1. Sign-up to become a member, and most of the ads you see will disappear. It only takes 30 seconds to sign up, so join the discussion today!
    Dismiss Notice

Blu-ray Review Notorious (1946) Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Matt Hough, Jan 29, 2012.

  1. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Messages:
    21,061
    Likes Received:
    10,551
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Charlotte, NC
    Real Name:
    Matt Hough
    XenForo Template

    The pinnacle of Alfred Hitchcock’s first twenty years of moviemaking was reached with Notorious, not only one of the most stylish films ever made but possibly the greatest romantic suspense film in the history of cinema. With great stars at the fore, a sophisticated script that didn’t whitewash who the characters are or what they’re doing, and direction so taut and effortless that every moment breathes heartbreaking romance, life-threatening danger, or both, Notorious is among not only the half dozen best Hitchcock films ever made but among the half dozen greatest films ever made.



    Notorious (Blu-ray)
    Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

    Studio: MGM
    Year: 1946
    Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1   1080p   AVC codec
    Running Time: 102 minutes
    Rating: NR
    Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono English
    Subtitles: SDH

    Region: A
    MSRP: $ 24.99


    Release Date: January 24, 2012

    Review Date: January 29, 2012




    The Film

    5/5


    After learning that her father was a Nazi sympathizer, party girl Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) washes her hands of any involvement with him. Realizing her loyalty to the United States but with connections to the Germans who may be planning some kind of retaliation after the end of World War II, government officials led by Paul Prescott (Louis Calhern) recruit Alicia to do undercover work for them in Rio, hoping that they can infiltrate the operation of German-leaning Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains) by using Alicia as bait, getting him to fall in love and even marry her so she can furnish them with inside information. Her handler T.R. Devlin (Cary Grant) isn’t wild about Alicia’s participation. They’ve fallen in love while preparing her for her undercover work, but he’s loathe to tell her what to do with her life with such an important mission on the line, so she agrees to do it thinking Devlin doesn’t care what she does or whom she sleeps with.


    Ben Hecht’s dark script pulls no punches in making both of his leading characters less than angels. Alicia has problems with alcohol and is indiscriminate sexually. Devlin’s passion can be turned off in an instant leading to his being a distant man with a cold, hard shell that’s practically impenetrable. But the genius of this script and of Alfred Hitchcock’s direction is that they take these two flawed individuals and make one care immensely about their well being. Not only that, but the film’s villain Sebastian is also made a somewhat tragic figure by the end, earning audience sympathy by the simple realization that he meets his doom through an innocently-sought and earnestly-devoted love he had for Alicia despite all of his evil machinations with his German compatriots. While Hitchcock’s forward-thinking object being coveted by the spies turns out to be uranium, the real interest is always personal in his movies: will the protagonists succeed at their mission and will love find a way through an unconscionable number of obstacles? Though the film contains many inspired moments, there are two primary suspense set pieces, both superbly sustained. In the first, an elaborate party is a ruse to get Devlin into a wine cellar to snoop around for something mysterious. This fifteen minute sequence begins with an astounding dolly shot from an extreme wide shot to extreme close-up from high above to floor level, a shot even today’s computers and Steadicams would be hard pressed to match, but it continues through the party and into the cellar wherevarious mishaps and set-ups lead to major discoveries both positive and negative. Later, Alicia’s slow poisoning after being craftily discovered ends in the film’s climactic confrontations between protagonists and antagonists where, make no mistake, the glacial directing and the intensity of the performances give the film’s conclusion a most memorable kick.


    To their credit, neither Cary Grant nor Ingrid Bergman hesitates at all in playing something other than a saintly person, and both actors give performances that are among their career high points. Bergman’s tormented highs and lows are especially impressive (you honestly think she’s dying near the end even if she’d be the most beautiful corpse in the history of the screen), but Grant’s usual subtle reactions as he struggles with feelings of love and revulsion for Alicia are no less remarkable. Claude Rains is also a notable presence as the lovesick charlatan, putty in his wife’s hands until he discovers the truth about her. He scored one of the film’s two Oscar nominations (the other was for Ben Hecht’s script) in another first-rate portrayal. Madame Konstantin is all steely archness and stiff propriety as Sebastian’s suspicious mother while Louis Calhern makes for a suave head of the undercover operation in Rio.



    Video Quality

    4/5


    The film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.33:1 is presented in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. While this is the least impressive of the three MGM/Hitchcock transfers, at its best, it can certainly stand tall with either Rebecca or Spellbound. However, there do seem to be more dust specks, nicks, and small scratches that pop up intermittently through the presentation. There are also some odd set up shots that appear more digital than they should. Most of the images are so clear, however, that the process photography used extensively in placing the actors in Rio reveals itself very self-consciously. Grayscale is good with whites that just occasionally bloom and blacks that don’t reach the deepest levels possible. The film has been divided into 24 chapters.



