The Set of 400: #370 – My Favorite Wine Cellar Key

Today! Because I am married to an American agent –

Notorious (1946)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman (x2), Claude Rains, Louis Calhern, Leopoldine Konstantin, Moroni Olsen, Reinhold Schunzel, Ivan Triesault

You’ll meet some people in your time spent discussing movies who live and die by Hitchcock. I am not one of those people. No, this isn’t his only appearance on this list, but many of his most popular, highest regarded films won’t pop up here in the days to come. I don’t know, I thought his later films either silly or admirable but not lovable. Feel free to write in and complain when the list is complete, and not a day before, Birds fans! That shit is ridiculous!

I have always really enjoyed the weirdly caustic romance of Notorious, though. It’s a deep-intrigue, double-crossing tale, with this exquisitely strange relationship between Grant’s government agent Devlin and Bergman’s shattered mole Alicia at its center. It’s not a will-they-or-won’t-they romance like the word makes you envision; it’s more a will-they-be-able-to-or-will-they-die sort of love story. Claude Rains is terrific as the object of Berman’s faux affections, and was nominated for an Oscar for his work, along with the excellent screenplay by the great Ben Hecht. As you will see in days to come, I’ve always preferred the straight crime or espionage Hitchcocks to the horror/psychological terror Hitchcocks. Not exclusively, but pretty close. Again, bitch if you like, Psycho-heads, but that is some silly hokum you’ve embraced right there.

Losing both Oscars left this one like many of Hitch’s films – Oscarless! For shame! Let’s at least give it the Best Slow Motion Escapefor the terrifically tense final sequence. All those stairs! Those staring faces!

We only advanced four spaces on the great board of favorite films before running across #374’s Murder on the Orient Express Oscar winner Ingrid Bergman again!

There have to be more comfortable ways to relax, kids!

Coming tomorrow! Who am I who dares to keep his head held high while millions weep?

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