A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie might bore kids. It's implied that Alicia has an affair with Devlin and her future husband Sebastian. Other characters frequently comment on her immoral character, but nothing is sexually or even romantically explicit. There's a scene in which Devlin allows Alicia to drive drunk. Moreover, gender roles are antiquated in that Alicia's only value is as a sexual being and her interest in a man motivates her decisions.
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What's the story?
After her Nazi father is convicted of treason, Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) gets drawn in as a spy for the American government. Her assignment is to infiltrate the inner circle of Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), once in love with her, who happens to be part of a Nazi plot involving smuggled uranium. Alicia and her government contact T.R. Devlin (Cary Grant) fall in love, but dutiful Alicia marries Sebastian in order to get access to top secret information. When she's discovered as a spy, Sebastian's mother urges her son to kill his new wife.
Is it any good?
Hitchcock directed it, critics acclaimed it, and Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman are only the tip of the talented cast. So what makes NOTORIOUS less appealing than other films with the same parameters? Well, it moves painfully slowly. Its snail's pace might be a filmic reflection of Alicia's drawn out suffering. Even if it can easily claim this -- and more -- in artistic merits, the film will make you downright drowsy. Do not operate heavy machinery while watching it.
Devlin and Alicia's romance is predictable given what we expect from attractive leads, but you might wonder if you missed something. Their on-screen romance is quite sudden and short-lived. Still, inevitable tension results when Ms. Huberman becomes Mrs. Sebastian. The master of suspense does deliver on that count. By the end of the film, it doesn't look so good for Alicia and, though sedated, you might be biting your nails in anticipation of a potentially unfortunate finale.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the many moral dilemmas that Alicia faces. These include her loyalty to her father versus her country, drinking and driving, and using her sexuality to be a spy.
Do you think her marriage to Mr. Sebastian is a good decision? When does her sacrifice become greater than her reward? What is her "reward" anyway?
What makes the women in this movie unequal to the men? Can you think of scenes in which male superiority is taken for granted?
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