Dr. Rich Edwards

Daily Dose #12: Why Do You Care How I Feel? (Early Scene from Notorious)

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Confession: I've been in love with Ingrid Bergman for decades.

Not only because of her looks (those eyes! That nose! Those lips! Those cheekbones! I could go on and on), but because she was a very naturalistic actress. Her reactions, movement, expressions, etc., are unlike other actresses of her era.

 

As we see in this scene, for instance, she was unafraid to look messy and disheveled. Small actions like tossing away the hairpiece, or pulling a hair out of her mouth, really reinforce the fact that she's in a bad state, or perhaps better, a careless one. Wooziness and near-nausea are apparent in all her actions.

 

Hitchcock takes her Alicia out of the frame while Cary Grant's Dev puts on the phonograph of her arguing with her father. When she comes back in, she is neatened up, combing her hair and also looking abashed, both signs that she is sobering up, and becoming more self-conscious.

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1.      The “Hitchcock touches” within this scene from Notorious include:

a.       Close-ups to connect us with the feelings of the protagonist (Alicia Huberman), who starts the scene waking up.

b.      POV shots, mostly from Alicia, to help us connect to the characters. The most interesting of these is the series of shots where Devlin seems to revolve because we are seeing him from Alicia’s perspectives in bed.

c.       We saw another spinning record in The Ring, though used for a different purpose.

2.      When we first meet Alicia, shadows fill her bedroom, one seemingly representing a slatted window frame or blinds. When we first meet Devlin, he is in silhouette, making him a “negative” character from Alicia’s POV. We see them contrasted in many ways: Devlin’s suit is neat and pressed while Alicia’s clothes are rumpled, having slept in them; Devlin’s hair is neatly combed while Alicia’s is a mess, her fall even having fallen out; Devlin speaks in confident orders while Alicia speaks guardedly and low; her room (the bedroom) is messy and dark while “his” room (the living room) is bright and neat.

3.      The spot-on casting of Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant as Alicia and Devlin pull the audience in because of their glamour, their acting talent, and (for 1946 audiences, at least) our familiarity with them. Devlin often comes across as cold, since he allows his new girlfriend to sleep with the enemy, but because he’s Cary Grant, we care about him and are interested. He and Ingrid Bergman are glamorous at the party Alicia throws, the most beautiful people in the room they slip out of to see what’s behind the locked door. Their chemistry is undeniable, particularly in the next-to-last scene as Devlin finds the dying Alicia upstairs at the Sebastian mansion. Ingrid Bergman brings her elegant reserve to Alicia. Bergman especially plays well the scenes where Alicia has to observe, such as at the first dinner party at the Sebastians’.

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The lighting the focus on the close ups. Just makes the beautiful "eye candy" movie stars become magnified. They are bigger than life. The same camera angle from 39 steps The frightening Grant becomes menacing and as the angle sweeps around and turns him upside down he's more frightening. Bergmans outfit appears black and white maybe even provoking thoughts of "who is good who is evil?? " she has a bold reflective design on top and below a lovely elegant skirt.

2. The absence of music evokes a stark frank feeling. The lighting and close ups create a no nonsense scene. The room is beautiful and bed appears ripe with expensive elegant bedclothes.

3. Cary Grant was undoubtedly challenged He's not the sweet comedic character we've learned to love. This scene forces us to see a side of Grant that we are not accustomed to see. Ingrid is both sorrowful and so very sick. It's palpable. Her illness is palpable. The poison is truly ravaging her. It doesn't seem like acting. It's real.

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1.Hitchcock touches includes the close up on Alicia and the spinning POV shot of Devlin entering the room. 

 

2..The Hitchcock touches seem to be the darkness or uncertainty surrounding the Devlin character and the light on the obviously hungover Alicia character. When Devlin, (name close to Devil) enters the room the camera spins him up side down to make us more confused as to what he is after.

 

3. I believe the main characters are challenging the personas of both Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. I always think of Cary Grant as the king of the screwball comedies and it is also hard to imagine Ilsa Lund with a hangover. 

 

I noticed this too about Devlin's name. Grant even pronounces it like "devil in," which definitely makes him seem even more sinister.

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1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie?

