Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious is the most elegant expression of the master’s visual style, just as Vertigo is the fullest expression of his obsessions. It contains some of the most effective camera shots in his – or anyone’s – work, and they all lead to the great final passages in which two men find out how very wrong they both were.
This is the film, with Casablanca, that assures Ingrid Bergman’s immortality. She plays a woman whose notorious reputation encourages U.S. agents to recruit her to spy on Nazis in postwar Rio. And that reputation nearly gets her killed, when the man she loves mistrusts her. His misunderstanding is at the center of a plot in which all of the pieces come together with perfect precision, so that two people walk down a staircase to their freedom, and a third person climbs steps to his doom.