the money. Some memos in the RKO and Selznick archives seem to suggest that playwright Clifford Odets may have been hired to do minor script revisions just before filming began, but there is no evidence of any Odets contributions incorporated into the script and no record of any payment made to him. Some sources say that Selznick originally wanted Vivien Leigh for the role of Alicia. But Bergman was under contract to him and one of his biggest stars. Bergman was Hitchcock's choice from the beginning. The two had worked well together on Spellbound (1945), and Hitchcock, who had something of a crush on his star, was eager to work with her again. Hitchcock had also worked previously with Cary Grant on Suspicion (1941). When the Notorious package was sold to RKO, Grant and Bergman were already locked in as part of the deal. Hitchcock wanted Clifton Webb for the role of Alex Sebastian, the German who Bergman marries to gain access to the Nazi plot, but Dozier prevailed in his choice of Claude Rains. When Ethel Barrymore rejected the role of Sebastian's domineering mother, RKO suggested Mildred Natwick. But the director felt the role required a stronger presence. The part finally went to legendary German actress Leopoldine Konstantin (credited as "Madame Konstantin"), one of several German refugees cast as the escaped Nazis in the film. Konstantin had acted for three decades with Max Reinhardt's famous theater troupe and made several pictures in Europe. But she was so unknown here she received a mere pittance for her work, even though she was fifth billed. Notorious was her only American film and her last screen appearance. by Rob Nixon

Behind the Camera - Notorious


By all accounts, production of Notorious proceeded very smoothly. Principal photography lasted from October 1945 to February 1946.

Hitchcock and Bergman's happy working relationship was enhanced by the opening of their previous picture in November 1945 during production of this movie. Spellbound received enthusiastic reviews and within weeks of its release was well on its way to earning eight times its cost.

Director and female star managed to get along famously despite his infatuation with her. Hitchcock once told the story of how Bergman, attending one of the frequent dinner parties at his home, hysterically refused to leave his bedroom until he made love to her - an episode that almost surely never happened. But his obsession with the star was obvious enough to cause tension during the filming of Notorious between him and his wife of many years, Alma Reville.

Mrs. Hitchcock may have had another reason for jealousy, according to biographer Donald Spoto. Her husband's longtime collaborator, script doctor, and adviser, she was often shunted aside during his successful writing partnership with Hecht.

The scene of Bergman drunkenly speeding along a South Florida road with Grant as her passenger was shot in the studio with rear projection. The projected shots had a motorcycle cop gaining on them. As he gets closer to the car, he goes out of frame to the right, and the film cuts to him riding next to the car, this time in the studio. Hitchcock suggested to cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff that he shine light on the backs of Grant's and Bergman's necks as the projected motorcyclist moves off to their side. According to Hitchcock, Tetzlaff was irritated that the director thought of this instead of him and snapped, "Getting a bit technical, aren't you, Pop?"

Hitchcock was his usual unflappable self during production. While in conference with Tetzlaff on the set one day, a fire broke out. Hitchcock finished his sentence to Tetzlaff, turned to some stagehands and said quite coolly, "Will someone please put that fire out?" He then returned to his conversation.

Because Rains was so much smaller than Bergman, Hitchcock placed him on boxes in the close shots. In one shot, however, the two had to be seen walking in full frame with the camera panning from one to the other. Hitchcock solved the height issue by having Rains walk on a plank that gradually rose as he came toward the camera.

While filming one shot, Grant carped that he was supposed to open the door with his right hand but he was holding his hat in that hand. "Have you considered the possibility of transferring the hat to the other hand?" Hitchcock replied.

To get around possible censor objections to kissing scenes that were too long and passionate, Hitchcock devised a scene where Grant and Bergman would neck and nibble at each other for a few minutes while they discussed food, moved about the apartment, and spoke on the phone.

Hitchcock said he was inspired to do this scene in part by the memory of a young couple he spotted from a train in France. The boy was urinating against a wall and the girl had hold of his arm, never letting go. "She¿ look down at what he was doing, and then look around at the scenery, and down again to see how far he's got on," Hitchcock explained. "And that was what gave me the idea. She couldn't let go. Romance must not be interrupted, even by urinating."

