Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Notorious (1946)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Notorious (1946)

In this vintage Alfred Hitchcock, noirish suspense thriller and spy-story concerning international intrigue and a passionate yet perverse romance - this was Hitchcock's ninth Hollywood film. It was a highly-acclaimed, post-WWII noirish spy thriller/romance set in Brazilian South America. The master of suspense created a compelling spy mission interwoven with a romantic love story.

The dark, intricate film was thematically concerned with both political (and sexual) betrayal and issues of trust, friendship, and duty embodied in the characters' relationships. An intense love triangle formed between the three principals: the Nazi villain, an undercover federal agent, and a beautiful "notorious" female. After being recruited to seduce a loving Axis enemy-leader and ingratiate herself by marrying him, and then betraying him as part of her pledge to the US government, the female began to feel perilous menace from both the man she really loved - an icy, seemingly insensitive and cruel American intelligence agent on the assignment - and her newly-wed husband, a man who was also fixated with and controlled by his overcritical, partly-jealous mother figure.

The film featured the most famous marathon screen kiss in film history, a tremendous zoom shot toward a view of a wine cellar key, the wine cellar sequence, and the staircase-descending finale.

  • in the opening sequence in April of 1946 in Miami, FL at a US District Court, traitorous Nazi Germany spy John Huberman (Fred Nurney), shown only from a rear view, was tried and convicted (for the war crime of treason), and sentenced to a 20 year prison term
  • his American-born daughter - a promiscuous, alcoholic, alluring play-girl socialite Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman), had attended the trial and exited from the proceedings in a black, broad-brimmed hat; she was quickly hounded and questioned by reporters
  • that evening, a decadent party was hosted by the confused Alicia (wearing a horizontally-striped top with a bare waist) in her middle-class Miami bungalow; she exhibited her self-destructiveness from overdrinking: (Alicia: "The important drinking hasn't started yet"); one of the unknown guests was a "handsome" man viewed only from behind as a darkened, silhouette of a head; the plan of the antagonized "marked" woman was to escape the attentions of the press and police - and her entire existence - by leaving the next day for a holiday on a sailing cruise ship to Havana with the Commodore (Charles Mendl)
  • the anonymous, silent, dark stranger and Alicia had survived her party when it ended after all the guests left; she suggested a joy-ride; it turned out to be a drunken 80 mph challenge with the man as her captive passenger: ("I want to make it 80 and wipe that grin off your face. I don't like gentlemen who grin at me") before being chased and stopped by a motorcycle cop; it was then that the individual was identified
  • manipulative and shady American CIA agent T.R. Devlin (Cary Grant) had to reveal himself to the cop as a US government agent to save her from prosecution; the antagonized Alicia was furious with him for being deceptive as a "double-crossing buzzard - you're a cop!...a federal cop crashing my're trailing me to get something on me"; he took over the wheel by knocking her out with a punch (slightly hidden from view)
  • the next morning after she awoke with an intense hang-over, Alicia was required to drink a remedy by her bedside prepared by Devlin; in a visually distorted, point-of-view shot, Alicia's head spun 180 degrees and she saw him standing above her - upside-down

