Monday, April 13, 2009

Notorious: Part 3

A quick note before we begin-- I am elated that people have begun to really comment and think with my blog! The commentary is great as well as the statements and questions! Please continue to do so! If you haven't, feel free to join in! The more the merrier!

I continue with the Notorious play by play entry. If you're tuning your DVD to the right spot, we've just met Alexander Sebastian. We are at the restaurant and Alicia is getting her date on with some Nazis. Let the conflict/story ensue!

  • Claude Rains was significantly shorter than Ingrid Bergman. They had to use a lot of tricks to make him seem taller and for her stature to seem smaller. In visual context, we naturally associate someone above someone else as a hierarchy so in order for him to be a powerful male, she must be submissive and most often shorter or lower than the male. There is a lot of bending, sitting, shifting to make it all work. Also--at one point, an angled plank was put near the stairs so he could look taller in a medium shot.
  • We are at the restaurant--Edith Head's costuming for Ingrid is gorgeous. I love the sparkly head dress.
  • Alex and Alicia do a lot of small talk and flattery to avoid the past as well as potential cracks in their weak relationship.
  • Alex notices the American agent that Alicia looks at. She finds out what he knows about the agents and how cognizant he is of her job presence in Rio.
  • "I'm allergic to American agents" -- this is a double meaning. She is coating her facade for her mission as well as letting us know she is still angry with Devlin.
  • Notice how her demeanor has changed since leaving Devlin last. She was content on the horse, thinking that she could stay by his side. Now she most closely resembles the woman we first came to know in Miami. This is a great rejuvenation of character.
  • Her reaction to her father is always slightly emotional, even though she tries to deny and resist the feelings.
  • Alex falls right into her arms.
    Easy target. Lol.
  • Notice his lust is much more forward than Devlin's.
  • He has noticed Devlin right away, this will be a reoccurring theme.
  • "You made a pretty couple" --he's right. Damn right.
  • She is quick to get a second date-- she is being brought to his house to meet his mother--and his Nazis. Lol.
  • In this next scene take note of the note left to Alicia from Alex. He has crossed out his formal name and handwritten "Alex." This shows affection and quick lust. Devlin's reaction as well as Captain Prescot's are important. Devlin sees the note and is upset by it, Prescot sees Devlin's reaction and is slightly intrigued. There isn't any time to go further than that at this point because Alicia interrupts the moment by entering the room in a beautiful white costume.
  • White is symbolic here of a renewed virginity that she must pretend to have. She has to seem as naive and innocent as possible during this first meeting.
  • Ingrid is lovely in this scene. It is smart for Prescot to put on her necklace because she and Devlin are still having a silent argument.
  • She looks for Dev's approval.
  • Joseph is a slightly dark butler, a lurch of sorts, but he also is a soft character who gives out information when needed. I like Joseph. Lol.
  • The house is very gothic, much like the type of character Ingrid plays.
  • Enter Madame Konstantin, character= Madame Anna Sebastian-- Alex's mother.
  • After a close up on Ingrid, Hitchcock holds a longshot of Madame Konstantin coming down the stairs. She walks from a wide, long shot to a close up that is hauntingly intimate.
  • There is an inescapable tension between Madame Sebastian and Alicia-- Truth is brought forth about the trials and they don't trust each other. Classic Hitch.
  • Alex inturrupts just in time-- they are very regemented.
  • Notice that Claude Rains and Ingrid never stand next to each other for very long in wider shots.
  • Take note of the various faces you see when the Germans are introducing themselves. These characters fall into a sterotyped stock character realm. Emil Hupka, the man who freaks out about the wine, has a fatter, kinder face than the rest, who all have thin, angular and scarred faces.
  • Doctor Anderson seems to have a certain compassion about him too, though it isn't as innocent.
  • Hupka's geeking out helps Alicia to notice the wine bottles. This is a part of the MacGuffin for the story, but important to maintaining the plot.
  • Speaking of the MacGuffin here-- it's the Uranium you'll see later. This Uranium caused major problems for David O. Selznik who had to fight to keep it in the script. He had to say that it was pure "science-fiction." 6 weeks after it's completion, Uranium was found to be a part of the bombs used in WWII, luckily Notorious was done and ready to be a film.
  • There are a lot of jabbs at sentimentality--almost claiming that the Germans here have none.
