NOTORIOUS was a smash hit in 1946, the seventh most popular at registers, earning $4,800,000. Marking a new level in director Alfred Hitchcock’s evolving career (ditto personal fixations over his leading ladies and his mother issues) it was the fourth highest earner of the suspense maestro’s output and for his elegant star duo Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman it likewise notched their third and sixth biggest box office coups. Critics loved it as well, noting its smoothly accomplished direction, polished Ben Hecht screenplay, exotic locale (Rio de Janeiro, albeit with rear projection), and timely atomic espionage story unspooling in a svelte 101 minutes.
Federal agent Grant romances a smartly sexy Ingrid (a knockout: best actress of the era?), who is coerced into infiltrating a postwar Nazi cell operating in Brazil. They’re headed by urbane Claude Rains and his dominating, cold-as-swastika mother (Leopoldine Constantin). Uranium in champagne bottles, anyone? Relax and drink your poison.
Famous for Alfred’s circumnavigating the censors kiss-straightjacket by letting Cary and Ingrid peck and lip-brush each other for two and a half minutes, breaking every three seconds to stay inside Code strictures. Such a naughty fellow.
Good camerawork from Ted Tetzlaff, though the lackluster score from Roy Webb adds little. No action, just slow-building tension, abetted by good turns from Louis Calhern, Ivan Triesault (no mercy in those eyes) and Reinhold Schunzel.
Oscar nominated for Rains as Supporting Actor and for its Script, which includes the great ‘thanks, Mom’ line “You are protected by the enormity of your stupidity.”