STARRING: Cary Grant as Devlin, Ingrid Bergman as Alicia and Claude Rains as Alexander Sebastian
RELEASE DATE: September 6, 1946
THE DIRECTOR: Alfred Hitchcock
THE CLASSIC MOMENT: In an intense scene, Devlin attempts to rescues Alicia.
When we think of Alfred Hitchcock it’s so easy to remember how good he was at suspense and terror that sometimes we forget he was also the master of romance. Just look at Rebecca with Joan Fontaine and Laurence Olivier as one example, a gothic masterpiece. However, with numerous romances on his film resume, one that particularly stands out is Notorious. Known for having one of the most famous kisses in movie history (Hitchcock found a way around the Production Code’s ban on the 3 second kiss rule by breaking up their kiss with talking) between Grant and Bergman, it’s a classic romance worth remembering.
Still, as great as the kiss is, it’s not the moment I want to highlight. Rather it’s the climactic final moments of the film. So if you haven’t seen Notorious and don’t want to be spoiled, continue reading at your own peril…
Notorious tells the post World War II story of Alicia Huberman, who after watching her German father be convicted for treason, turns to drinking and partying. At a party, Agent Devlin befriends Alicia and convinces her to spy on her father’s old Nazi friends in Rio de Janeiro. In Rio a romance develops between them, but there is a sense of mistrust between the two. When Alicia is given her assignment to seduce the Nazi who was in love with her before, she accepts the assignment because Devlin doesn’t seem to mind (she thinks he doesn’t love her). She then does whatever it takes, including marrying a dangerous man she doesn’t love, to accomplish her mission to find out what he and his Nazi friends are up to. Eventually she is discovered to be a spy by her husband Sebastian and he and his mother slowly poison her so as not to draw suspicion on himself. If the others in the group find out he married a spy, they’ll kill him. Devlin suspects something’s wrong and attempts to save her.
THE CLASSIC ROMANTIC MOMENT:
Devlin makes his way up the mansion stairs of her husband’s house to find Alicia.
Inside her room he finds her lying sickly on the bed. He appears out of the shadows.
“Alicia, Alicia,” Devlin whispers. She holds her hand out for his. He leans in close to her on the bed, whispering. “Alicia, what’s wrong with you?” he asks.
“I’m so glad you came,” she says. Their faces touch.
“I had to. I couldn’t stand any more waiting and worrying about you. That wasn’t a hangover you had that day. You were sick then. What is it?”
Alicia strokes his cheek glad he now sees the truth. “Yes, I was sick then,” she answers.
“What’s wrong with you Alicia? What is it dear, what’s wrong with you?” he asks in desperation.
“They’re poisoning me. I couldn’t get away from them. I tried but I was too weak,” she explains feebly.
“Since the party. Alex and his mother found out.”
“Come on. Try and sit up,” Devlin commands worried. He takes her by the back of the neck and lifts her to a sitting position. “Sit up. I’m going to get you out of here.”
“I thought you had gone,” Alicia confesses.
“No. I had to see you once to make my peace. I was getting out because I love you. I couldn’t bear seeing you and him together,” he explains.
Alicia hugs him, overcome with joy. “Oh, you love me?” she exclaims in surprise. “Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“I know. But I couldn’t see straight or think straight. I was a fat-headed guy full of pain. It tore me up not having you,” he answers.
Now more confident, Alicia cries, “Oh, you love me. You love me.”
“Long ago. All the time since the beginning,” he admits. Devlin picks up her robe on the bed. “We need to put on your robe. Come on.” Devlin helps her put on the robe.
“Try to sit up,” he coaxes. Alicia puts on the robe as she kisses his face.
“Oh Dev. I’m afraid I can’t make it. They gave me pills to sleep.”
Now even more concerned, Devlin replies, “Keep awake. Keep talking. Have you got a coat?” She tells him she has a coat in the closet. They quickly kiss and pull apart.
“They didn’t want the others to know about me,” Alicia explains. Devlin grabs her coat and brings it to her.
“Go on. What happened? What happened?” Devlin asks with urgency, trying to keep her awake.
“Alex found out.”
“And the others haven’t?”
“They’d kill him if they knew. They killed Emil,” Alicia clarifies.
Devlin asks if she’s in pain as he tries to help her to her feet. Confused by the pills she’s taken, she claims to not know.
“On your feet,” Devlin orders worried.
“Say it again, it keeps me awake,” Alicia pleads.
“I love you. Stand up.” He helps Alicia to her feet.
As she stands up, Alicia tries to tell him what the Nazis are up to. Devlin supports her as they walk and she talks. They cross the bedroom making their way to the door.
“The sand comes from the Imorez mountains,” Alicia reveals.
“We’ll find it,” Devlin reassures her.
Alicia reveals more as they continue to make their exit. He reminds her that they’ll take care of it later.
“Come on, keep awake, keep walking,” Devlin implores.
“Oh, I’m afraid. Dev, I’m afraid. They’re all in the house. We can’t make it.”
