Mike Kueber's Blog

July 9, 2012

Saturday Night at the Movies #36 – Notorious and Hannah and Her Sisters

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 4:08 am
Tags: , ,

Notorious is a 1946 movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, plus Claude Rains from Casablanca fame.  Talk about a good pedigree.  The movie involves a spy plot by American agent Cary Grant who recruits Ingrid Bergman to infiltrate Claude Rains’s Nazi group that has moved to Brazil after the war.  Bergman is a loyal American, but as the daughter of a Nazi, she has street cred with the Nazis. 

Notorious is emotionally complicated for two reasons:

  • Grant immediately falls in love with Bergman, and then must decide whether to allow her to become a secret agent whose job it is to seduce Rains.
  • Rains seems like a good guy (albeit a Nazi) who is being taken advantage of by the seductive Bergman. 

The movie is filmed in black-and-white, and includes a controversial kissing scene that pushed the envelope against the Production Code’s three-second limit.  Grant looks great, but Bergman seems to have aged since her perfection in the 1942 movie Casablanca.  Rotten Tomato critics gives it a 94% rating and the audience gives it 90%.  I agree with the critics and give it three and a half stars.

Hannah and Her Sisters is a 1986 quintessential Woody Allen movie with an ensemble cast.  As usual, the movie is set in Manhattan, and it revolves around the extended family of Hannah, played by Allen’s erstwhile girlfriend Mia Farrow.  Hannah’s sisters are played by Dianne Wiest, who looks 100 times better than when she later appeared in Law & Order, and Barbara Hershey.  Although Allen’s New Yorkers have a distinctive lifestyle and an exceptional interest in culture and the arts, this movie shows that they also have many of the same problems that afflict extended families everywhere.

Hannah and Her Sisters received an Academy nomination for Best Picture and pulled off a rare double victory in the Best Supporting categories by Wiest and Michael Caine.  Rotten Tomatoes critics gave it 93% and the audience gave 87%.  I love movies set in NYC, and I love movies about extended families.  And I love movies about literate, unsnobbish people.  But I can only give it three and a half stars out of four because it lacks is a gripping romance, although the American Film Institute listed it as one of the Top 100 greatest love stories.  No way! – a great love story has to have sparks and passion, and I detected little of that in this movie.     




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