 

The point-of-view shot is definitely part of the Hitchcock touch. You see Devlin through the eyes of the hungover Alicia and it helps put you in her shoes. The camera twirls around. You see Devlin at first from a cockeyed angle and then upside down. The shot is hazy at first, later becoming clearer. The whole sequence makes me feel a little woozy and disoriented watching it -- definitely reminiscent of how I'd feel if I really overdid it with the alcohol the night before. Especially if I woke up to find someone else staring at me from the doorway -- someone who had it together to a much greater extent than I did at that exact moment.

 

There's also the extreme close-up of Ingrid Bergman (who somehow still manages to look really elegant even completely hungover). It reminds me of other similar shots I've seen in other Hitchcock films of other female stars in scenes where their character is "out of sorts" to one degree or another -- like Janet Leigh lying on the bathroom floor as a corpse in Psycho or Carole Lombard lying in bed under the blankets in the beginning of Mr. and Mrs. Smith 

 

2. How does Hitchcock choose to light, frame, and photograph his two stars in this scene? What are some of the contrasts that Hitchcock  trying to set up between these two characters through art direction, costume, and cinematography?

 

Well, there's the way Devlin appears dark as he first stands in the doorway. Then he's hazy before showing up loud and clear for Alicia. I feel like that's about more than simply showing us how she sees him in her hungover state. I get the impression I'm supposed to see the character as a little hard to figure out, despite the fact that he also seems to be the one with all the answers and information. 

 

All this seems to be underlined by the contrast in their appearances in this scene. He doesn't have a hair out of place and his suit is pressed and tailored. She, although still very beautiful and elegant, looks a little worse for wear. She's disheveled. The cut of her clothing is looser and less tailored. She's wearing stripes while Devlin's suit is solid black. He seems a lot more pulled together than she does... just... overall, so Hitch definitely painted that picture for me very well. Based on this scene, I feel like Devlin will turn out to be more composed and controlled as a character than Alicia will. 

 

3. Based on this scene (or the entire film if you have seen it already), reflect on the casting of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Does this scene conform to or challenge their well-known star personas? 

 

It actually challenges those personas in a lot of ways. Cary Grant is most definitely a polished, dapper figure in most of his films. However, he also tends to play characters that have this playful sense of humor underneath it all, even when he's playing people that maybe aren't 100% nice or likable (i.e. Johnnie from Suspicion). Devlin seems a lot more strait-laced and serious than I expect Cary Grant's characters to be as a rule. Ingrid Bergman usually plays innocent but poised characters to the best of my understanding -- good girls with really pure hearts. It's unusual and feels odd to see her playing someone that would party to the point of being that severely hungover in the morning. 

 

Even so, Grant and Bergman have personas that are so well-established and hard to shake that you don't totally watch this and go: "Wow, they're so out of character here." Enough of those personas are left intact that you almost assume that's who these characters probably are (or at least have the potential to be) deep down. The combination makes it easier to believe in these characters, to care about them, and to picture them falling in love. It makes them feel like complex human beings without Hitchcock having to spell it out for us to an extent that might actually feel tedious.

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The lighting the focus on the close ups. Just makes the beautiful "eye candy" movie stars become magnified. They are bigger than life. The same camera angle from 39 steps The frightening Grant becomes menacing and as the angle sweeps around and turns him upside down he's more frightening. Bergmans outfit appears black and white maybe even provoking thoughts of "who is good who is evil?? " she has a bold reflective design on top and below a lovely elegant skirt.

2. The absence of music evokes a stark frank feeling. The lighting and close ups create a no nonsense scene. The room is beautiful and bed appears ripe with expensive elegant bedclothes.

3. Cary Grant was undoubtedly challenged He's not the sweet comedic character we've learned to love. This scene forces us to see a side of Grant that we are not accustomed to see. Ingrid is both sorrowful and so very sick. It's palpable. Her illness is palpable. The poison is truly ravaging her. It doesn't seem like acting. It's real.

 

I believe audiences at the time of the film's release may have been less surprised by the 'not so nice' Cary Grant then us viewers today because many people today saw all of those Grant 'being really nice' or the 'as family man'  films made after Notorious was released.     I.e. our 'vision' of Grant is shaped by those films and of course that wasn't the case for someone in 1946.