When scriptwriter Ben Hecht watched the filming of Grant and Bergman kissing while discussing dinner, he said, "I don't get all this talk about chicken!"

by Rob Nixon

Behind the Camera - Notorious

By all accounts, production of Notorious proceeded very smoothly. Principal photography lasted from October 1945 to February 1946. Hitchcock and Bergman's happy working relationship was enhanced by the opening of their previous picture in November 1945 during production of this movie. Spellbound received enthusiastic reviews and within weeks of its release was well on its way to earning eight times its cost. Director and female star managed to get along famously despite his infatuation with her. Hitchcock once told the story of how Bergman, attending one of the frequent dinner parties at his home, hysterically refused to leave his bedroom until he made love to her - an episode that almost surely never happened. But his obsession with the star was obvious enough to cause tension during the filming of Notorious between him and his wife of many years, Alma Reville. Mrs. Hitchcock may have had another reason for jealousy, according to biographer Donald Spoto. Her husband's longtime collaborator, script doctor, and adviser, she was often shunted aside during his successful writing partnership with Hecht. The scene of Bergman drunkenly speeding along a South Florida road with Grant as her passenger was shot in the studio with rear projection. The projected shots had a motorcycle cop gaining on them. As he gets closer to the car, he goes out of frame to the right, and the film cuts to him riding next to the car, this time in the studio. Hitchcock suggested to cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff that he shine light on the backs of Grant's and Bergman's necks as the projected motorcyclist moves off to their side. According to Hitchcock, Tetzlaff was irritated that the director thought of this instead of him and snapped, "Getting a bit technical, aren't you, Pop?" Hitchcock was his usual unflappable self during production. While in conference with Tetzlaff on the set one day, a fire broke out. Hitchcock finished his sentence to Tetzlaff, turned to some stagehands and said quite coolly, "Will someone please put that fire out?" He then returned to his conversation. Because Rains was so much smaller than Bergman, Hitchcock placed him on boxes in the close shots. In one shot, however, the two had to be seen walking in full frame with the camera panning from one to the other. Hitchcock solved the height issue by having Rains walk on a plank that gradually rose as he came toward the camera. While filming one shot, Grant carped that he was supposed to open the door with his right hand but he was holding his hat in that hand. "Have you considered the possibility of transferring the hat to the other hand?" Hitchcock replied. To get around possible censor objections to kissing scenes that were too long and passionate, Hitchcock devised a scene where Grant and Bergman would neck and nibble at each other for a few minutes while they discussed food, moved about the apartment, and spoke on the phone. Hitchcock said he was inspired to do this scene in part by the memory of a young couple he spotted from a train in France. The boy was urinating against a wall and the girl had hold of his arm, never letting go. "She¿ look down at what he was doing, and then look around at the scenery, and down again to see how far he's got on," Hitchcock explained. "And that was what gave me the idea. She couldn't let go. Romance must not be interrupted, even by urinating." When scriptwriter Ben Hecht watched the filming of Grant and Bergman kissing while discussing dinner, he said, "I don't get all this talk about chicken!" by Rob Nixon

The Critics Corner - Notorious - Critics' Corner: NOTORIOUS


Awards and Honors

The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Claude Rains) and Best Original Screenplay (Ben Hecht).

On the centenary of Hitchcock's birth in 1999, the British Film Institute asked a panel of noted filmmakers, among them Martin Scorsese, Atom Egoyan, Milos Forman, and Baz Luhrmann, to list the director's ten best films. Notorious came in third behind Psycho (1960) and Vertigo (1958).

The Critics' Corner: NOTORIOUS

"Ben Hecht has written and Mr. Hitchcock has directed in brilliant style, a romantic melodrama which is just about as thrilling as they come ¿velvet smooth in dramatic action, sharp and sure in its character and heavily charged with the intensity of warm emotional appeal. As a matter of fact, the distinction of Notorious as a film is the remarkable blend of a love story with expert thriller that it represents." - Bosley Crowther, New York Times, 1946

"The Hitchcock 'touch' is apparent in several scenes, notably at a party where suspense is built magnificently as the champagne slowly disappears. The American agent in the wine cellar is working against the thirst of the celebrants." - New York Herald Tribune, 1946

"This is truly my favorite Hitchcock picture; at any rate, it's the one I prefer in the black-and-white group. In my opinion, Notorious is the very quintessence of Hitchcock...It's still a remarkably modern picture, with very few scenes and an exceptionally pure story line. In the sense that it gets a maximum effect from a minimum of elements, it's really a model of scenario construction." - Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock (Simon & Schuster, 1983)

