AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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Director: Alfred Hitchcock (Dir)
Release Date:   6 Sep 1946
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 15 Aug 1946; Los Angeles opening: 22 Aug 1946
Production Date:   10 Oct 1945--17 Jan 1946; retakes and addl scenes 18 Jan--25 Jan 1946, 4 Apr--5 Apr 1946
Duration (in mins):   101 or 103
Duration (in feet):   9,130
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Cast:   Cary Grant ([T. R.] Devlin)  
    Ingrid Bergman (Alicia Huberman)  
    Claude Rains (Alexander Sebastian)  
    Louis Calhern (Paul Prescott)  
    Madame Konstantin (Mme. [Anna] Sebastian)  
    Reinhold Schunzel (Dr. Anderson [previously known as Otto Rensler])  
    Moroni Olsen (Walter Beardsley)  
    Ivan Triesault (Eric Mathis)  
    Alex Minotis (Joseph)  
    Wally Brown (Mr. Hopkins)  
    Sir Charles Mendl (Commodore)  
    Ricardo Costa (Dr. [Julio] Barbosa)  
    Eberhard Krumschmidt ([Emil] Hupka)  
    Fay Baker (Ethel)  
    Alfred Hitchcock (Party guest by champagne table)  
    Gavin Gordon (Ernest Weylin)  
    Antonio Moreno (Senor Ortiza)  
    Frederick Ledebur (Knerr)  
    William Gordon (Adams)  
    Charles D. Brown (Judge)  
    Peter Von Zerneck (Rossner)  
    Fred Nurney (John Huberman)  
    Herbert Wyndham (Mr. Cook)  
    Aileen Carlyle (Woman at party)  
    Harry Hayden (Defense council)  
    Dink Trout (Court clerk)  
    John Vosper (Reporter)  
    Eddie Bruce (Reporter)  
    Don Kerr (Reporter)  
    Ben Erway (Reporter)  
    Emmett Vogan (Reporter)  
    Paul Bryar (Reporter)  
    Alan Ward (Reporter)  
    James Logan (Reporter)  
    Howard Negley (Photographer)  
    Frank Marlowe (Photographer)  
    George Lynn (Photgrapher)  
    Warren Jackson (District Attorney)  
    Howard Mitchell (Bailiff)  
    Tom Coleman (Court stenographer)  
    Garry Owen (Motorcycle officer)  
    Lester Dorr (Motorcycle officer)  
    Patricia Smart (Mrs. Jackson)  
    Candido Bonsato (Waiter)  
    Ted Kelly (Waiter)  
    Tina Menard (Maid)  
    Alfredo De Sa (Ribero)  
    Frank Wilcox (F.B.I. man)  
    Bea Benaderet (File clerk)  
    Virginia Gregg (File clerk)  
    Bernice Barrett (File clerk)  
    Sandra Morgan    
    Lillian West    
    Beulah Christian    
    Alameda Fowler    
    Richard Clarke    
    Francis McDonald    
    Leota Lorraine    
    Luis Serrano    
    Ramon Nomar    