 

E.g.   Grant wasn't a sweet comedic character in Only Angels have Wings,   Suspicion or Mr. Lucky,  as well as his serious character in None but the Lonely Heart.     Of course the latter 3 films were released during the war which put an end to the screwball comedy (expect for the Sturges films).

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What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie?

 

The close ups, the POV shot that starts tilted left, following Devlin as he approaches the bed, titling right and then turning the shot upside down.

 

How does Hitchcock choose to light, frame, and photograph his two stars in this scene?What are some of the contrasts that Hitchcock trying to set up between these two characters through art direction, costume, and cinematography?

 

Cary Grant is back lit and canted left in his first shot, Ingrid Bergman is in extreme close up, with much of her face hidden by messy hair, bedding and a glass of hangover cure. Grant is well groomed, in a suit; Berman is hung over, she slept in the clothes she was wearing the night before. Hitchcock is showing how together Devlin is and what a mess Alicia is.

 

Based on this scene (or the entire film if you have seen it already), reflect on the casting of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Does this scene conform to or challenge their well-known star personas?

 

This particular scene conforms to Grant's star persona, but not to Bergman's.

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Indeed this is one of his best films.

 

The opening closeup of hungover Alicia shows us she likes to have a good time but has to pay for the consequences the next day. Devlin in shadow looks menacing to us via a Dutch angle and then disorients us as he approaches Alicia and the camera spins around. He appears even more menacing in a close up (but Cary Grant has always seemed a misogynist to me; he always likes to patronize and put women down)

 

Alicia also doesn't care about looking good, with her rat hair piece falling off and hair disheveled, but as she gets up and brushes her hair out, she starts to realize the odds she must face in a potential job.

 

Bergman and Grant indeed make a wonderful pairing, especially later in the film doing the infamous five minute long kissing scene; they too fit together perfectly with the chemistry between their characters.

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Notorious is one of my top 3 favorite Hitchcock films - grown on me over the years.

1. As Dr. Edwards mentions in the video, the POV shot of Alicia watching Devlin come into the room, turning the camera to see Devlin upside-down, is a re-use of a shot from Downhill (again where the female is observing the male lead).  (Similarly, the high-angle tracking shot to the key in Bergman's hand is a repeat of a shot in Young and Innocent, where the high-angle camera surveys a ballroom, moves over the dancers, etc and eventually zooms into the drummer's twitching eyes).  Also a Hitchcock 'touch', this scene is serving as exposition of Devlin as strictly business, dressed in a professional fashion, talking plain and unemotionally.  Whereas Alicia is dressed in her party clothes from the night before (dark and light stripes), like conveying conflict, perhaps guilty feelings, but also, as a prisoner, feeling cornered/trapped by the questioning Devlin.  Devlin's business proposal involves her personal commitment, emotionally and physically.  This establishes a conflict between these characters which will recur through the film, a layer to their relationship.  Eventually though, with the revelation of her recorded conversation, her true attitude is provided to the audience.

2. Hitchcock chooses to shoot the two characters separately, never together, through most of this clip, as they are on opposing sides - as she thinks he is a cop trying to get her to inform.  Physically, she sees him in canted angles, and a hangover fog, or she keeps her back to him, indicative that she has a distorted (and perhaps incorrect) perception of him.  Devlin on the other hand offers advice (drink the beverage), and moves towards her in pursuit and attempting to engage - to win her over for the job.

It is not until the record is played, where Alicia is heard defying her father, and showing loyalty to the United States, that she steps into the doorway next to Devlin, and indication that they are on the same side, and not really in opposition.

3. as to the persona of the two stars, as discussed in this section, Bergman's character reflects the vulnerability, and eventually, goodness of her established image.  Grant at this point is more restrained, or limited to showing his professional self.  Very business-like, without direct influence (or revelation) of his personal feelings.  Eventually though, the familiar romantic image of Grant comes out, but this role does lack the humor and playfulness frequently seen in his prior performances.  

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The Hitchcock touches I see in this early scene are his signature close-ups and camera angles -- every which way -- great Hitchcock stuff -- like close-up on the juice glass, on Ingrid Bergman's face as she's zonked under covers across the bed, on Cary Grant from every angle and as he approaches her.  But I think the Hitchcock touch too that comes across in this scene is his male domineering tone and character towards their women, like in Rebecca's Laurence Olivier's character pre-matrimony.  