"The suspense is terrific...Bergman is literally ravishing in what is probably her sexiest performance...Great trash, great fun." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies (Henry Holt, 1984)

"Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious is the most elegant expression of the master's visual style, just as Vertigo (1958) is the fullest expression of his obsessions. It contains some of the most effective camera shots in his - or anyone's work, and they all lead to the great final passages in which two men find out how very wrong they both were. This is the film, with Casablanca (1942), that assures Ingrid Bergman's immortality." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Time, 1999

"Hitchcock's first truly great film. An intense triangle drama which constantly forces you to change your feelings about the three leads, this is also a sumptuous romance, with Grant and Bergman sharing what was then the screen's longest close-up kiss. Gorgeously shot in luminous monochrome, it's all wrapped up with an extremely suspenseful last reel." - Kim Newman, Empire, December 2000

by Rob Nixon

The Critics Corner - Notorious - Critics' Corner: NOTORIOUS

Awards and Honors The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Claude Rains) and Best Original Screenplay (Ben Hecht). On the centenary of Hitchcock's birth in 1999, the British Film Institute asked a panel of noted filmmakers, among them Martin Scorsese, Atom Egoyan, Milos Forman, and Baz Luhrmann, to list the director's ten best films. Notorious came in third behind Psycho (1960) and Vertigo (1958). The Critics' Corner: NOTORIOUS "Ben Hecht has written and Mr. Hitchcock has directed in brilliant style, a romantic melodrama which is just about as thrilling as they come ¿velvet smooth in dramatic action, sharp and sure in its character and heavily charged with the intensity of warm emotional appeal. As a matter of fact, the distinction of Notorious as a film is the remarkable blend of a love story with expert thriller that it represents." - Bosley Crowther, New York Times, 1946 "The Hitchcock 'touch' is apparent in several scenes, notably at a party where suspense is built magnificently as the champagne slowly disappears. The American agent in the wine cellar is working against the thirst of the celebrants." - New York Herald Tribune, 1946 "This is truly my favorite Hitchcock picture; at any rate, it's the one I prefer in the black-and-white group. In my opinion, Notorious is the very quintessence of Hitchcock...It's still a remarkably modern picture, with very few scenes and an exceptionally pure story line. In the sense that it gets a maximum effect from a minimum of elements, it's really a model of scenario construction." - Francois Truffaut, Hitchcock (Simon & Schuster, 1983) "The suspense is terrific...Bergman is literally ravishing in what is probably her sexiest performance...Great trash, great fun." - Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies (Henry Holt, 1984) "Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious is the most elegant expression of the master's visual style, just as Vertigo (1958) is the fullest expression of his obsessions. It contains some of the most effective camera shots in his - or anyone's work, and they all lead to the great final passages in which two men find out how very wrong they both were. This is the film, with Casablanca (1942), that assures Ingrid Bergman's immortality." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Time, 1999 "Hitchcock's first truly great film. An intense triangle drama which constantly forces you to change your feelings about the three leads, this is also a sumptuous romance, with Grant and Bergman sharing what was then the screen's longest close-up kiss. Gorgeously shot in luminous monochrome, it's all wrapped up with an extremely suspenseful last reel." - Kim Newman, Empire, December 2000 by Rob Nixon

Notorious


Always a manipulator of audience perceptions and expectations, director Alfred Hitchcock did a pretty audacious thing for 1945 - right at the end of World War II, he created a sympathetic Nazi character in Notorious (1946), a romantic thriller involving scheming Germans living incognito in South America. Not that Hitchcock portrays the activities and philosophies of the Nazis in a positive light or makes Sebastian (played by Claude Rains) the "hero" of the story. That distinction goes to Cary Grant as FBI agent T.R. Devlin, but there again, Hitchcock toys with our sympathies. Assigned to enlist the American-born daughter (Ingrid Bergman) of a Nazi war criminal in a plot to trap the Germans, Devlin often appears cagey, bitter, and apparently insensitive to the young woman's feelings or the imminent danger she faces. On the other hand, Sebastian is shown to be a cultured man who truly loves his colleague's daughter (possibly more than Devlin does); in essence, he's a put-upon, emotionally vulnerable man with a domineering mother, fatally betrayed by the one person he truly cares about. At the end of the movie, you almost feel sorry for him.

