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Notorious (1946) is a thriller film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains as three people whose lives become intimately entangled during an espionage operation.


Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman), the American daughter of a convicted Nazi spy, is recruited by government agent T. R. Devlin (Cary Grant) to infiltrate a group of Germans who have relocated to Brazilmarker after World War II.

While awaiting the details of her assignment in Rio de Janeiromarker, Alicia falls in love with Devlin. His feelings for her are complicated by his knowledge of her wild past. When Devlin is ordered to convince her to seduce Alex Sebastian (Claude Rains), one of her father's friends and a member of the group, Devlin tries to convince his superiors that Alicia is not fit for the job. But upon seeing Alicia again, he puts up a stoic front, choosing duty over love. Alicia concludes that he does not love her, and she soon marries Alex to better spy on him and his associates.

Alicia and Devlin discover the key element of the plot by accident, but in the process leave a clue that her husband traces back to her. Now Alex has a problem: he must silence Alicia, but cannot expose her without being discredited by his fellow Nazis. Alex discusses the situation with his mother (Leopoldine Konstantin), who suggests that Alicia "die slowly" by poisoning. The poison is initially mixed into Alicia's coffee, and she quickly falls ill. Devlin becomes alarmed when she fails to appear at their next rendezvous. After driving to Sebastian's house, he sneaks into Alicia's quarters, where she tells him that Alex and his mother are poisoning her. After confessing his love for her, Devlin carries her out of the mansion in full view of the conspirators. Alex privately begs to go with them, but they abandon him to the non-existent mercy of the Nazis, who had previously disposed of another co-conspirator for a far lesser indiscretion.


  • Ingrid Bergman as Alicia Huberman
  • Cary Grant as T.R. Devlin, a US Secret Service agent
  • Claude Rains as Alexander "Alex" Sebastian
  • Leopoldine Konstantin, credited as "Madame Konstantin" as Madame Anna Sebastian, Alex's mother
  • Louis Calhern as Captain Paul Prescott, an officer of the US Secret Service
  • Moroni Olsen as Walter Beardsley, another Secret Service officer
  • Ricardo Costa as Dr. Julio Barbosa
  • Reinhold Schünzel as Dr. Anderson, a member of the Nazi group
  • Ivan Triesault as Eric Mathis, a Nazi conspirator
  • Eberhard Krumschmidt as Emil Hupka, another Nazi conspirator
  • Alex Minotis as Joseph, Sebastian's butler
  • Wally Brown as Mr. Hopkins
  • Sir Charles Mendl as Commodore
  • Fay Baker as Ethel

Alfred Hitchcock's cameo appearance, a signature occurrence in all of his American films, takes place at the big party in Sebastian's mansion. Hitchcock is seen drinking a glass of champagne and then quickly departing, about 60 minutes into the film.



Notorious is based on "The Song of the Dragon", a short story by John Taintor Foote which had appeared as a two-part serial in the Saturday Evening Post in 1921. Director Alfred Hitchcock and screenwriter Ben Hecht owed producer David O. Selznick a movie and a script respectively, and while collaborating on the movie Spellbound (1945), they decided to meet this obligation by developing a film inspired by Foote's story, which Hitchcock had read many years before, and to which Selznick owned the rights. Set during World War I in New Yorkmarker, "The Song of the Dragon" told the story of a theatrical producer approached by federal agents, who want his assistance in recruiting an actress he once had a relationship with to seduce the leader of a gang of enemy saboteurs.

Hitchcock felt that the first draft fell short of his expectations, leading him, at Cary Grant’s suggestion, to hire Clifford Odets to revise it. Odets, however, soon quit over Hitchcock’s request to add additional dialogue between Devlin and Alicia while she was on her deathbed.