  • The men's sphere is maintained by cigars and brandy after dinner--along with plotting Emil Hupka's fate.
  • The German's attitude towards emotions are exaggerated so we don't feel any sympathy towards their cause. It is blatent but successful.
  • AT THE RACES! One of my favorite this point it's probably pointless to say that.
  • Alex's mother never addresses Alicia by her first name, never welcoming her into their circle. Alex is blinded by his admiration for her for so long, not realizing that his mother actually is right all along.
  • Madame Sebastian is a great comic relief as well.
  • All of the dialogue between Devlin and Alicia at this point is great. They are incredibly passive aggressive and finally put their feelings out again.
  • I love how Cary and Ingrid talk through their teeth during this scene. They do a great job of disguising the discussion.
  • She thinks she slams him with the "You can add Sebastian to my list of playmates" but because she is no longer the same girl she was in Miami-- it doesn't work well on the man she actually loves. He throws it back at her and emotions start to arise.
  • Devlin is obviously upset by this remark--both characters do a lot of switching and crumbling during this scene.
  • The binoculars are a great detail to remind us that we're still at the races.
  • "That's what you wanted wasn't it?" "Skip it." --These lines begin the fight they've been longing to have.
  • Back to small talk.
  • "Some kind of love test" -- seriously all of the language in this scene is remarkable-- I can't even keep up!
  • Best line of the scene Devlin: "Dry your eyes, baby, it's out of character."
  • Notice her disappointment when he says "Snap out of it. Here comes dream boat."
  • Alex is keeping tabs on Alicia and Devlin--the weak relationship continues to crack.
  • Creeper: "I watched you. I thought, maybe you're in love with him." (it's SO obvious now!! YEY!)
  • Sebastian takes things to the next level by trapping her into convincing him that she isn't in love with Devlin. This starts to close the doors for her escaping the relationship as well as really putting pressure on the mission-- also-- the mission would be successful if she commits this deeply. Choices, choices.
  • You'd think Alex would know that basing a marriage off of jealousy and proving something isn't a good start.
  • "Our little theatrical plan is working" --just in case you forgot! haha.
  • During this scene at the C.I.A. office- notice how Hitch doesn't take the camera off Ingrid and Cary. He said he did this becasue though you would think to look back and forth during a converstaion, all we need to see is their reaction to the objective. They are who we want to see together and watching them suffer is part of the conflict (and the director's passion). This moment is incredibly well done, both the performance and the way it is captured.
  • Devlin finally defends Alicia a bit. Slamming Mr. Hensley with a "your wife" comment. WOOT! yey smart asses!
  • I love Alicia's hats--all of them.
  • Sebastian's urgency for marriage should be something to be suspicious about.
  • Devlin feels it's useful and he is really just trying to get under her skin.
  • WATCH THEM... keep an eye on them...
  • "It's a perfect marriage--for us"
  • They are sad and mad at each other. If they would just express feelings this movie would end right here...but luckily--there's more! :)
  • Devlin's closing the door almost crushes Alicia. You can see it in her reaction to his leaving.
  • Madame Sebastian is the true ruler of the Sebastian household, though Alex boyishly tries to rule. She sits on almost a throne, sewing and not really paying attention to the drama. She is consistant and un-altering.
  • Alex blames jealousy--uh huh.
  • One week later----->
  • There's Joseph, looking spiffy! "Hello, Joseph."
  • Alicia has a TON of stuff! where to put it?
  • Let's do a sequence of closets!
  • Hupka is mentioned one last time. Alicia has to walk directly into the lion's den. Success has been found amongst the Nazi's... this helps to drive the plot.
  • Alex and Madame have an argument behind closed doors--she has to relinquish her duties to Alicia and is NOT happy about it.
  • Closets! I'm so jealous.
  • Wine Cellar eh? UNICA
  • Again-- the positioning of Devlin and Alicia's sitting is important. Her posture continues to change as does her residency in the spot. This is their haven, and place to be alone.
  • Did you see that kid run by? lol. Just noticed this time!
  • Look at the longing in Alicia's face.
  • The "Shin dig" is about to happen! Devlin's invited... oh wait-- the honeymoon isn't over.
  • Alicia has to sacrifice her body in so many ways for this mission.
  • Devlin gets to fly freely around while she is trapped in the home (sexual politics anyone? Female Gothic)
  • THE UNICA KEY!-- Quick story. This key has a story. PAUSE YOUR DVD! I will let Ingrid tell it...