I think Hitchcock chose to light, frame and photograph his two stars in this scene by the very close-ups and the slow timing, pacing of the scene, in the black and white of it all.

I've always loved Cary Grant in his films but I also sometimes thought he could come across as too strong a persona in some of his films; like here against Bergman, I think he comes across as somewhat stuffy or pompous, but I do think the casting of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman based on this scene (I have not seen the entire film) is spot on, that it does conform to or challenge their well-known star personas, even if they both are such strong star personas in their own right.  So I therefore wonder if it may not be like a nonstop pour of Karo syrup on your pancake.  But again, I have not seen the entire film so this is my reflect from just this short scene and my experience with the Cary Grant films.  

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What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie?
 
I love the "touch" right from the start where we are seeing so much detail to the set design. We see Alicia laying in bed, room is a disaster, it's obvious she's had a long night of drinking. We get the close up on her beautiful face. Then we get a brilliant upside down camera angle and movement, as we saw in an earlier shot sequence in Downhill (as the professor pointed out in today's lecture).

notoriousdownhill.jpg
 
How does Hitchcock choose to light, frame, and photograph his two stars in this scene?What are some of the contrasts that Hitchcock  trying to set up between these two characters through art direction, costume, and cinematography?
 
I think as always Hitchcock does a good job using shadows and light. He will leave a more unsavory person in the shadows, like a corner or somewhere low light. He shows Devlin as a towering sort of creature, darker setting, we see him from a low camera shot. Alicia is in bed, she's vulnerable and the lighting almost paints her as an angel. An evil vs good dynamic. 
 
Based on this scene (or the entire film if you have seen it already), reflect on the casting of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Does this scene conform to or challenge their well-known star personas? 
 
From what I've read, Grant is known as a ladies man, smooth, very kind and likable Star in Hollywood. His character as Devlin seems to be in opposition to that, although he did play a bit more of a creepy character in Suspicion. Bergman was known as being elegant, and was very popular in Hollywood at the time so I think this was a challenge for her too. Playing a bit more of a drunk, a "party girl". That being said I feel they have amazing chemistry and these roles are a good challenge for any actor to take on as even a stretch role.
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1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie?
 
The point-of-view shot is definitely part of the Hitchcock touch. You see Devlin through the eyes of the hungover Alicia and it helps put you in her shoes. The camera twirls around. You see Devlin at first from a cockeyed angle and then upside down. The shot is hazy at first, later becoming clearer. The whole sequence makes me feel a little woozy and disoriented watching it -- definitely reminiscent of how I'd feel if I really overdid it with the alcohol the night before. Especially if I woke up to find someone else staring at me from the doorway -- someone who had it together to a much greater extent than I did at that exact moment.
 
There's also the extreme close-up of Ingrid Bergman (who somehow still manages to look really elegant even completely hungover). It reminds me of other similar shots I've seen in other Hitchcock films of other female stars in scenes where their character is "out of sorts" to one degree or another -- like Janet Leigh lying on the bathroom floor as a corpse in Psycho or Carole Lombard lying in bed under the blankets in the beginning of Mr. and Mrs. Smith 
 
2. How does Hitchcock choose to light, frame, and photograph his two stars in this scene? What are some of the contrasts that Hitchcock  trying to set up between these two characters through art direction, costume, and cinematography?
 
Well, there's the way Devlin appears dark as he first stands in the doorway. Then he's hazy before showing up loud and clear for Alicia. I feel like that's about more than simply showing us how she sees him in her hungover state. I get the impression I'm supposed to see the character as a little hard to figure out, despite the fact that he also seems to be the one with all the answers and information. 
 
All this seems to be underlined by the contrast in their appearances in this scene. He doesn't have a hair out of place and his suit is pressed and tailored. She, although still very beautiful and elegant, looks a little worse for wear. She's disheveled. The cut of her clothing is looser and less tailored. She's wearing stripes while Devlin's suit is solid black. He seems a lot more pulled together than she does... just... overall, so Hitch definitely painted that picture for me very well. Based on this scene, I feel like Devlin will turn out to be more composed and controlled as a character than Alicia will. 
 
3. Based on this scene (or the entire film if you have seen it already), reflect on the casting of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Does this scene conform to or challenge their well-known star personas? 
 