Summary: After her Nazi father is convicted of treason by a Miami, Florida jury, German-born Alicia Huberman tries to forget her pain by throwing a loud party and flirting with uninvited guest T. R. Devlin. Late that evening, an intoxicated Alicia takes Devlin on a drive and is stopped for speeding by a motorcycle officer. When Devlin flashes his official credentials, however, the officer allows Alicia to go without a ticket. Alicia, who has been hounded by reporters and police, is infuriated at Devlin and denounces him as a double-crossing "cop." Although Devlin disapproves of Alicia's self-destructive, promiscuous life style, he is confident of her patriotic feelings toward America, having heard secretly recorded comments she has made, and offers her a job infiltrating a Nazi industrial combine in Brazil. The embittered Alicia at first rejects Devlin's offer, but eventually agrees to accompany him to Rio de Janeiro. While waiting for her assignment, Alicia enjoys a romantic, carefree week in Rio and proudly tells Devlin she is a changed woman. Devlin is skeptical about her reformation, but nonetheless finds himself falling in love with her. The couple's newfound bliss is shortlived, however, as Devlin's boss, Paul Prescott, informs him that Alicia's assignment is to woo her former suitor, German-born Alexander Sebastian, and determine what his war machine combine is manufacturing. Although Alicia is conflicted, Devlin refuses to tell her what to do, and believing that he doesn't truly love her, she accepts the assignment. Devlin, in turn, views Alicia's acceptance as proof of her fickleness. As pre-arranged, Alicia encounters Alex while riding in a park and encourages him to pursue her. At a dinner party at Alex's home, Alicia notices one of the guests, Emil Hupka, gesture nervously at a wine bottle sitting on a mantle. Later, Alex and his other male guests discuss Hupka's improper dinner behavior and agree that he must be eliminated, a job the sinister Eric Mathis eagerly assumes. Soon after, Alicia reports to Devlin, who is posing as a public relations representative, at a Rio racetrack and tells him with sarcasm that the lovestruck Alex is her new "playmate." Devlin reacts to the remark with disgust, but easily plays the part of Alicia's rejected lover in front of Alex. When a jealous Alex then questions Alicia about Devlin, she reassures him that the handsome American "means nothing" to her. A short time later, Alicia pays an unexpected call on Prescott and Devlin and informs them that Alex has proposed to her. Although stunned by the news, Devlin once again refuses to interfere, and a heartbroken Alicia agrees to the marriage. After a brief honeymoon, the newlyweds return to Alex's house, where his domineering mother Anna views her new daughter-in-law with jealous disdain. Alicia immediately inspects the layout of the house and learns from butler Joseph that only Alex has the key to the house's large wine cellar. Some days later, Devlin instructs Alicia to throw a party and secure the key long enough for him to investigate the wine cellar. Before the party, Alicia sneaks the wine cellar key off Alex's key ring and later passes it to Devlin. Alicia then slips away from Alex's watchful eye and accompanies Devlin to the cellar, where they discover that one of the bottles contains not wine, but a mineral substance. When Devlin accidentally drops the bottle, Alicia quickly drains a similar bottle and helps him pour the spilled contents into it. As they are leaving the cellar, Alex approaches with Joseph, and Devlin kisses Alicia to distract him. Although Alex falls for the ruse at first, he soon notices that his cellar key is missing. Early the next morning, after he finds the key back on his ring and discovers that the bottle has been tampered with, he deduces Alicia's true mission and informs his mother. The quick thinking Anna declares that to keep Alex's slip from their ruthless group, they must slowly poison Alicia. Over the next few weeks, Alicia grows sicker from Anna's poison, which is placed in Alicia's coffee. At their next meeting, Prescott informs Alicia that the mineral substance is uranium and asks her to find out where the group is mining it. He also tells Alicia that Devlin has requested a transfer, a fact Devlin denies when he next meets with her. Instead, Devlin questions Alicia about her obvious illness and believes her when she claims she has a hangover. Later, however, when she fails to show up for their next meeting, Devlin realizes that Alicia was really ill. Alicia, in turn, deduces what Alex and Anna are doing to her, as well as the location of the mine, but is now too weak to escape. With Prescott's backing, Devlin goes to Alex's house to rescue Alicia, confident that the Nazi will not try to stop him in front of the group. Although sedated, Alicia is overjoyed to see Devlin, and they confess their love for each other. As Devlin carries Alicia to his car, a helpless Alex announces to his suspicious comrades that he is taking Alicia to the hospital. When Devlin calmly refuses to allow Alex in the car, however, the Nazi's blunder is revealed, and his fate, sealed. 

Production Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Production Text: By Arrangement with David O. Selznick
Distribution Company: RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Alfred Hitchcock (Dir)
  William Dorfman (Asst dir)
  Ruth Roberts (Dial dir)
Producer: Alfred Hitchcock By arrangement with David O. Selznick (Prod)
Writer: Ben Hecht (Wrt)
Photography: Ted Tetzlaff (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino (Art dir)
  Carroll Clark (Art dir)
Film Editor: Theron Warth (Ed)
Set Decoration: Darrell Silvera (Set dec)
  Claude Carpenter (Set dec)
Costumes: Edith Head (Miss Ingrid Bergman's gowns by)
Music: C. Bakaleinikoff (Mus dir)
  Roy Webb (Mus)
  Gil Grau (Orch arr)
Sound: John E. Tribby (Sd)
  Terry Kellum (Sd)
Special Effects: Vernon L. Walker (Spec eff)
  Paul Eagler (Spec eff)
Production Misc: Barbara Keon (Prod asst)
  Bill Porter (Pub wrt)
Stand In: Betty Brooks (Stand-in for Ingrid Bergman)
  Dan Cassell (Stand-in for Cary Grant)
  Leo Snell (Stand-in)
  J. Dodds (Stand-in)
  D. Barton (Stand-in)
  Sam Lufkin (Stand-in)
Country: United States