The Next Morning, Alicia Was Forced to Drink a Hangover-Remedy

Alicia's Disoriented POV of Devlin
  • he explained his ploy - he was an American intelligence officer with a secret mission to draft and enlist the promiscuous Alicia to infiltrate and spy (similar to Mata Hari) inside the Rio de Janeiro home of her father's old associates ("German gentry"); a number of Brazil-based, Axis-power Nazi Germans, mostly executives and scientists, had moved to Rio de Janiero after WWII to live there incognito, in order to set up an evil German cartel (one of them was Alicia's former suitor, although she wasn't informed until later)
  • at first, she refused to be involved in Devlin's "rotten schemes": ("Go away and leave me alone. I have my own life to lead. Good times. That's what I want, and laughs with people I like. And no underhanded cops who want to put me up in a shooting gallery, but people of my own kind, who treat me right and like me and understand me"); he attempted to sway her by appealing to her sense of patriotism, and she agreed; she canceled her holiday plans, reluctantly agreed to the mission, and took a plane the next day to Rio with Devlin
  • [Note: Devlin was informed by his Allied espionage boss Paul Prescott (Louis Calhern) that the German-American Huberman committed suicide by taking a poisoned capsule in his jail cell.] Alicia explained how her father's betrayal had caused her to lack self-respect and she had become a self-destructive, hard-drinking, promiscuous, 'notorious' playgirl
  • once they arrived together in Rio de Janiero and enjoyed drinks of champagne in a Rio cafe, they began to play a cat-and-mouse romantic game; although he had a growing interest in her, he also was hesitant about her alcoholism and her loose reputation when she proudly claimed that she was a changed and reformed woman; she teased and berated the cool, indifferent, distant, and sometimes nasty Devlin about his unflappable, repressed romantic emotions; she believed that he was merely pretending to love her as part of his duty and mission, and was afraid of falling in love with her; she told him: "Poor Dev, in love with a no-good gal. It must be awful. I'm sorry" - when she actually wanted him to tell her that he really loved her; to prove her wrong, Devlin passionately grabbed and kissed her
Rio de Janeiro Kisses on Balcony and During a Phone Call
("This is a very strange love affair...Maybe the fact that you don't love me")
  • there was a passionate three-minute kissing scene in her apartment between Devlin and Alicia [Note: At the time, it was regarded as longest kiss in film history (to date) - in order to bypass the Production Code's restriction on a screen clinch beyond three seconds long.] it began on a scenic Rio de Janeiro hotel balcony over the beach in Alicia's apartment, and was entirely shot in a tight closeup of their faces; they rapidly alternated passionate, clinging kisses and whispered endearments, and then continued with nibbling bites and nuzzling hugs as they walked from the balcony to the telephone (where he engaged in a conversation) and then to the front door
  • during part of their conversation when he was dialing the telephone (calling his hotel for his messages), Alicia told him: "This is a very strange love affair" - and he asked why as she kissed him. Then she replied: "Maybe the fact that you don't love me"; after connecting with the hotel on the phone, he responded as he kissed her: "When I don't love you, I'll let you know"; when she further stated: "You haven't said anything," he told her: "Actions speak louder than words"; he was called away to Prescott's office, and they planned to rendezvous together for 7 pm dinner; Devlin bought a bottle of champagne that he planned to take with him
  • in the Embassy in a meeting with Prescott, Devlin (now that he had fallen in love with Alicia) disagreed with Alicia's assignment to be an undercover agent - arguing that she didn't have experience and training in that kind of work, although he knew otherwise; he was told that Alicia was the perfect confederate candidate to serve as sexual bait and infiltrate into the Nazi hideout of her father's old associates: ("Sebastian's house is a cover-up, for whatever this Farben group's up to here in Rio. We've got to get Miss Huberman inside that house and find out what's going on there"). Devlin became considerably upset when he learned that Alicia had not been told that the enemy leader (a "Farben man") was lead neo-Nazi scientist Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), one of Alicia's former rejected suitors; as Devlin departed to see Alicia for dinner, he left behind the bottle of champagne on the table
  • when Devlin returned to Alicia as she prepared a chicken dinner, she realized that he had noticeably cooled and on the balcony, she asked him: "What's the matter?"; she then learned that she was to renew relations with a former suitor: ("You've got to work on him and land him"); he explained to her that her work assignment was to reacquaint herself with Sebastian, part of the Nazi contingent. She was to exploit her sexuality and attractiveness like agent "Mata Hari"
  • she reacted with hurt that he didn't turn down her assignment, or defend her character as a "new Miss Huberman," but just acquiesed and said nothing: ("Did you say anything? I mean, that maybe I wasn't the girl for such shenanigans?...What you didn't tell them, tell me! That you believe I'm nice, and that I love you, and I'll never change back"); after begging for his love, she was more upset that he had turned cool and indifferent toward her; Devlin claimed the job was her decision: ("It's up to you"); significantly, after telling him: "Just down the drain with Alicia," she went inside, and took a drink from an uncorked bottle - framed behind the balcony window; their candlelight dinner on the balcony was aborted
  • however, in spite of Devlin, Alicia agreed to the assignment - to form an amorous liaison with Alexander and marry him, a confederate of her father's, in order to complete the mission
Devlin and Alicia Working Together to Snag Alexander Sebastian at His Horseback Riding Club
  • Alicia began the game of courting Alex after snagging his attention during horse-back riding in the park; henceforth, Devlin sat idly by to watch as she dutifully proved her worthiness to her country by risking her life in a new affair; during dinner in a fancy lounge, Alex invited Alicia to his home to meet his mother Mme. Sebastian (Leopoldine Konstantin in her sole US film) at a small dinner party the following evening
Alicia Meeting Alex's Mother Mme Sebastian (Leopoldine Konstantin) in Alex's Mansion
  • before a formal dinner with the Sebastians and five Nazi scientists, Alicia met Alex's domineering mother, and then later as they were being seated in the dining room, Alicia happened to notice that Nazi agent Emil Hupka (Eberhard Krumschmidt) became agitated over the sight of an apparently innocent wine bottle [Note: this incident caused the other Nazi guests to later plot his elimination and murder]
  • with the dangerous espionage mission proceeding smoothly, Alicia admitted to Devlin "for the record" that she had conquered Alexander by using her experienced sexuality to convince him of her trustworthiness - she spitefully told him her attitude about being used and whoring herself for him: ("You can add Sebastian's name to my list of playmates"); uncomfortable with her revelations, the watchful American agent Devlin turned icy, punishing and sarcastic during their own cruel love affair; he became uncertain of Alicia's fickle love and loose-living past
The Lead Up to Alex's Proposal of Marriage to Alicia at the Racetrack

