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Of all the movies that Alfred Hitchcock made while under contract to David O. Selznick, NOTORIOUS is probably the most Hitchcockian. Sure, there are the glamorous touches that earmark the film as a Selznick International production, but this romantic thriller casts a spell that is purely Hitchcock. With NOTORIOUS, Hitchcock is well on his way to building his reputation as the master of suspense. His direction is sharp and Hitchcock wrings every last bit of tension out of the plot.  NOTORIOUS opens right after the Second World War, with a Nazi collaborator being sentenced for his crimes against the United States. Because of her father’s Nazi affiliations, Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) finds herself thrust into the spotlight. Since it would be impossible to tarnish her reputation any further, Alicia engages a carefree lifestyle of a party girl as a way of forgetting her problems. Alicia’s life takes an unexpected turn when she is offered an opportunity to redeem herself and serve American interests. Enter one T.R. Devlin (Cary Grant), a U.S. intelligence agent who brings Alicia a proposal to work as a government operative.

Since her father’s former associates are well familiar with Alicia, she is the ideal candidate to infiltrate a Nazi organization operating is South America. Alicia's assignment requires her work her feminine wiles on Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), the head of the Nazi organization. Since Alicia has developed romantic feelings for Devlin, she is somewhat reluctant to take the assignment. However, Devlin is willing to place the mission before his own feeling, which forces Alicia into the arms of another man. Sebastian falls in love and quickly asks Alicia to marry him. With the blessings of her superiors, Alicia accepts Sebastian’s proposal, since they see the marriage as a unique opportunity that will allow her to get even closer to Sebastian and his associates. Of course, sleeping with the enemy has the tendency to place one’s life in jeopardy. The cast of NOTORIOUS also features Louis Calhern, Leopoldine Konstantin, Reinhold Schünzel, Moroni Olsen, Ivan Triesault, Alex Minotis, Wally Brown, Charles Mendl, Ricardo Costa, Eberhard Krumschmidt and Fay Baker.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has done a fine job with their DVD edition of NOTORIOUS. The Black and white full frame transfer provides a pleasing looking image that perfectly reflects the film's original cinematography. The image is sharp and defined when it should be, and whenever Hitchcock employed a diffusion lens on the camera, the image becomes somewhat softer. Film grain is occasionally noticeable, but for the most part the image looks quite good. Additionally, the film element is in very good shape for a film released in 1946, displaying very few age related markings. Blacks are perfectly recreated, as are the whites and subtle shades of gray in between. Additionally, contrast is relatively smooth, with only an occasional harsh moment. Digital compression artifacts remain in check throughout the presentation.

The one channel Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is clean and intelligible. Fidelity is rather limited, which is about all one can expect from sound recordings from this period. Still, the track will take a fair amount of amplification and remain sonically pleasing.

The interactive menus are very basic, supplying only access to the scene selection feature.




DVD reviews are Copyright © 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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