Ingrid was very sick, but sucked it up to host this event for her good friend Alfred Hitchcock.
  • Em brought up a good point about Ingrid's hair in a comment: I'd like to know who styled Ingrid's hair, especially for that horrendously peculiar "devil horns" updo she was wearing at the party (sorry for mentioning the party even before you've analyzed the scene but that comment about Edith Head reminded me of it). --The answer is the makeup department which was lead by Mel Berns
  • I love the suspense created by the stealing of the key. You know she could be caught at any time. He grabs her hands and the key IS RIGHT THERE!!! But she's smart and grabs him--goes in for the real thing-- drops the key and conceals it.
  • One of the most famous shots in film history-- Long shot of the ball room that zooms into an extreme closeup of the key in Ingrid's hand! Hitch created a lift to take his camera, a focus man and himself up to the highest point in the "room" and then created this work of art. I bow at the alter of Alfred Hitchcock's brain.
  • I want that dress!
  • Devlin is fashionably late, making Alicia nervous and then a little too happy--noticeable by Alex.
  • He watches the two during the whole party. "His nips is on the trail"
  • They're talking through their teeth again-- the best is when they're drinking champagne.
  • Devlin has more attention to detail--totally in his character to notice small details. Alicia overlooks the possibility of needing more alcohol for the party. He notices. This makes the tension even greater because we're never sure if it will run out or not. Plus Hitchcock drops in for a glass--one more down the hatch!
  • Did you see Hitch? GULP!
  • Look how handsome Cary Grant is! They're such a pretty couple!
  • Joseph! He's so funny!
  • I like how Alex is so boyish. He waves like a child and grows green with envy at the drop of a hat.
  • Fake laughing-- great cover!
  • Hitchcock has stated in many interviews that he purposefully shows the audience what he wants them to see. He doesn't want a whole lot of interpretation on the major elements because he is telling a certain story. This doesn't leave much room for error. I feel like in Notorious he does it so well that there isn't anywhere to go, except Hitch's path.
  • I would love to know what the French conversation is in that scene--anyone speak French?
  • Devlin is experienced and calm but he neglects to pay attention to his surroundings. Alicia is too aware of her surroundings but is anything but calm.
  • Notice the dates on the bottles
  • This is the "MacGuffin" the Uranium Ore.
  • "Janitors are never terrified"
  • Hey Joseph! out of booze?
  • Devlin is on his toes and crafty!
  • Oh no! Here's they come? What to do?
  • I think if there wasn't huge censorship during this time, they would have been sexing it up big time in that doorway... too hot for 1946 though (j/k)
  • Alex's jealousy brings out a more mannish side to him. He also realizes his mother's truth.
  • Speak of the devil, Madame came to the party!
  • Party's over as far as Alex is concerned. He just realized the key is missing. He's been betrayed, time for revenge.
  • Time for a little hard alcohol-- liquid assets-- a huge theme in this film.
  • This is the plank scene-- the close up allows for the plank's use.
  • Her ascent upstairs and the return of the Key-- the bulid up to the climax is starting to get steeper.
  • Sleepless night for Alex--in his twin bed.
  • He retraces the events of the night, only to find that the bottles have been messed with and the key is returned.
  • Look at the dates--someone's been fiddling with the wine!
  • Madame Konstantin steals this scene--she is SO creepy and calm. She is also very masculine--she is all knowing and smokes like a man.
  • Alex says "No, I am married to an American agent" --This is not only a problem for Alicia, because he knows, it is also a problem for him. If it is found out that he is involved with an American agent, his life is at stake because the other Germans will exterminate him instead of dealing with someone who could potentially give away their plans and secrets. Madam Sebastian is also aware of the ties, and that she is now involved. She likes being involved in his life, but realizes the danger, she has a solution: poison.
This is where I am going to stop this entry. Please feel free to comment and let me know if you saw any motifs or details that you'd like to know more about or just noticed that I didn't address.
Also--opinions and comments are always welcomed!

