One of Hitchcock’s darkest thrillers, Notorious, will be back on the big screen this summer in a dazzling new 4K restoration. After opening Cinema Rediscovered at the Bristol Watershed on 25 July, it opens in cinemas UK-wide on 9 August and will be one of the highlights of BFI Southbank’s two-month Cary Grant season that begins on 1 August.
It’s just after World War II and a number of Nazis have been tracked down to Brazil. A US spy, T. R Devlin, (Cary Grant) persuades Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman), the American daughter of a convicted Nazi criminal, to join them in infiltrating the group so that she can get close to one of the leaders, Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), a friend of her father’s.
The resulting romantic tangle features mesmerising chemistry between Grant and Bergman and Hitchcock found an ingenious way of dealing with the Production Code’s ban on kisses longer than 3 seconds with a spine-tingling 2½ minute scene. Technically inventive, Notorious features one of Hitchcock’s most famous shots; when the camera swoops down from a grand staircase into a room full of party guests and comes behind Alicia to find her tightly holding a wine cellar key in her hand. Another famous sequence is the wine cellar search, which Hitchcock intercuts to scenes of the champagne running out at the party upstairs.
Claude Rains was nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and the film’s writer Ben Hecht received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. With the winning combination of Grant and Bergman, in one of Hitchcock’s most thrilling and tense films, Notorious might just be a perfect movie.