"You can add Sebastian's name to my list of playmates"

Spiteful Hatred Developing Between the Two

"Would you maybe care to convince me, Alicia, that Mr. Devlin means nothing to you?"
  • to spite him when Devlin didn't openly protest Alex's sudden proposal of marriage at the racetrack and refused to interfere, Alicia went ahead and agreed to marry her Nazi espionage target Alexander Sebastian to acquire access to information (including suspicious wine bottles in Alex's home); she was given official permission at the Embassy to proceed with the marriage plans; meanwhile, Alex was facing his mother's displeasing objections
  • after a brief honeymoon, the couple returned to the dark and shuttered mansion, where Alex's mother was sulking in her bed; a formal champagne party was planned to be held in Alex's mansion in the new bride's honor

The Door to the Wine Cellar - With a UNICA Key (Only One Existed)

Alicia Stealing Alex's UNICA Key - the Only Copy
  • in a tense sequence, director Hitchcock filmed an incredible, long and unbroken crane shot beginning on the second floor balcony (above the guests mingling below), in Sebastian's Rio de Janeiro mansion; the camera swooped down and zeroed in on a purloined key (secretly taken by Alicia from Alex's key ring) clenched in Alicia's hand (in closeup); the oddly-shaped key was marked with the word UNICA ("unique" in Italian) - Alex was the key's sole possessor; it was the only key that could unlock the wine cellar door where the film's MacGuffin (secret uranium supplies and ore) was presumably located; shortly later, when Devlin arrived, she passed the key to him when he kissed her hand
Formal Champagne Party to Celebrate Alex's and Alicia's Marriage in the Mansion

Start of Swooping Crane Shot

Close-Up of the Key in Alicia's Hand

The Key Was Transferred to Devlin
  • after slipping away and entering the wine cellar with the key, Devlin furtively searched for the incriminating uranium; tension was created when the champagne supply ran out upstairs in the party (visualized by the diminishing number of bottles on ice); he accidentally knocked from the shelf a bottle marked POMMARD, but found that in the shattered glass, it contained uranium ore dust (looking like black sand)
Diminishing Bottles of Champagne - The Passage of Time
  • this discovery confirmed a dastardly conspiracy by the Nazis to stockpile the material for future use in atom bombs; Devlin took a sample of the sandy substance, and then he and Alicia hastily cleaned up the mess by replacing the ore into another emptied wine bottle; they were discovered in the unauthorized location by Alex and his butler; Devlin and Alicia pretended to be having a love tryst and kissing each other, and Alicia blamed their romance on the drunken Devlin; Devlin supported Alicia's apology: "For what it's worth as an apology, your wife is telling the truth. I knew her before you, loved her before you, but I wasn't as lucky as you"; Alicia added: "Alex, don't be foolish. I-I came down because he threatened to make a scene...I couldn't stop him. I tried")
  • although Alex appeared to accept their apologies, soon after as Alex descended to the cellar with his butler Joseph to get more wine to replenish the supplies, he realized, in a gigantic close-up, that his wine cellar key was missing from his key ring

Alex Realizing That His Key Ring Was Missing the Wine Cellar Key

By Morning, the UNICA Key Was Back on His Key Ring

Alex Discovering The Tampered 1940 Wine Bottle
  • the next morning, Alex realized that his wine cellar key had been returned to his key ring overnight, and in the wine cellar, he also discovered remnants of the sand (metal ore on the floor), the tampered 1940 wine bottle, and glass shards from a broken 1934 wine bottle [Note: Alex discovered both the fake wine bottle and symbolically - the fact that his wife was also 'fake' or tampered-with.]
  • shot from a top-angle in his mother's bedroom, Alex was forced to humiliate himself and confess his marital dilemma that his new wife was a spy to his domineering, matriarchal and authoritarian mother Mme. Konstantin: ("I am married to an American agent"); as they discussed their mutual problem, his mother responded curtly: "We are protected by the enormity of your stupidity - for a time"
  • Alex feared exposing her outright to his Nazi compatriots - that would also endanger his life, as Emil had suffered earlier; she suggested silencing and eliminating Alicia by slowly poisoning her to death with arsenic-tainted coffee
  • in further developments, the sample that Devlin found was determined to not be sand but uranium; Devlin was being transferred to Spain in a week's time; during Alicia's possibly last visit with Devlin on a park bench in Rio, he thought her weak condition was from another hangover, and they each disguised their true feelings and concerns for each other
  • shortly later, Alicia became trapped in her enemy's home, where her husband continued to be oppressed by his mother; one afternoon Alicia suddenly realized that she was being drugged and in mortal danger when visiting Nazi conspirator Dr. Anderson (Reinhold Schünzel) reached for Alicia's poisoned cup (shown with ominous close-ups) and was simultaneously and hesitantly warned not to drink by both Madame and Alex; she collapses at the foot of the stairs onto the checkboard floor and was helplessly dragged upstairs and confined/imprisoned in her room to await the silence of death; Alex ordered the phone removed from her room

