Friday, 11 March 2016
I'm not entirely sure why German spies should still be up to no good by April 1946 when the film takes place, but this is a justly celebrated classic with magnificent dialogue, splendid performances from Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant- whose chemistry is electric- genuine suspense, and some absolutely astounding directing, specially towards the end when the camera shows us just how disoriented Alicia is.
Behind all this, though, is a pleasingly progressive message: the superbly hard-drinking Alicia is brave and patriotic for infiltrating these dangerous Nazis as she does, making the sacrifice of even having regular sex with Sebastian, their leader, yet the men (all of them are men) who are "running" her simply dismiss her as a whore, with only Devlin to defend her honour. Such are the double standards applied so depressingly often to women even today, but Hitchcock is to be applauded for addressing this in 1946.
The plot is like clockwork, the final few minutes electric, and the conclusion deeply satisfying. This is a truly fine film.