Playing games with the audience is not the only thing that makes Notorious a quintessential Hitchcock experience. There are the technical hallmarks - an incredible zoom-in from a high crane shot to an extreme close-up of a significant plot detail in Bergman's hand; a famous kissing scene (designed to override the objections of censors) with Grant and Bergman nibbling away at each other while talking about food; the suspenseful inter-cutting of the final scene. Here also are prime early examples of some trademark Hitchcock themes and motifs - a woman complicitous in her forced transformation to a different person, later brought to its most obsessive heights in Vertigo (1958); the figure of the mother both adoring and deadly, who appears in various forms in Strangers on a Train (1951), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), and Marnie (1964). And, of course, the MacGuffin, the narrative device Hitchcock once defined as the thing that motivates the actions of the characters but which is of minor interest to audiences.

The MacGuffin in this case is uranium ore hidden in wine bottles in Sebastian's basement. Hitchcock always claimed to be remarkably prescient in his choice of this detail. According to the story he told for many years, the idea came to him one day in March of 1945 (several months before the world became of aware of the atom bomb) during a script session with veteran screenwriter Ben Hecht. Hitchcock said he was aware uranium was an unstable, rare element that might eventually be used to develop a nuclear weapon. In fact, he claimed he was placed under federal surveillance for making such an accurate guess. Whether or not he came up with the idea during the early scripting phrase, or a couple months after the bombing of Japan when the final screenplay was delivered, is open to debate. But he was right about one thing - the audience didn't care about the mysterious wine bottles.

The real suspense in Notorious is generated not by the "MacGuffin" but by the love story, the triangle between a federal agent, a Nazi, and the beautiful woman perilously trapped between them. And that's another unmistakable touch of the director - a romantic involvement that is heavily shaded with repression, obsessiveness, and deception. Biographers have suggested that Hitchcock was an expert in depicting these complex relationships because of his own infatuation with Bergman, with whom he had earlier worked with on Spellbound (1945). Hitchcock once told the story of how Bergman, attending a dinner party at his home, hysterically refused to leave his bedroom until he made love to her - an episode that almost surely never happened. But his obsession with the star was obvious enough to cause tension between him and his wife of many years, Alma Reville, during the filming of Notorious. Mrs. Hitchcock may have also had another reason for jealousy. Even though she was her husband's longtime collaborator, script doctor, and adviser, she was shunted aside during his successful writing partnership with Hecht on this film. Hitchcock and Hecht worked together three times previously, creating Spellbound, Foreign Correspondent (1940), and Lifeboat (1944), and they would make three more films after this - The Paradine Case (1947), Rope (1948), and Strangers on a Train.

The love story was given an extra dimension by the presence of Madame Sebastian, whose relationship with her son is part firm-handed mother and part jealous spouse (some Hitchcock biographers have said it is based on the director's relationship with his own wife). After Ethel Barrymore rejected the role, RKO suggested Mildred Natwick. The part finally went to legendary German actress Leopoldine Konstantin (credited as "Madame Konstantin"), who had acted for three decades with Max Reinhardt's famous theater troupe and made several pictures in Europe. But she was so unknown here she only received a meager salary for her work, even though she was fifth billed. Notorious was her only American film and her last screen appearance.

Producer/Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenplay: Ben Hecht
Cinematography: Ted Tetzlaff
Editing: Theron Warth
Art Direction: Carroll Clark, Albert D'Agostino
Original Music: Roy Webb
Cast: Cary Grant (T.R. Devlin), Ingrid Bergman (Alicia Huberman), Claude Rains (Alexander Sebastian), Leopoldine Konstantin (Madame Sebastian), Louis Calhern (Prescott).
BW-102m. Closed captioning.

