Suspenseful but slow-moving Hitchcock thriller.
  • Review Date: July 13, 2005
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1946
  • Running Time: 102 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The government essentially asks Alicia to prostitute herself, and the film features dated gender roles.

Positive role models

It's implied that Alicia has an affair with Devlin and her future husband Sebastian. Other characters frequently comment on her immoral character.

Not applicable

It's implied that Alicia is a "tainted" woman, but even when she's married, the beds are separate.

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Guests drink at a party. Alicia drives while drunk without real consequences.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 6, 1946
DVD release date:October 16, 2001
Cast:Cary Grant, Claude Rains, Ingrid Bergman
Director:Alfred Hitchcock
Studio:Criterion Collection
Run time:102 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 14 year old Written byTsion July 1, 2009

The Ultimate Espionage Film...

Alicia Huberman's father has recently been convicted for treason against the US. He was helping the Nazis obtain inside information in WWII. This makes Alicia useful to the US Government: they want her as an inside agent in the Nazi regime. She has fallen in love with agent T.R. Delvin, so she agrees to endear herself to a key Nazi and obtain information. But as she gets deeper inside the regime, the danger mounts. This is truly an explosive tale, and the perfect spy movie, filled to the brim with suspense, thrills, and passion. It's not a good movie for young kids (many scenes of passionate kissing, but nothing sexual; tons of drinking and lots of mentions of alcoholism), but for preteens and up, it will make for a wonderful cinematic experience.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Great role models
Teen, 15 years old Written bywho3697cares December 26, 2008

One of my favorite Hitchcock films


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