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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Commentaries by Hitchcock film scholar Marian Keane and film historian Rudy Behlmer, editor of Memo from David O. Selznick
  • Complete broadcast of the 1948 Lux Radio Theatre adaptation, starring Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten
  • Rare production, publicity, and rear projection photos, as well as promotional posters and lobby cards
  • Production correspondence
  • Collection of trailers and teasers
  • Script excerpts of deleted scenes and alternate endings
  • Excerpts from the short story "The Song of the Dragon," source material for Notorious
  • - Rare newsreel footage of Bergman and Hitchcock

Notorious


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock
Starring: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Louis Calhern, Leopoldine Konstantin, Moroni Olsen, Ivan Triesault, Alex Minotis, Wally Brown
1946 | 102 Minutes | Licensor: Buena Vista Home Entertainment

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #137 | Out of print
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: October 16, 2001
Review Date: January 3, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

In Notorious, a brilliant allegory of love and betrayal, Hitchcock fuses two of his favorite elements: suspense and romance. A beautiful woman with a tainted past (Ingrid Bergman) is enlisted by American agent Devlin (Cary Grant) to spy on a ring of Nazis in post-war Rio. Her espionage work becomes life-threatening after she marries the most debonair of the Nazi ring, Alex (Claude Rains). Only Devlin can rescue her, but to do so he must face his role in her desperate situation and acknowledge that he's loved her all along. Stunning performances, Ben Hecht's excellent script, and Hitchcock's direction at its best make Notorious a perfect film.

Forum members rate this film 9.1/10

 

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PICTURE

The Criterion Collection presents Notorious in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, dual-layered DVD. The image has also not been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Long out-of-print (and now replaced by a new Blu-ray from Criterion that utilizes a new 4K restoration) this original DVD looks fairly good for what it is. Sharpness is strong, but on occasion the image will go soft and somewhat hazy, more than likely thanks to a soft-focus, but other times are a little more questionable. The black and white image delivers deep, dark blacks and bright whites that aren't too bright or over-bearing, the entire image presenting good contrast and excellent gray levels. The photography of the film looks fantastic.

Print damage is a bit of a constant, though, even though it looks things have still been cleaned up extensively. The flaws that exist range between bits of debris and a few scratches, a few frame jumps, but that's about it. Grain is still there and looks fine, but compression dampers thing a bit. Though the newer release is next to flawless, this release was, for the time, offered an exceptional image.

7/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Criterion presents a Dolby Digital 1.0 mono track. It's a good mono track, delivering some range and fidelity, but it can get a little harsh during higher moments. There is some noticeable background noise but damage is otherwise limited.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion has also included a wonderful assortment of supplements. The disc includes two audio commentaries, a new one for this edition featuring scholar Marian Keane and another by historian Rudy Behlmer, recorded originally for their LaserDisc edition. Iím not a fan of Keaneís commentary tracks in general because she can kind of take the fun out of things, though balances that out by basically recognizing everything in a frame as a phallus. Iím exaggerating of course but I do a lot of eye rolling with her tracks. There is of course a lot of sexual tension in the film so she might not be too far off the mark sometimes but it can be a bit much. Still, itís an interesting perspective to get in reading Hitchcockís images, and she does a nice job going over his editing and visual techniques, which are always so subtle and easy to miss, and she does point out a lot of things.

Still, I prefer Behlmerís track, even itís probably a safer, general track. He focuses more on the production and technical aspects of the film, giving us anecdotes, camera techniques and bits about the cast and working with Hitchcock on the set. It's fairly detailed and rather enjoyable and if I had to pick between the two commentaries, I would definitely say go with this one, but itís still great to have the options.

We now move onto other supplements. "Song of the Dragon" presents excerpts from the original story that influenced the film. While Selznick had purchased the rights for the story, the movie ended up differing so much that is was decided not to even mention the story in the credits. Presented here are just portions that remain similar to the film, though I must say I still don't see too much of a resemblance even in these portions. At the end you also get illustrations that appeared with the story in The Saturday Evening Post.

Like their DVD editions of Rebecca and Spellbound, we also get Production Correspondence. In here you will find letters from Selznick, Bergman and others. It goes through them in chronological order so you can see the development, starting with Selznick getting the rights to the story and then trying to find a thriller for Hitchcock to do, to Bergman fearing the movie might become a propaganda film (which she apparently hates). There's also letters from the Production Code, which insists on many cuts, namely sexual references, and there is even one by J. Edgar Hoover, who is upset by the presentation of the FBI in the script (the Devlin character was changed slightly). I like these and highly recommend going through them. A nice effort by Criterion for this section alone.

A rather cool section devoted to Rear Projection presents textual information stating the problems with the technique, as well as behind-the-scene photos and clips from the film where rear projection was used. Another neat little "mixed-media" presentation.

There are also sections devoted to deleted scenes and another to an alternate ending. These are only available in script format, Criterion even placing events from the film before and after the deleted scene so you can see it's placement. There are also 5 alternate endings, which are presented in the form of a treatment. Since I love the ending the way it was, I can't say I like any of these, but they work in showing how they tried to make everything come together in a clean and satisfactory way.

The Fate of the Unica Key is an interesting little feature. Lasting about 2 minutes and 30 seconds, Marian Keane, over stills and film clips, recounts an AFI Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony for Hitchcock where she gives him the Unica Key from the film, which was apparently a good luck charm to both her and Grant, who had given it to her. Since Keane didn't present the key as some sort of phallic symbol, I found it a rather charming little anecdote (though if I recall from the commentary, this is mentioned, except that Bergman had unintentionally given Hitchcock the wrong key, only to give him the correct one later).

Criterion has also included the full radio broadcast of the Lux Radio Theater adaptation of Notorious, which lasts about a year.In it Joseph Cotten plays Devlin and Bergman yet again plays Alicia. It lasts about an hour and also has a short textual bit explaining the history of the radio theater and also gives a list of the players in this particular adaptation.

And then a cool little throw-in feature called EXTRA! Arrival at Heathrow presents a 45-second British news reel clip of Bergman arriving in England.

You also get a collection of Production stills and Publicity stills as well as theatrical and teaser trailers. There is also your typical Criterion insert with an excellent essay by William Rothman.

Mostly textual the supplements still offer a very fascinating look into the production and the relationship between Selznick and Hitchcock. Most of these have been unfortunately dropped in the Blu-ray so collectors may see some worth in seeking this edition out for them.

7/10

CLOSING

The new Blu-ray outshines this edition in every way, but this edition still contains some exclusive material that has been dropped in the new one for some reason. Still, for the time, it was a solid edition for the film.


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