It actually challenges those personas in a lot of ways. Cary Grant is most definitely a polished, dapper figure in most of his films. However, he also tends to play characters that have this playful sense of humor underneath it all, even when he's playing people that maybe aren't 100% nice or likable (i.e. Johnnie from Suspicion). Devlin seems a lot more strait-laced and serious than I expect Cary Grant's characters to be as a rule. Ingrid Bergman usually plays innocent but poised characters to the best of my understanding -- good girls with really pure hearts. It's unusual and feels odd to see her playing someone that would party to the point of being that severely hungover in the morning. 
 
Even so, Grant and Bergman have personas that are so well-established and hard to shake that you don't totally watch this and go: "Wow, they're so out of character here." Enough of those personas are left intact that you almost assume that's who these characters probably are (or at least have the potential to be) deep down. The combination makes it easier to believe in these characters, to care about them, and to picture them falling in love. It makes them feel like complex human beings without Hitchcock having to spell it out for us to an extent that might actually feel tedious.

 

Good observation here: "scenes where their character is "out of sorts" to one degree or another -- like Janet Leigh lying on the bathroom floor as a corpse in Psycho or Carole Lombard lying in bed under the blankets in the beginning of Mr. and Mrs. Smith."

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DAILY DOSE #12 (Notorious)

 

JAMAICA ME INN TO A SPY

1. Disorienting rotating to upside down POV shot mirrors Alicia's state of mind.

2. Hitchcock abandons POV for flattering closeups for a third-person audience view. 

3. Grant here, and typically, is smooth yet inscrutable while Bergman, as usual, is inquisitive and fetching.

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Hitchcock's use of close-ups and also the extreme close-up are very quickly used in these opening scenes. From the beginning it is also seen that Devlin has the upper hand on Alicia w/the shot of her laid out on the bed and him standing fully upright. That is continued when he wants her for a job and then uses the record to reel her in. 

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I think that the Hitchcock touches in this scene of Notorious are noticeable through the editing of their conversations and the shots. I think the tense conversation between Bergman and Grant is arranged as  if it were a game, shots of close ups of each other construct the scene. 

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I agree with the opinion that this is one of the best films of Hitchcock.  Here we see, again camera moves up to a close-up on the face of Ingrid Bergman behind the glass (in Mr & Mrs Smith, was the eye of Lombard).  Also, as shown in the lecture video, the camera movement that revolves to show what are the eyes of the woman., as in Downhill. Cary Grant appears in shadows, a very special camera angle, as showing a kind of threat for the woman in the bed. This way of showing it to Grant, and the first plane of the glass remind me of Suspicion).


Thus, the beginning of the relationship between the two protagonists does not seem the best, which will serve to better assess their subsequent romance. As regards the third point, Grant made Grant, his attitude, his position is the usual in his films. On the other hand, this scene shows Bergman in a different way to what by then was publicly for it. With much more character, more real, more human, as we will see - in reality and on the screen after his encounter with Rossellini.


I finally also highlight the extraordinary role of Claude Rains, without it, the movie would have been different (and, at the risk of being heretical, I think that the same applies to Casablanca)

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This opening scene uses both Grant and Bergman's reputations.  Grant looks suave and Bergman, even in bed with a hang over looks beautiful, and when playing the recording of Alicia and her father, as they stand in the doorway, they look like a perfect couple.  These are the stars that the Fan Magazines talk about.  Who always look perfect, who are the beautiful people that we expect to see.  As the movie goes on, we will see them differently, with a different eye, but here we see them as an audience in the 1940's came to them to see. They are Hollywood.

 

This is what Hitchcock wants us seeing, then he will bring on the suspense.  These are longer, fuller shots,than we will see later.

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  1. What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie? I noticed his use of the close-up and medium shots to frame his characters, as well as objects in the foreground. Another touch is his experimentation with camera angles that is using a shot that he used previously in the film Downhill (1927). His POV shots are another of his signature touches. The conversations between his characters of trust versus betrayal are another part of his signature. 