by Rob Nixon

Notorious

Always a manipulator of audience perceptions and expectations, director Alfred Hitchcock did a pretty audacious thing for 1945 - right at the end of World War II, he created a sympathetic Nazi character in Notorious (1946), a romantic thriller involving scheming Germans living incognito in South America. Not that Hitchcock portrays the activities and philosophies of the Nazis in a positive light or makes Sebastian (played by Claude Rains) the "hero" of the story. That distinction goes to Cary Grant as FBI agent T.R. Devlin, but there again, Hitchcock toys with our sympathies. Assigned to enlist the American-born daughter (Ingrid Bergman) of a Nazi war criminal in a plot to trap the Germans, Devlin often appears cagey, bitter, and apparently insensitive to the young woman's feelings or the imminent danger she faces. On the other hand, Sebastian is shown to be a cultured man who truly loves his colleague's daughter (possibly more than Devlin does); in essence, he's a put-upon, emotionally vulnerable man with a domineering mother, fatally betrayed by the one person he truly cares about. At the end of the movie, you almost feel sorry for him. Playing games with the audience is not the only thing that makes Notorious a quintessential Hitchcock experience. There are the technical hallmarks - an incredible zoom-in from a high crane shot to an extreme close-up of a significant plot detail in Bergman's hand; a famous kissing scene (designed to override the objections of censors) with Grant and Bergman nibbling away at each other while talking about food; the suspenseful inter-cutting of the final scene. Here also are prime early examples of some trademark Hitchcock themes and motifs - a woman complicitous in her forced transformation to a different person, later brought to its most obsessive heights in Vertigo (1958); the figure of the mother both adoring and deadly, who appears in various forms in Strangers on a Train (1951), Psycho (1960), The Birds (1963), and Marnie (1964). And, of course, the MacGuffin, the narrative device Hitchcock once defined as the thing that motivates the actions of the characters but which is of minor interest to audiences. The MacGuffin in this case is uranium ore hidden in wine bottles in Sebastian's basement. Hitchcock always claimed to be remarkably prescient in his choice of this detail. According to the story he told for many years, the idea came to him one day in March of 1945 (several months before the world became of aware of the atom bomb) during a script session with veteran screenwriter Ben Hecht. Hitchcock said he was aware uranium was an unstable, rare element that might eventually be used to develop a nuclear weapon. In fact, he claimed he was placed under federal surveillance for making such an accurate guess. Whether or not he came up with the idea during the early scripting phrase, or a couple months after the bombing of Japan when the final screenplay was delivered, is open to debate. But he was right about one thing - the audience didn't care about the mysterious wine bottles. The real suspense in Notorious is generated not by the "MacGuffin" but by the love story, the triangle between a federal agent, a Nazi, and the beautiful woman perilously trapped between them. And that's another unmistakable touch of the director - a romantic involvement that is heavily shaded with repression, obsessiveness, and deception. Biographers have suggested that Hitchcock was an expert in depicting these complex relationships because of his own infatuation with Bergman, with whom he had earlier worked with on Spellbound (1945). Hitchcock once told the story of how Bergman, attending a dinner party at his home, hysterically refused to leave his bedroom until he made love to her - an episode that almost surely never happened. But his obsession with the star was obvious enough to cause tension between him and his wife of many years, Alma Reville, during the filming of Notorious. Mrs. Hitchcock may have also had another reason for jealousy. Even though she was her husband's longtime collaborator, script doctor, and adviser, she was shunted aside during his successful writing partnership with Hecht on this film. Hitchcock and Hecht worked together three times previously, creating Spellbound, Foreign Correspondent (1940), and Lifeboat (1944), and they would make three more films after this - The Paradine Case (1947), Rope (1948), and Strangers on a Train. The love story was given an extra dimension by the presence of Madame Sebastian, whose relationship with her son is part firm-handed mother and part jealous spouse (some Hitchcock biographers have said it is based on the director's relationship with his own wife). After Ethel Barrymore rejected the role, RKO suggested Mildred Natwick. The part finally went to legendary German actress Leopoldine Konstantin (credited as "Madame Konstantin"), who had acted for three decades with Max Reinhardt's famous theater troupe and made several pictures in Europe. But she was so unknown here she only received a meager salary for her work, even though she was fifth billed. Notorious was her only American film and her last screen appearance. Producer/Director: Alfred Hitchcock Screenplay: Ben Hecht Cinematography: Ted Tetzlaff Editing: Theron Warth Art Direction: Carroll Clark, Albert D'Agostino Original Music: Roy Webb Cast: Cary Grant (T.R. Devlin), Ingrid Bergman (Alicia Huberman), Claude Rains (Alexander Sebastian), Leopoldine Konstantin (Madame Sebastian), Louis Calhern (Prescott). BW-102m. Closed captioning. by Rob Nixon

Quotes

Wouldn't it be a little too much if we both grinned at her like idiots.
- Madame Sebastian
Look, I'll make it easy for you. The time has come when you must tell me you have a wife and two adorable children... and this madness between us can't go on any longer.
- Alicia
Bet you've heard that line often enough.
- Devlin
Right below the belt every time. That isn't fair Dev.
- Alicia
I'm terrified.
- Alicia
Just pretend you're a janitor. Janitors are never terrified.
- Devlin
I have a feeling they're very slow.
- Alicia
My car is outside.
- Alicia
Naturally.
- Devlin
Well, did you hear that? I'm practically on the wagon, that's quite a change.
- Alicia
It's a phase.
- Devlin
You don't think a woman can change?
- Alicia
Sure, change is fun, for awhile.
- Devlin

Trivia

about an hour in, drinking champagne at the party in Alexander Sebastian's mansion.