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. 15/8/1946 dd/mm/yyyy LP557

PCA NO: 11261
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: RCA Sound System

Genre: Romance
Sub-Genre: Espionage
Subjects (Major): Government agents
  Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Subjects (Minor): Butlers
  Fathers and daughters
  Miami (FL)
  Mothers and sons
  Surveillance devices
  Wine cellars

Note: Although an Oct 1944 HR news item listed Lois Anderson as the film's story writer, no other source credits her. The inspiration for the picture came from a 1921 Saturday Evening Post short story by John Taintor Foote entitled "The Song of the Dragon." In Foote's story, as in Notorious , a woman sacrifices herself sexually in order to gather information from her enemies, and undergoes a transformation as a result of her efforts. Modern sources provide the following information about the film's inception: Ben Hecht, who had worked with director Alfred Hitchcock and Selznick on the very successful 1944 film Spellbound (see entry below), was signed to write the screenplay in late 1944 at a salary of $5,000 per week, with a fifteen-week guarantee. Working together in New York, Hecht and Hitchcock produced a fifty-page treatment in three weeks and then returned to Los Angeles to write additional treatments.
       In Apr 1945, months before the atomic bomb was tested for the first time in New Mexico, the uranium plot element was added to the story. In a modern interview, Hitchcock recalled that a writer friend had told him about a secret scientific project "some place in New Mexico," and that he, himself, was aware that the Germans were conducting heavy water tests in Norway. According to the modern interview, Hecht and Hitchcock consulted Dr. Robert Millikan, a Nobel Prize winner credited with the discovery of cosmic rays, on how to make an atomic bomb. Millikan reportedly refused to answer the question directly, but confirmed the writers' contention that the crucial bomb ingredient (uranium) could fit into a wine bottle. As a result of the uranium device, Hitchcock was put under surveillance by the FBI for several weeks.
       Before the script was completed, modern sources continue, Selznick, who was struggling to finish Duel in the Sun (see above entry), approached independent producer Hal B. Wallis to take over the production. Wallis, who questioned the credibility of the uranium device, soon abandoned the project, however, and in mid-Jul 1945, RKO entered into a deal with Selznick. According to the terms of the contract, RKO bought Selznick's "package"--Hecht, Hitchcock, Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman--for $800,000 and fifty percent of the net profits. Although Hitchcock received no money from the sale, he was designated as the film's producer and was given free creative reign at the studio. Notorious was the first American film on which Hitchcock worked as both producer and director.
       RKO script files contained in the UCLA Arts Library--Special Collections add the following information about the production: Although not credited on screen, Hitchcock co-wrote the screenplay with Hecht. In addition to Hecht and Hitchcock, Clifford Odets, who is listed on one draft as A. B. Clifford, worked on the script, although the extent of his contribution to the completed film has not been determined. [Modern sources claim that Odets was hired to write dialogue for the love scenes.] An early draft of the screenplay included two "happy" endings. In both, "Alicia" and "Devlin" are seen either already married or getting married. In early drafts of the treatment, according to modern sources, Devlin, who was called "Wallie Fancher," dies while fighting with "Sebastian."
       MPAA/PCA files contained at the AMPAS Library add the following information about the production: Responding to an early draft of the screenplay, PCA director Joseph I. Breen stated in a 25 May 1945 letter to Selznick that Notorious was "definitely" unacceptable as far as the Code was concerned, because the heroine is a "grossly immoral woman, whose immorality is accepted in stride." Breen suggested changing Alicia from a prostitute to a gold digger whose "total loss of faith in her father" leads her to "get what she can out of life." Although Alicia's sexual habits were toned down in later drafts, Breen continued to object to her character and was especially distressed by an early scene in which an illicit relationship between Alicia and "Ernest" was implied. That scene was eventually altered to appease Breen.
       In the 25 May 1945 letter, Breen also advised Selznick to take "counsel" with the FBI, noting that the "industry has had a kind of 'gentleman's agreement' with Mr. J. Edgar Hoover, wherein we have practically obligated ourselves to submit to him, for his consideration and approval, stories which importantly involve the activities" of the FBI. [Modern sources note that Hoover did, in fact, object to the story, both in terms of its sexual content, and its depiction of agent Devlin.] Breen also recommended that Selznick consult with the Brazilian government concerning the film's depiction of that country. In order to obtain the necessary U.S. government clearances, modern sources state, Selznick arranged for Hitchcock and a company representative to meet with Assistant Secretary of State Archibald MacLeish in Washington, D.C.