1 comment:

Emily said...

Oooh. I hadn't made the connection about Alicia's white 'virginal' dress! I was caught up in the magazine Dev's (pretending to be) reading. lol.

I wonder if Joseph is "one of them", too.

Sebastian's mother is creepy, and I admire how Alicia was able to hold her ground until Sebastian 'rescued' her. His mother is very bluntly passive aggressive to the point of being offensive. What a scary woman.

I love Alicia's outfit when she's on that first date. She looks so radiant there, despite the sadness and turbulence underneath.

The races - a perfect scene. Brilliance from Cary and Ingrid. They're so in love but are trapped in this web and the way they try to hurt each other with those razor sharp words is so powerful. This is a real grownup love story. It makes my heart ache every time I watch it.
The writing is excellent!

I like how Sebastian's lust and other assorted emotions cause him to force Alicia into his house, which ultimately causes his demise. Zing!

Another scene that gets me every time - when she asks for 'permission' to marry Sebastian. Again, they are phenomenal; it's all in the eyes when they look at each other... I get the feeling that she's practically begging for him to tell her no, don't marry Sebastian. But he's angry and jealous, and when he leaves the room so abruptly, I always like to think that he goes into the washroom and cries his heart out. A real man isn't afraid to cry. lol.
When he says, "And he thinks you're in love with him?" and she replies, "Yes, that's what he thinks" - for some reason I always, always hear her slightly stress the word "thinks", and move her head forward just a bit, as though to convince Dev that she doesn't love Sebastian. Maybe it's just my mind playing tricks on me. But I swear, I see it this way, every single time. Is it just me?
But why would Devlin word it that way, as opposed to saying "And you're in love with him?" Is he scared of her answer? And we have established that he doesn't believe she loves him, doesn't believe in her 'daisies and buttercups', no?

Sigh @ Mel Berns. Luckily Ingrid is beautiful enough to withstand that hairstyle! The dress helps, too <3

I always liked Dev's line about how if they invited him to the party to see how happily married they were: "then the horrid passion I have for you might be torn out of me." What a script.

What can I say about the famous key shot that hasn't already been said? Pure genius.
The whole party kept me in suspense. Brilliant. I can't believe Alicia overlooked that one bit, about possibly running out of alcohol. !!
That kiss by the back door = YES.

Interesting fact about them using the plank while filming; thanks for that info! :)
Ingrid really was very tall, especially by actresses' standard those days. Wow. She's seriously not much shorter than Cary, who had to have been at least 6', maybe 6'1". I can imagine the woes of all her 'average height' leading men, including Claude Rains.

And just like that, they decide to poison her so she dies slowly, unsuspectingly. That is so scary.

About Me

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An avid Ingrid Bergman fan, I am a student of her life and work as well as film, filmmaking and Classic Film in general. I have my M.F.A. in TV/Film Production from USC School of Cinematic Arts and have been making a living in the business they call show. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @alexis_morrell