Thursday, April 27, 2006

Notorious

1946
RKO Radio Pictures
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Length: 101 min.
Country: USA
Format: DVD
Date Viewed: 16 April, 2006

Francois Truffaut considered Notorious to be "the single work that provides the fullest representation of Hitchcock’s art" (http://www.criterionco.com/asp/release.asp?id=137&eid=152§ion=essay). I concur in full.

All of the standard Hitchcockian devices appear in this film: the beautiful blonde leading lady, the dashing male lead, the dark comedy, the MacGuffin, the inventive cinematography, the careful building of suspense with little or no action, his cameo quietly tucked into the film. It's all very well done, especially the flashy (by today's standards, even) and fun photography by Ted Tetzlaff - his last and best known film as cinematographer.

And yet, Notorious feels a bit underwhelming by the time it's over. Everything we've come to know and love about Hitch's body of work is present and accounted for, but the story doesn't strike a terribly strong chord. The biggest issue is the highly mechanical feeling to the chain of events in the film's narrative through-line. Instead of feeling brief and shorn of fat (and it is on the whole), Ben Hecht's script ends up feeling like it was hurriedly written with little care outside of plugging controversial topics (Nazis on the run and uranium) into a formulaic structure. As a result, the film is an especially light slice of Hitch's proverbial cake. A delicious slice of cake, but a very light one nonetheless.

1 Comments:

Blogger AH Films said...

Notorious...one of the few Hitchcock movies I haven't seen yet. What's wrong with me?!

Hey, I notice you've reviewed a couple of Hitchcock films already. They're really well written, especially the one you wrote about Vertigo. You should comment about your favourites on Alfred Hitchcock Films.

26 May, 2006 18:46  

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