       According to modern sources, Selznick, hoping to capitalize on the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 Aug and 9 Aug 1945, tried unsuccessfully to convince RKO to replace Grant, who was tied up until Oct 1945, with Joseph Cotten and rush the film into production. Modern sources state that Selznick originally wanted Clifton Webb to play Sebastian, while Hitchcock considered George Sanders and opera star Ezio Pinza for the role. Selznick approached Ethel Barrymore to play "Madame Sebastian," but she turned down the part, according to modern sources. Madame Leopoldine Konstantin, who eventually played the role, made her first and only American screen appearance in Notorious .
       HR noted that Hitchcock went to New York to cast the film, and a NYT article commented that he had "set something of a precedent" by signing four New York stage actors to play small roles in the film. According to a HR news item, Hitchcock tested Don Douglas for a "top role" in the production. (Douglas was not cast, however, and died on 31 Dec 1945 of appendicitis.) The CBCS lists both Luis Serrano and Ramon Nomar in the role of "Dr. Silva." It is not known which actor played the part, or if both actors appeared in the final film in different roles. HR production charts include Lenore Ulric in the cast, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Hitchcock makes his customary cameo by appearing as a party guest near the champagne table. In late Dec 1945, Bergman's five-year, $2,000-per-week contract with Selznick expired, and, according to a NYT article, Notorious was the last film she made as a Selznick star.
       In a modern interview, Hitchcock recalled that, because of the height difference between Claude Rains and Bergman, he had Rains stand on a box during his close-up shots with the actress. In another shot, Hitchcock had a graduated plank constructed, which enabled him to film Rains and Bergman walking toward the camera in a single shot while maintaining the height illusion. A HCN news item revealed that cinematographer Ted Tetzlaff created his famous "upside down shot" point-of-view shot of Grant, seen early in the film, with the use of mirrors. According to a Nov 1946 NYT article, Hitchcock originally wanted to make his customary onscreen appearance playing a "deaf-mute walking inconspicuously through a street scene 'talking' in sign language to his woman companion." As the couple passes in front of the camera, the woman was to slap Hitchcock's face. When word of the proposed bit got out, Hitchcock received scores of protest letters from deaf-mutes and dropped the idea. In the final film, Hitchcock appears drinking a glass of champagne at Alicia's party.
       According to modern sources, in the spring of 1945, Selznick hired Gregg Toland to film rear-projection footage of South America. According to HR , background shots were filmed in Miami, FL. Production files indicate that other scenes were taken in Baldwin Park in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and at the Santa Anita Racetrack near Los Angeles. RKO borrowed Edith Head from Paramount for the production. According to modern sources, the film cost two million dollars to make, but made eight million dollars in profits. Modern critics cite Notorious as an early, sublte example of a post-war "Red Menace" film.
       Claude Rains was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor and Hecht was nominated in the Best Writing (Original Screenplay) category. Ingrid Bergman reprised her role in a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on 26 Jan 1948, co-starring Joseph Cotten. Notorious was remade in 1992 by Hamster-ABC Productions. Colin Bucksey directed and Jenny Robertson and John Shea starred in the television version, which was first broadcast on the Lifetime cable television network on 28 Jan 1992. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   27 Jul 1946.   
Daily Variety   24 Jul 46   pp. 3, 11
Film Daily   25 Jul 46   p. 7.
Hollywood Citizen-News   6 Sep 46   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Oct 44   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Aug 45   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Aug 45   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Aug 45   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Oct 45   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Nov 45   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Nov 45   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Dec 45   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   24 Jul 46   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Aug 46   p. 12.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   2 Mar 46   p. 2870.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   27 Jul 46   p. 3113.
New York Times   28 Oct 1945.   
New York Times   16 Dec 1945.   
New York Times   16 Aug 46   p. 19.
New York Times   3 Nov 1946.   
Variety   24 Jul 46   p. 14.

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