Alicia's Ominous Poisoned Cup of Coffee (Shown in Close-Up) in the Foreground

Alicia's Shocked Realization She Was Being Poisoned

Alicia's POV - Distorted and Blurry Vision
  • in the film's exciting and nerve-wracking finale, the sequestered, weakened and sedated Alicia was being held hostage in her second floor bedroom as she was slowly dying; the guilt-ridden Devlin, who at first believed her alibi that she was hung-over, suggested to Prescott that he should check on her by making a "social call"
  • at the mansion as Alex was detained and meeting in the study with Nazi collaborators, Devlin snuck up the stairs to speak to Alicia; after she was overjoyed to see him, she told him she was being poisoned; they confessed their love for each other, as Devlin admitted: "I was a fatheaded guy full of pain. It tore me up not having you"; she told him that they killed Emil and that she knew where the "sand" came from; at the top of the stairs as Devlin began to exit the house with Alicia, he was confronted by Sebastian; Devlin promised that if he was allowed to get Alicia out of the house and to a hospital, he wouldn't disclose to Alex's colleagues his mistake about helping the American government by having an agent as his wife
  • Devlin carried her down the staircase (it was a very long descent with an unending amount of stairs compared to his ascent earlier) in full view of a number of Nazi enemies and out to an awaiting car - reportedly to take her to the hospital; Devlin inadvertently provided one condemning and contradictory clue: "Yes, I telephoned the hospital as soon as I saw how she was"

Alicia at Top of Stairs in Devlin's Arms

Alicia Carried Down Stairs by Devlin

Tense Moments in the Front Lobby

Alicia Exiting Alex's Home with Devlin

"Alex, will you come in please?..."
Alex's Final Summons to Explain Himself to the Other Nazi Agents
  • Devlin locked the car door on Sebastian, telling him: "No room, Sebastian", as he pleaded to escape with them ("But you must take me, they're watching me"); one of the suspicious Nazis spoke out of the side of his mouth: "There is no telephone in her room to call the hospital"
  • in the conclusion - Alex received a final summons, the final line of dialogue, by one of his sinister, renegade Nazi agent superiors inside the front door entryway: Nazi conspirator Eric Mathis (Ivan Triesault) requested: "Alex, will you come in, please? I wish to talk to you"; the door shuts behind him and the film concludes

Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) Leaving Her Father's Treason Trial in 1946

T.R. Devlin (Cary Grant) With Alicia at Her Decadent Party

Alicia's Drunken 80 mph Joy-Ride Drive with Devlin Afterwards - Stopped by Motorcycle Cop

On the Plane to Rio with Devlin

Alicia In a Rio Cafe - Drinking Champagne with Devlin

Devlin Impulsively Kissing Her

In the US Embassy in Rio, Devlin's Boss Paul Prescott (Louis Calhern)

The Bottle of Champagne - Abandoned in the Boss' Office

Devlin Again with Alicia Who Asked Him: ("What's the matter?")

Alicia - Troubled That the Job Was to Seduce An Ex-Suitor - Alex Sebastian, and That Devlin Had Turned Cold to Her

Alicia Begging For Devlin to Love Her But He Was Non-Committal

Alicia Drinking By Herself - Behind The Balcony's Curtained Window

Dinner With Alex in a Fancy Restaurant

Nazi Agent Emil Hupka's Upset Over a Wine Bottle Before Formal Dinner

Alex Facing Objections From His Mother About His Marital Plans

Alicia with Devlin at Alex's Champagne Party

Pommard Wine Bottle About to Fall Off the Shelf in Wine Cellar

Uranium Sand Discovered Hidden in a Shattered Wine Bottle

Cleaning Up the Mess

Alicia and Devlin Kissing and Pretending to Have A Tryst - to Avoid Detection in Wine Cellar

Alex and Joseph Found The Two Kissing

To Alex, Alicia Blamed Her Indiscretion on Devlin's Drinking: ("He's been drinking")

Alex's Confession to His Mother, and Her Reproach of Him ("I am married to an American agent")

Alex's Mother: "We are protected by the enormity of your stupidity - for a time"

Alicia - Slowly Poisoned Over Time - With Arsenic-Tainted Coffee

Last Meeting Between Sickened Alicia and Devlin on Park Bench in Rio

Alicia Sequestered In Her Upstairs Room

Devlin's Visit: "Alicia. What's wrong with you?"

Expressing Their Love For Each Other

Carrying Alicia to the Bedroom Door


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