Hitchcock claimed that the FBI had him under surveillance for three months because the film dealt with uranium.

Producer David O. Selznick originally wanted Vivien Leigh to play Alicia.

David O. Selznick sold the rights to Vanguard in order to finance part of Duel in the Sun (1946), which was over-budget and behind schedule.

Final scene takes place on stairs.

Notes

Although an October 1944 Hollywood Reporter news item listed Lois Anderson as the film's story writer, no other source credits her. The inspiration for the picture came from a 1921 Saturday Evening Post short story by John Taintor Foote entitled "The Song of the Dragon." In Foote's story, as in Notorious, a woman sacrifices herself sexually in order to gather information from her enemies, and undergoes a transformation as a result of her efforts. Modern sources provide the following information about the film's inception: Ben Hecht, who had worked with director Alfred Hitchcock and Selznick on the very successful 1944 film Spellbound , was signed to write the screenplay in late 1944 at a salary of $5,000 per week, with a fifteen-week guarantee. Working together in New York, Hecht and Hitchcock produced a fifty-page treatment in three weeks and then returned to Los Angeles to write additional treatments.
       In April 1945, months before the atomic bomb was tested for the first time in New Mexico, the uranium plot element was added to the story. In a modern interview, Hitchcock recalled that a writer friend had told him about a secret scientific project "some place in New Mexico," and that he, himself, was aware that the Germans were conducting heavy water tests in Norway. According to the modern interview, Hecht and Hitchcock consulted Dr. Robert Millikan, a Nobel Prize winner credited with the discovery of cosmic rays, on how to make an atomic bomb. Millikan reportedly refused to answer the question directly, but confirmed the writers' contention that the crucial bomb ingredient (uranium) could fit into a wine bottle. As a result of the uranium device, Hitchcock was put under surveillance by the FBI for several weeks.
       Before the script was completed, modern sources continue, Selznick, who was struggling to finish Duel in the Sun , approached independent producer Hal B. Wallis to take over the production. Wallis, who questioned the credibility of the uranium device, soon abandoned the project, however, and in mid-July 1945, RKO entered into a deal with Selznick. According to the terms of the contract, RKO bought Selznick's "package"-Hecht, Hitchcock, Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman-for $800,000 and fifty percent of the net profits. Although Hitchcock received no money from the sale, he was designated as the film's producer and was given free creative reign at the studio. Notorious was the first American film on which Hitchcock worked as both producer and director.
       RKO script files contained in the UCLA Arts Library-Special Collections add the following information about the production: Although not credited on screen, Hitchcock co-wrote the screenplay with Hecht. In addition to Hecht and Hitchcock, Clifford Odets, who is listed on one draft as A. B. Clifford, worked on the script, although the extent of his contribution to the completed film has not been determined. [Modern sources claim that Odets was hired to write dialogue for the love scenes.] An early draft of the screenplay included two "happy" endings. In both, "Alicia" and "Devlin" are seen either already married or getting married. In early drafts of the treatment, according to modern sources, Devlin, who was called "Wallie Fancher," dies while fighting with "Sebastian."
       MPAA/PCA files contained at the AMPAS Library add the following information about the production: Responding to an early draft of the screenplay, PCA director Joseph I. Breen stated in a May 25, 1945 letter to Selznick that Notorious was "definitely" unacceptable as far as the Code was concerned, because the heroine is a "grossly immoral woman, whose immorality is accepted in stride." Breen suggested changing Alicia from a prostitute to a gold digger whose "total loss of faith in her father" leads her to "get what she can out of life." Although Alicia's sexual habits were toned down in later drafts, Breen continued to object to her character and was especially distressed by an early scene in which an illicit relationship between Alicia and "Ernest" was implied. That scene was eventually altered to appease Breen.
       In the May 25, 1945 letter, Breen also advised Selznick to take "counsel" with the FBI, noting that the "industry has had a kind of 'gentleman's agreement' with Mr. J. Edgar Hoover, wherein we have practically obligated ourselves to submit to him, for his consideration and approval, stories which importantly involve the activities" of the FBI. [Modern sources note that Hoover did, in fact, object to the story, both in terms of its sexual content, and its depiction of agent Devlin.] Breen also recommended that Selznick consult with the Brazilian government concerning the film's depiction of that country. In order to obtain the necessary U.S. government clearances, modern sources state, Selznick arranged for Hitchcock and a company representative to meet with Assistant Secretary of State Archibald MacLeish in Washington, D.C.