    Audio Quality

    3.5/5


    The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 sound mix is also the most problematic of the three MGM/Hitchcock releases. While most of it is nicely presented with always intelligible dialogue and decent resonance for Roy Webb’s music score and for the sound effects, there is occasional low hiss which can be heard and also some muffled crackle which makes itself known on occasion.



    Special Features

    5/5


    There are two audio commentaries, both by USC film professors. Rick Jewell’s commentary concentrates on what he calls “contextual” concerns: the histories of RKO, David Selznick, Ben Hecht, and Alfred Hitchcock over the course of their careers. Drew Casper meanwhile analyzes the film in his usual breathless style of fast talking and some repetition of ideas but certainly making a case for the film as one of Hitchcock’s best and his own personal favorite.


    An isolated music and effects track is offered for those interested.


    All of the video featurettes are presented in 480i.


    “The Ultimate Romance: The Making of Notorious is a 28 ¼-minute documentary featuring film historians such as Peter Bogdanovich, Richard Schickel, Drew Casper, and many others picking apart the film’s component parts: Ben Hecht, David Selznick, the casting of the leads, personal Hitchcock touches, and its three potential endings in an interesting vignette.


    “Alfred Hitchcock: The Ultimate Spymaster” concentrates on Hitchcock’s espionage films and how their innovations would give rise later on to James Bond and the spy spoofs of the late 1960s. This runs 13 ¼ minutes.


    “The American Film Institute Award: The Key to Hitchcock” offers 3 ¼ minutes of excerpts from the AFI ceremony where Hitchcock received the lifetime achievement award a year before his death.


    Two sets of audio interviews concerning the making of Notorious are excerpted. Peter Bogdanovich’s 1963 interview runs 2 ¼ minutes. Hitchcock’s conversation with Francois Truffaut lasts 16 ¼ minutes (with the intrusive translator who may prove a distraction to the listener).


    The 1948 radio version of Notorious featuring Joseph Cotton and Ingrid Bergman is presented in its 59 ½-minute entirety.


    Contest entry word: cellar


    A restoration comparison montage featuring examples of the 113 hours of restoration work which went into the disc presentation runs for 2 ¾ minutes.


    The theatrical trailer runs for 2 ½ minutes.



    In Conclusion

    4.5/5 (not an average)


    Notorious, one of the greatest films in the history of Hitchcock and Hollywood, receives a welcome high definition transfer with all of the bonus features from the 2008 DVD release carried over into this new edition. Highly recommended!




    Matt Hough

    Charlotte, NC

     
  2. Adam Gregorich

    Owner

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 1999
    Messages:
    16,171
    Likes Received:
    1,007
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    The Other Washington
    Real Name:
    Adam
    We have one copy of Notorious to give away to a lucky HTF member. To enter send an email to contest 'at' hometheaterforum.com with the code word in the subject line, and you user name, full name and address in the body of the email. The word can be found hidden in Matt's official HTF review above. Winners must have a US or Canadian shipping address, be over 18 and a member of HTF. The winner will be drawn at random from all emails received with the correct code word in the subject line. Contest runs through Sunday 2/5/12. Good luck!
     
  3. AlexNH

    AlexNH Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2010
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    24
    Trophy Points:
    10
    Real Name:
    Alex Koutroubas
    Does anyone know why this Blu-ray is out of print?
     
  4. atfree

    atfree Producer

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2012
    Messages:
    3,606
    Likes Received:
    3,163
    Trophy Points:
    4,110
    Location:
    Boiling Springs, South Carolina
    Real Name:
    Alex
    Not 100% sure...but I believe ABC owns the Selznick Hitchcock films and licensed them to MGM for these 2012 releases. Apparently, the license ran out.
     
    Josh Steinberg likes this.
  5. AlexNH

    AlexNH Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Dec 15, 2010
    Messages:
    125
    Likes Received:
    24
    Trophy Points:
    10
    Real Name:
    Alex Koutroubas
    I wonder if Criterion will pick it up?
     
  6. Cranston37

    Cranston37 Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2016
    Messages:
    1,832
    Likes Received:
    1,149
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    Real Name:
    .
    I keep waiting for them to release "Sabotage" - they've had a nice print of it on Hulu/FilmStruck and iTunes for years...
     
  7. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2005
    Messages:
    4,428
    Likes Received:
    1,483
    Trophy Points:
    4,110
    Real Name:
    Joel Henderson
    They've tried for years to get the rights back along with the other ABC Films title they sublicensed from Anchor Bay, Straw Dogs. But apparently Disney just ain't playing ball.
     
  8. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    44,313
    Likes Received:
    19,967
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    Looks like they're playing ball now.:)
     
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    44,313
    Likes Received:
    19,967
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    Now, we know why its out of print.
     

Share This Page