     

  2. How did Hitchcock chose to light, frame, and photograph his two stars in this scene? What are some of the contrasts that Hitchcock is trying to set up between these two characters through art direction, costume, and cinematography? For the lighting of Bergman's character, Hitch decided to give her a harsh light to represent her hangover after her inebriation the other night, and as for Grant, he chose to use soft diffused lighting to go against the character archetype. The way he photographs his two stars are delicate in their pristine detail. The art direction in the film is brilliant in its decoupage setting of the bedroom. Bergman's costume features a zigzag pattern that illustrate that she is in both directions and is colorblind at the least, whereas Devlin wears a debonair tuxedo that shows he means serious business and is willing to take her along for the ride. The cinematography shows some light, then it is contrasted with darkness to show unease and pain all throughout the sequence. 

 

Based on this scene (or the entire film if you have seen it already), reflect on the casting of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Does this scene conform to or challenge their well-known personas? This scene showcases that Grant and Bergman are challenging themselves in playing the role of the party girl and the secret agent who is offering to give Bergman a chance to work as a spy against the nazis hiding in South America after the war. I think that this scene challenges their well-known personas in more than one way based on their characters rather than their actions.

 

Edited by BLACHEFAN
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1. The use of Ingrid Bergman's POV while lying in bed is definitely a Hitchcock touch. 

 

2. Hitchcock uses the scenery by putting his actors in two separate rooms when they are in conflict. We saw this also used in Downhill and The Ring. While Cary Grant is boldly wearing an all black suit, Ingrid Bergman is wearing a black and white striped blouse, perhaps visually showing she is divided or conflicted about something.

 

3. Regarding casting, while I have certainly heard of these two actors, I have not seen any of their movies and am not familiar with what their personas are or were at the time. But I definitely notice a change in the cinematography in the 40s films. Long, lingering close-ups of the actors, and better sound quality. Production value is definitely going up!

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1.  Hitchcock 'touches' in early scene from Notorious

 

What jumps out especially is the P.O.V. shot of Ingrid Bergman lying in bed, hungover, and seeing Cary Grant (in shadow), standing in the doorway, and the angle of the camera as he enters the room, the rolling image of him walking towards her makes me feel the pain of her hangover!  How Hitchcock frames each scene always seems to stand out - the way he uses light and shadow; as I mentioned, Cary Grant standing in the doorway in shadow - the only light coming from the room behind him.  In the first scene, how Cary Grant is not shown or heard from - again in shadow.

 

2.  How does Hitchcock choose to light, frame, and photograph his two stars in this scene?  What ae some of the contrasts. . . .to set up the two characters. . .

 

As mentioned in my response to question #1, Cary Grant appears twice in shadow - saying nothing, which forms a sort of mystique about him.  Whereas Ingrid Bergman is sort of 'all over the place' with showing emotions - anger, vulnerability, mistrustful - maybe a little scared as well.  Cary Grant keeps his emotions under wraps, which becomes sort of aggravating as the movie progresses; both Grant and Bergman constantly misreading each other.  I felt that their costumes worked well against the backdrops of the scenes - light against dark.  Each scene seemed to stand out more. 

 

3.  Reflect on the casting of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.  Does this scene conform to or challenge their well-known star personas?

 

I think the casting was perfect throughout this movie.  Grant and Bergman especially - their chemistry was believable to me.  I've always loved Claude Rains.  Although he stood only about 5' 7", when he appeared in a scene - he owned it.  While watching him in a scene, you never noticed his height.!    Leopoldine Konstantin as Alexander's mother was downright scary and utterly perfect in the movie.  When she walked downstairs and into the entry hall to first meet Alicia - all pale and severe in her appearance, you could almost feel the iciness emanating from her.  I loved the scene in the movie where Alexander reveals to his mother Alicia's betrayal and out comes the cigarette and she's transformed from a cold yet proper woman into a hardened, street-wise woman whose evilness has just surfaced.  Great casting throughout!

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Daily Dose #12

 

"Ask me how do I feel, little me with my quiet upbringing. Well sir,.....

 

1.     What Hitchcock "touches" do you see in this early scene from the movie?

 

A few of the touches I saw included:

 

A man halfway in silhouette,

There is a close-up of a record playing.

The close-ups of the main characters.

The moving POV shots (the wonderful topsy-turvy shot from Bergman's POV and then the POV Dolly shot  towards the end when Devlin is walking towards Alicia, which then turns the composition from a single three-quarter shot of Alicia to a two-shot of Devlin and Alicia from the waist up. - a subtle move that I just love.)