       According to modern sources, Selznick, hoping to capitalize on the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 August and August 9, 1945, tried unsuccessfully to convince RKO to replace Grant, who was tied up until October 1945, with Joseph Cotten and rush the film into production. Modern sources state that Selznick originally wanted Clifton Webb to play Sebastian, while Hitchcock considered George Sanders and opera star Ezio Pinza for the role. Selznick approached Ethel Barrymore to play "Madame Sebastian," but she turned down the part, according to modern sources. Madame Leopoldine Konstantin, who eventually played the role, made her first and only American screen appearance in Notorious.
       Hollywood Reporter noted that Hitchcock went to New York to cast the film, and a New York Times article commented that he had "set something of a precedent" by signing four New York stage actors to play small roles in the film. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Hitchcock tested Don Douglas for a "top role" in the production. (Douglas was not cast, however, and died on December 31, 1945 of appendicitis.) The CBCS lists both Luis Serrano and Ramon Nomar in the role of "Dr. Silva." It is not known which actor played the part, or if both actors appeared in the final film in different roles. Hollywood Reporter production charts include Lenore Ulric in the cast, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Hitchcock makes his customary cameo by appearing as a party guest near the champagne table. In late December 1945, Bergman's five-year, $2,000-per-week contract with Selznick expired, and, according to a New York Times article, Notorious was the last film she made as a Selznick star.
       In a modern interview, Hitchcock recalled that, because of the height difference between Claude Rains and Bergman, he had Rains stand on a box during his close-up shots with the actress. In another shot, Hitchcock had a graduated plank constructed, which enabled him to film Rains and Bergman walking toward the camera in a single shot while maintaining the height illusion. A Hollywood Citizen-News news item revealed that cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff created his famous "upside down shot" point-of-view shot of Grant, seen early in the film, with the use of mirrors. According to a November 1946 New York Times article, Hitchcock originally wanted to make his customary onscreen appearance playing a "deaf-mute walking inconspicuously through a street scene 'talking' in sign language to his woman companion." As the couple passes in front of the camera, the woman was to slap Hitchcock's face. When word of the proposed bit got out, Hitchcock received scores of protest letters from deaf-mutes and dropped the idea. In the final film, Hitchcock appears drinking a glass of champagne at Alicia's party.
       According to modern sources, in the spring of 1945, Selznick hired Gregg Toland to film rear-projection footage of South America. According to Hollywood Reporter, background shots were filmed in Miami, FL. Production files indicate that other scenes were taken in Baldwin Park in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and at the Santa Anita Racetrack near Los Angeles. RKO borrowed Edith Head from Paramount for the production. According to modern sources, the film cost two million dollars to make, but made eight million dollars in profits. Modern critics cite Notorious as an early, sublte example of a post-war "Red Menace" film.
       Claude Rains was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor and Hecht was nominated in the Best Writing (Original Screenplay) category. Ingrid Bergman reprised her role in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on January 26, 1948, co-starring Joseph Cotten. Notorious was remade in 1992 by Hamster-ABC Productions. Colin Bucksey directed and Jenny Robertson and John Shea starred in the television version, which was first broadcast on the Lifetime cable television network on January 28, 1992.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States March 1987

Released in United States September 6, 1946

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1946

Re-released on video in USA August, 1998.

Re-relesed video is a digitally remastered edition.

Re-released in Paris February 19, 1992.

Re-released in Zurich August 16, 1991.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1946

Released in United States March 1987 (Shown at AFI/Los Angeles International Film Festival (UCLA Movie Marathon: A Tribute to Cary Grant) March 11-26, 1987.)

Released in United States September 6, 1946