Among the numerous changes to the original story was the introduction of the MacGuffin, a cache of uranium being held by the Nazis. At the time, it was not common knowledge that uranium was being used in the development of the atomic bomb, and Selznick had trouble understanding its use as a plot device. Indeed, Hitchcock later claimed he was followed by the FBImarker for several months after he and Hecht discussed uranium with Robert Millikan at the Caltechmarker in mid-1945. In the event, the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 9, 1945, and the release of details of the Manhattan Project, removed any doubts about its use.


Selznick, the original producer, preferred Joseph Cotten over Cary Grant for the role of Devlin. However, once Grant had been chosen, Selznick wanted his role to be increased. Selznick also pushed for the role of Sebastian’s mother to become more central to the plot.

Selznick sold Notorious to RKO for the sum of US$800,000 to help finance the production of Duel in the Sun, which was running overbudget. The package included Alfred Hitchcock, Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, and the script. Selznick was also to receive 50% of the net profits.

Notorious became the first film on which Hitchcock collaborated with Edith Head, Ingrid Bergman's outfits being the most notable outcome of this collaboration.

The movie featured a legendary on-again, off-again kiss between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman which flouted then-current Production Code regulations that restricted the length of kisses to only a couple of seconds each.

Bergman was taller than Rains - 5' 9" or 10" (1.75-1.78 m) vs. 5' 6.5" (1.69m). Hitchcock had a ramp built for one scene so that Rains would appear taller than his co-star when he walked up to her.


Bergman and Grant at a horse racing track.

Notorious premiered at Radio City Music Hallmarker in New York Citymarker on 22 July 1946 with Hitchcock, Bergman and Grant in attendance. The movie made US$4.8 million on its first theatrical American domestic release, making it one of the biggest hits of the year.

The film was entered into the 1946 Cannes Film Festival.

Claude Rains was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and Ben Hecht was nominated for an Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay.

In 2006, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congressmarker as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".


A Lux Radio Theater adaptation was broadcast on January 26, 1948, with Ingrid Bergman reprising her role as Alicia Huberman and Joseph Cotten taking Cary Grant's role of T. R. Devlin. Another radio adaptation was produced for The Screen Guild Theater, again starring Ingrid Bergman, although this time with John Hodiak, and was broadcast on January 6, 1949.

It was remade in 1992 as a TV movie of the same name, with John Shea as Devlin, Jenny Robertson as Alicia, Jean-Pierre Cassel as Sebastian, and Marisa Berenson as Katarina.

In the animated television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars the season two episode Senate Spy is almost a line for line adaptation of Notorious, even going so far as to frame the final shot of the episode the same way as the movie.

Tribute to Hitchcock

At the tribute dinner on March 7, 1979 where Hitchcock was presented with the American Film Institute’s prestigious Life Achievement Award Ingrid Bergman presented him with the prop key to the wine cellar which was featured in several famous scenes in Notorious. After filming had ended, Cary Grant had kept the key. A few years later he gave it to Bergman, saying that it had given him luck and hoped it would do the same for her. When presenting the key to Hitchcock, to his surprise and delight, she expressed the hope that it would be lucky for him as well.


Classic-era film noirs in the National Film Registry
1940-49 The Maltese Falcon |Shadow of a Doubt |Laura |Double Indemnity |Mildred Pierce |Detour

The Big Sleep |The Killers |Notorious |Out of the Past |Force of Evil |The Naked City |White Heat



  1. .
  2. McGilligan. Page 366.
  3. François Truffaut, Hitchcock/Truffaut (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967).
  4. McGilligan. Page 375.
  5. Eliot. Page 247.
  6. Eliot. Page 420.
  7. Retrieved 29 June 2008.
  8. McGilligan. Page 471.


  • Brown, Curtis F. The Pictorial History of Film Stars - Ingrid Bergman. New York: Galahad Books, 1973. ISBN 0-88365-164-5, p. 76-81
  • Humphries, Patrick. The Films of Alfred Hitchcock. Crescent Books, a Random House company, 1994 revised edition. ISBN 0-517-10292-7, p. 88-93

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