 

2.     How does Hitchcock choose to light, frame, and photograph his two stars in this scene?What are some of the contrasts that Hitchcock trying to set up between these two characters through art direction, costume, and cinematography?

 

The art direction, costumes, and cinematography come together to deliver us the characters in symbology.  The room in which Alicia wakes is in shadow.  The light from the window across the wall serves to give the illusion of bars, coupled with her striped (albeit sparkly) top serves to present Alicia as a prisoner.   Devlin comes from a room filled with light, and is first pictured in shadowy silhouette.  He commands her to drink from the glass placed beside the bed (the top of which is lit, a subtle nod to Suspicion, perhaps?).  Devlin is the warden, the person in charge.  Whereas Alicia's clothes are disheveled, Devlin is impeccably dressed in a three-button suit.  Devlin returns to the light and via the recorded conversation, draws out Alicia from the darkness into the light to stand by him.

 

3.     Based on this scene (or the entire film if you have seen it already), reflect on the casting of Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. Does this scene conform to or challenge their well-known star personas? 

 

Cary Grant was already known as a suave actor and had worked with Hitchcock already in Suspicion.  But he was mainly known for light comedic roles, with very few really dramatic parts to his resume.  Berman was most famous for her role in Casablanca, and was seen as a dramatic actress.  So whereas Grant got to stretch his dramatic muscles, Berman more or less got to refine hers.  

So Bergman conformed, Grant got to challenge.

And we the audience got to appreciate both.

 

- Walt3rd

 

P.S.  I loved the first view of Grant in the scene.  But it reminded me of something else I had seen that was done years later.....

 

 

 

 

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Hitchcock truly pulls out all of the stops with Notorious. The imaginative, daring camera angles that depict Alicia's drugged fogginess as she fixes her eyes on the elegant image of Devlin/Cary Grant (this was truly a masterstroke, reminiscent of the shot of Ivor Novello in Downhill); the intimate ECUs of Devlin and Alicia that essentially block out anything else in the shot; the breathtaking overhead shot that slowly, steadily moves in to focus on the key clenched in Alicia's hand; the wonderful costumes by Edith Head, one of my favorite designers (and Hitchcock's apparently), who clothed these characters in such a way that they helped tell the story and advance the plot(with Edith Head it was never clothes for clothes' sake!) - these are Hitchcock's trademarks that make this picture unlike any other.

 

The success and appeal of Notorious is due to essentially casting Grant and Bergman against type - he's the sharp, assured, tough-talking lawman, whose physical image is still the smooth, suave and sophisticated Cary Grant we're accustomed to seeing in movies. He's got an edge, though, and with Grant's talent and Hitchcock's direction, he's believable. Bergman is a party girl/spy who, sickened by the poison she's slowly being fed, still manages to look lovely, but as spectators, we empathize with her plight and want to her to get out of this situation alive.  Again, she's completely convincing in this role, but she's definitely not the Ingrid Bergman we usually see (think Casablanca).

Their glamour is the attraction and Hitchcock knew how to use it -- but neither Bergman nor Grant had to relinquish any of their appeal to turn in powerful performances. 

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1. The Hitchcock touches I see are the POV shots, the closeup of the stars and the lighting used in the scene. The angle of Devlin entering the room as Alicia turns her head and sees him upside down reminds me of the scene from Downhill. The closeup of the drink and the stars make you focus on their interactions without alot of distraction in the background. Your eyes are on them. The way Devlin sets Alicia up by using the record of her conversation is very crafty. Record players have been used in several of the opening shots we have viewed. 

 

2.Cary Grant first looks a little hazy, as seen through Alicia's eyes because she is reeling from her night of overindulgence. His lighting is softer even a little shadowy. Ingrid Bergman's lighting is more harsh, like when the lights come up in a cinema after viewing a film. She feels the glare, her hair is mussed and her clothes are wrinkled from being slept in. Cary Grant look suave and neatly dressed. His head is not befuddled at all. He seems to have the upper hand in the situation. 

 

3. Both were huge stars. The both were very classy people. Ingrid Bergman was very elegant and poised. She had a face that could invoke a wide range of emotions and this film has lots of close ups which capitalizes on her many expressions. Cary Grant was always debonair and sophisticated in his films. He always looked good on camera despite what his character may being going through. Together these two stars make excellent eye candy but have the skills of seasoned actors to add substance to their roles.