Devlin looks out the bedroom door before entering the empty hallway. They stand at the top of the stairs looking down toward their exit. It’s quite a ways to go without getting caught.
“Don’t ever leave me,” Alicia pleads.
“You’ll never get rid of me again,” Devlin reassures her.
“Never tried to,” she tells him.
Suddenly Devlin sees Sebastian coming up the stairs. He warns Alicia to brace up. Sebastian sees them at the top of the stairs.
“What are you doing, Alicia?” Sebastian asks her. He then turns to Devlin. “What is this, Mister Devlin?”
“I’m taking her to the hospital to get the poison out of her,” he admits.
Playing dumb, “Poison?” he asks.
“How’d you like your friends downstairs to know? They’ve yet to be told.” Devlin warns.
Madame Sebastian then appears from her bedroom. Sebastian tells Devlin he’s going to take Alicia back to her room.
“I’ll raise quite a rumpus if you try,” Devlin threatens him. He points out that he has a gun in his pocket. Madame Sebastian joins them on the stairs.
“Alex? He knows?” Madame Sebastian asks her son?
“Yes,” he answers.
The voice of Dr. Anderson is heard from below. “What is happening, Alex?” He comes out of the study and stands in the entry hall below them.
“Alicia!” Madame Sebastian calls out.
“She’s worse?” he asks. Madame Sebastian confirms it.
In a whisper, Alica pleads to Devlin, “Go.”
“All right, dear, we’re going, we’re going.”
Alicia and Devlin head slowly down the staircase as Doctor Anderson watches. It’s an intense moment. Sebastian and his mother must go along with Devlin so as not to stir suspicion. Their lives are at stake as well now.
“You haven’t forgotten what they did to Emil, have you, Sebastian?” Devlin questions him as a reminder.
The group continues to descend slowly down the stairs. Two others, Eric Mathis and Rossner enter the hall standing next to Doctor Anderson. The suspense builds.
“Help him, Alex,” Madame Sebastian pleads, afraid.
Devlin whispers to her. “I’m glad you have a head on you, Madame.”
Sebastian does nothing and becomes defiant. “I’m not afraid to die,” he claims.
Calling his bluff, “You’ve got your chance here and now. Tell them who she is.
They slowly approach the menacing men below. Dr. Anderson asks if they need any help and wonders where they’re taking Alicia. “You answer that one, Sebastian,” Devlin commands. Sebastian still says nothing, stubborn His mother grows more worried.
“To the hospital,” Madame calls out. She turns to her son whispering and pleading, “Alex, talk to them, quick.”
“Glad she’s going. Should not have waited so long, Alex,” Dr. Anderson scolds.
The group comes near the bottom of the stairs. Devlin puts his hand in his pocket holding onto his gun. Devlin whispers to Sebastian. “Well, what am I going to do, start shooting?”
Devlin then whispers quietly to the frightened and weakened Alicia, “Hold on, darling, you’ve only got about twenty yards to go.”
The men question Sebastian as to what has happened to Alicia. Suddenly the terror and reality of the moment hits Sebastian. He decides to fully go along with Devlin’s plan so he won’t be killed by the men below.
Coming out of a daze, “Oh, uh, sh-she collapsed. Mister Devlin heard her scream and was waiting for me.” He turns to Alicia. “Come on, Alicia,” Sebastian pleads. Devlin holds onto her.
“Yes, I telephoned the hospital as soon as I saw how she was,” Devlin explains.
“You have a car, Mister Devlin?” Madame Sebastian asks.
“Out in front,” he answers.
The men ask Madame Sebastian if she’s going with them, but she tells them she plans to stay behind since her son can call her from the hospital.
They’re all in the entry hall now. Doctor Anderson opens the front door so they can help Alicia outside and into the car up front. The men watch as Devlin, Sebastian and Alicia make their way outside. The suspense reaches its climax as they head out the door. Will the men figure out what they’re all up to?
“How do you feel?” Devlin asks Alicia.
“A bit dizzy,” she replies.
“Take some deep breaths,” Devlin tells her.
Sebastian mutters quietly. “Hurry, hurry.”
He opens the passenger side door of the car. Devlin helps Alicia into the car and then jumps in behind her shutting the door on Sebastian. They’ve made it.
“Now, just a minute, I must sit with her,” Sebastian pleads.
“No room, Sebastian,” Devlin says coldly.
Devlin locks the passenger door and moves into the driver’s seat. Sebastian continues to plead through the window.
“But you must take me. They’re watching me,” Sebastian exclaims.
“That’s your headache,” Devlin replies completely uncaring. He starts the car with Alicia smiling happily as they drive away.
In a panic Sebastian calls after them, but to no avail. The men watch him from the doorway. They discover that the room had no telephone to call the hospital and put the pieces together. They ask Sebastian to come in. Dread overcomes his face as he slowly makes his way up the stairs and heads inside. They close the door, Sebastian’s fate sealed.
The ending of Notorious is both passionate and suspenseful and is definitely one of the greatest classic romantic moments in cinema history.
Have you seen Notorious? What did you think of the ending? Let me know in the comments!