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seriously, I'm way better lookin' than Bogart, right?

seriously, I'm way better lookin' than Bogart, right?

I’d give it a PG

Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman

Alicia: This is a very strange love affair…
Devlin: Why?
Alicia: Maybe the fact that you don’t love me…

Alicia (Bergman), the daughter of a Nazi sympathizer, is recruited by T.R. Devlin (Grant) to spy on some other Nazi sympathizers in South America.  Before Alicia and Devlin are given the full details of her assignment, they fall for each other and begin a romance.  When it’s revealed that the plan is to have Alicia seduce one of the Nazis and infiltrate their group, this throws a pretty big monkey wrench into their little love affair.

I don’t think any other filmmaker has ever been as good, or creative, as Alfred Hitchcock at building tension in a movie.  It’s a fun kind of tension too.  Like in this movie, when Devlin and Alicia are planning to sneak down into a locked wine cellar, during a big party, using a key stolen from Alicia’s new Nazi sympathizer husband, Alex Sebastian.  Devlin realizes that if they run out of wine upstairs, Sebastian will head down to the cellar for more, discover his key is missing, thus blowing the whole operation and endangering their lives.  So, as we see more and more wine being poured, we know their time window for sneaking into the cellar is running out.  It’s a really well done sequence, and is typical of the way Hitchcock can use something simple like that to build suspense and tension.

I thought this movie started off a little bit slow, but as soon as their romantic complications began, it became a lot more engrossing.  I love how quietly torn Devlin is over sacrificing their romance for the greater good of their duty to their country.  Grant plays it perfectly, pushing Alicia away while simultaneously showing how frustrated he is seeing her with Alex Sebastian.  They take hurtful jabs at each other because they know that showing their true feelings would make her mission much too difficult to complete.

There’s some great camera work in this film as well.  Watch for the scene that begins up high above the party in the big ballroom, then pans around a bit before slowly descending down further and further until we’ve zoomed all the way in on Alicia’s hand, holding that stolen key that plays such a big part in the story.  It’s a great shot both technically and in a storytelling sense.

This really is a well done movie.  Good romance, good suspense, some comedy sprinkled in here and there, and some interesting themes about redemption.  It won’t take Rear Window’s spot as my favorite Hitchcock movie, but it’s certainly high up on that list.

10 – 1 for the slow beginning – .3 for the sort of sudden ending + .2 for solid performances = 8.9