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  Mr. Hitchcock's uses a door frame to isolate and focus on the Grant character's silhouette upon meeting the Bergman character, Alicia. He appears out of shadows like some cardboard cut-out, handsomely dressed in a sharp dark suit that fits him well. He is an imposing character one who will not go away easily to the ill Alicia's desire that he do so. Whether filmed upside down or right side up, this character of Devlin is persistent and appealing towards Alicia. She is disoriented, he is not. He is filmed sharply and angularly, she is filmed softly and almost out of focus. He is defined, she is not. He is focused, she is not. She is dressed in a hideous, sparkling blouse that seems out of place in a bedroom or near the dapper-dressed Devlin. Devlin and Alicia clearly are not in sync and the costume design reflects this idea of unequalness.

  What does gets her up from the awkward prone position in the bed is Devlin's call to duty as mentioned in the lecture video by our two instructors. Devlin prods her into action, to assemble and pull herself together, enjoin for the sake of the greater good which he knows she can claim a part of her, all cynicism and drunkenness aside. He speaks to her gently and firmly not harshly.  He speaks to that unclaimed part, the noble part they both have in common. She does not know she owns this quality until the recording is played and she finally joins the seductive Devlin in that door frame to acknowledge this insight. They are now in sync, equal,  and Mr. Hitchcock has framed them as a beautiful and defined couple to illustrate this key change of heart.

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As mentioned in the lecture video, we are graced by the ever effective POV shot from Hitchcock. This camera work is a signature of the classic Hitchcock directorial style. He places the audience in Alicia's positioned state in the wearings off of inebriation. What's both technically interesting and intelligently crafted is the timed length of the shot and movement of the camera. Hitchcock doesn't just cut to a quick POV, utilizing a to and from type of exchange amongst Alicia and Devlin. He allows the camera to linger as Alicia and then moves it in the direction in which she moves her head. The result of this clever approach is an unbalanced, near room spinning, semi drunken effect via character point of view.

 

Within this scene, Hitchcock exhibits Devlin nearly obscured in shadow, conveying a sense of suspicion, possibly even blatant danger as he walks toward, eventually looming over, a recovering hungover Alicia. After establishing Devlin as a non immediate threat, Hitchcock frames both Alicia and Devlin in many medium close up shots, which are suggestive of a potential burgeoning interpersonal relationship. In terms of character contrasts, Hitchcock implements a difference of appearance and natural composure. Alicia is rather disheveled, a near total mess from the night before; tangled hair, slurred speech, still wearing the party dress as she lies in bed nursing her hangover. Devlin is Alicia's stark opposite. Dressed in a suit, he is composed, professional. Devlin has been delegated a task via his boss (to recruit Alicia as a spy), which seems to be a rather unlikely coupling for a team of spies.

 

I am in total adoration of Cary Grant. He is undeniably one of the finest performers to ever work within the artistic medium of acting. Grant is a versatile talent, embodying a varying range in his acting skills. Ingrid Bergman is Grant’s counterpart, his absolute equal in both talent and profession. I'm not well versed in Bergman's life or career, however, when on screen, she is a scene stealer, a captivating performer who wins an audience via skill and charm. Therefore, the casting of Bergman and Grant in Notorious is the summation of perfect casting for a film.

 

Notorious, I believe, is a non-conventional role for Grant, and likely Bergman too. Grant is often times the charming male lead, the handsome hero. His character in Notorious seems a bit grittier, a not so innocent (on the surface) type of leading man. Here, the same applies to Bergman as well. I get the impression Bergman could likely have been relegated to certain types of leading female roles. Notorious removes her from that box, as Alicia is not your seemingly standard female character. She's definitely flawed, three dimensional, a full character not awaiting Devlin's return from a job. She accompanies him, embarking on the the difficult and dangerous journey of being a spy.

 

Perhaps it was the Studio System during The Golden Age (contracts, managers, agents, etc) or perhaps it was the keeping of an image, but while Grant and Bergman are undoubtedly two of the greatest screen actors, one can usually seem to connect them to a certain kind of character. However, in Notorious, the two broke the mold revealing their range, skill set, cementing their legacy in Hollywood as two of the greatest actors to ever grace the silver screen.

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