Alfred Hitchock’s Notorious is one of the greatest spy movies ever and it’s arrived in a fully-loaded new Blu-ray edition. Originally released in 1946 and starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, the movie arrived at a moment after we’d won WWII but Communists hadn’t yet replaced Nazis as enemy #1 in the public imagination.
Ben Hecht’s screenplay exposes the fact that a lot of Nazis escaped prosecution after the war and that quite a few of them had escaped to South America. That seems like a pretty obvious point 70 years later, but it was definitely news to most moviegoers at the time.
If you’re trying to get your kids or your significant other to understand that black & white movies aren’t stupid and boring, this is pretty much the best place you can start. Cary Grant was never better as the Intelligence handler who recruits party girl Ingrid Bergman in an operation to expose war criminals.
The transfers look really good, although Notorious is one of those movies where High Def video just makes the rear projection driving scenes even more obvious than they were on DVD. There’s a great extra that shows before-and-after images of the film’s digital repairs. This new version cleans up a lot of the visual noise but in some ways it highlights the flaws in the original production. It may not look as spectacular as some other films from the era, but this is definitely the best version of Notorious you’re likely to see at this point in history.
The disc comes with a couple of different film school professor commentaries, two documentaries about the making of the film, a radio play version from 1948 with Joseph Cotton and Ingrid Bergman and some audio interviews with Hitchcock. There’s everything you need here to write a paper for your film class.
Seriously, this is probably the best screenplay that Hitchcock ever had to work with. He’s trying to break through in Hollywood and has yet to take full control of his own productions. Vertigo and North by Northwest may be more visually spectacular but neither film has a female performance that can compare with Bergman’s complicated character here. This one’s definitely worth your time.