by John Wendt
"Every day the Justice
Department is working tirelessly, taking this war to the hideouts
and havens of our enemies, so that it never again touches the
hearths and homes of America."(Attorney General Ashcroft
Before Congress About the Patriot Act Prepared remarks before
the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary June
switch to the doors at the entrance of the courtroom of the United
States District Court, Southern District of Florida. From the
doors you can see the back of a defendant and his counsel as
they face the judge for sentencing
Judge: ".... any legal
reason why sentence should not be pronounced?"
Defense Counsel: "No,
Defendant Huberman: "Yes.
I have something to say. You can put me away. But you can't
put away what's going to happen to you and to this whole country
next time. Next time we are going to..."
Defense Counsel: (whispers
to Huberman) "I wouldn't say any more. We'll leave that
for the appeal."
Judge: "It is the judgment
of this court that the defendant, John Huberman, having been
found guilty of the crime of treason against the United States
by the jury of this court for the southern district of Florida
at Miami, be committed to the custody of the United States Attorney
General for imprisonment in an institution of the penitentiary
type for a period of twenty years. And the defendant may be
forthwith remanded to the custody of the United States Marshall.
Court is now adjourned."
This is the opening scene of
Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious. Ingrid Bergman is Alicia
Huberman, the daughter of a convicted Nazi spy. Alicia is a "woman
of that sort" - notorious for her drinking, parties and
her apparently "loose sexual nature." Soon after her
father is convicted of treason, she meets a handsome man named
Devlin (Cary Grant) at one of her parties in Miami. But then
it turns out that Devlin is a "Federal cop." And Alicia
knows that because association to her father that she is dangerous,
"I hate low underhanded people like policemen, pussyfooting
after you. Because I'm a marked woman, you know. I'm liable
to blow up the Panama Canal any minute now. .."
However, Devlin and the feds
want her to use her family connections to spy on a ring of neo-Nazis
in Rio for the United States. She is reluctant. But, they know
that she is a patriot. How do they know - because they have
tapped her telephone.
Devlin: "My department
authorized me to engage you to do some work for us, it's a job
Alicia: "Oh, go away.
The whole thing bores me."
Devlin: "Some of the German
gentry who were paying your father are working in Rio. Ever
hear of the I. G. Farben Industries?"
Alicia: "I tell you, I'm
Devlin: "Farben has men
in South America, planted there before the war. We're cooperating
with the Brazilian government to smoke them out. My chief thinks
that the daughter of a, uh..."
Alicia: "Of a traitor?"
Devlin: "Well, he thinks
you might be valuable in the work. They might sort of trust
you. And you could make up a little for your daddy's peculiarities."
Alicia: "Why should I?"
Alicia: "That word gives
me a pain. No, thank you, I don't go for patriotism, nor --
Devlin (leaving the room):
"I'd like to dispute that with you."
Alicia: "Waving the flag
with one hand and picking pockets with the other. That's your
patriotism. Well, you can have it. She gets out of bed."
Devlin: "We've had your
bungalow wired for three months."
Devlin: (reading aloud from the label on a phonograph record)
"Conversation between John Huberman and daughter Alicia,
six-thirty p.m., January the ninth, nineteen forty-six at Miami
Beach, Florida. Devlin puts the record on the turntable."
Devlin: "Some of the evidence
that wasn't used at the trial."
Alicia: "I don't want
to hear that."
Devlin: "Relax, hardboard,
The record begins and you can
hear Huberman's (her father's) voice: "...money in it,
Alicia's Voice: "I told
you before Christmas I wouldn't do it."
Huberman's Voice: "You
don't use your judgment. You can have anything you want. The
work is easy."
Alicia's Voice: "I'll
not listen, father."
Huberman's Voice: "This
is not your country, is it?"
Alicia's Voice: "My mother
was born here. We have American citizenship."
Huberman's Voice: "Where
is your judgment? In your feelings, you are German. You've
got to listen to me. You don't know what we stand for."
Alicia's Voice: "I know
what you stand for. You and your murdering swine. I've hated
you ever since I found out."
Huberman's Voice: "My
daughter, don't talk to me like that."
Alicia's Voice: "Stay
on your side of the table!"
Huberman's Voice: "Alicia,
put your voice down."
Alicia's Voice: "I hate
you all. And I love this country, do you understand that? I
love it. I'll see you all hang before I raise a finger against
it. Now, go on and get out of here. Or so help me, I'll turn
you in. Don't ever come near me or speak to me again 'bout your
But, this being Hollywood and
also because it is Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, they are more
than just agents in the spy game fighting against traitors -
they fall in love, something that Devlin never considered. And
then comes the news of their (or rather Alicia's) specific assignment
- using her feminine wiles and seductive charms on an old friend
of her father's, Alexander Sebastian (Claude Rains), who was
once in love with her, again a surprise to Devlin.
Devlin's boss says, "Sebastian's
house is a cover-up for whatever this Farben group's up to here
in Rio. We've got to get Miss Huberman inside that house and
find out what's going on there." Devlin tells Alicia, "Find
out what's going on inside his house, what the group around him
is up to, and report to us."
At the American Embassy Devlin's
bosses are pleased to know that their "theatrical plan
is working." They now know that Sebastian's cohorts including
Professor Wilhelm Otto Rensler ("one of Germany's scientific
wizards" going under the name "Dr. Anderson")
are "experimenting" in Sebastian's house in Rio. And
they have found this out because of Alicia and her charms. They
all know what sort of woman Alicia is.
Beardsley (one of Devlin's
bosses), "She's had me worried for some time. A woman
of that sort."
Devlin: (to Beardsley) "What
sort is that, Mr. Beardsley?"
Beardsley: "Oh, I don't
think any of us have any illusions about her character, have
Devlin (bitterly ironic): "Not at all, not the slightest.
Miss Huberman is first, last, and always not a lady. She may
be risking her life, but when it comes to being a lady, she doesn't
hold a candle to your wife, sir, sitting in Washington playing
bridge with three other ladies of great honor and virtue."
go awry when Sebastian asks Alicia to marry him. Prescott (Devlin's
boss) asks, "Are you willing to go this far for us, Miss
Huberman?" and she says, "Yes, if you wish."
Barbosa, the local official even glees, "Gentlemen, it's
the cream of the jest."
After Alicia and Sebastian
return from their honeymoon, Alicia continues her work. At a
coming home party she invites Devlin and the two of them discover
the secret of Sebastian and his evil friends - special sand filled
with uranium ore. (Did the CIA recently say that Iraq tried
to purchase uranium from Africa? Which is the MacGuffin?)
Sebastian suddenly realizes
that not only may Alicia be in love with Devlin, but worse, he
is married to an American agent. If his cohorts find out, Sebastian
himself will be doomed. What to do? His wicked mother, Madame
Sebastian (Madame Leopoldine Konstantin) has the answer, "Let
me arrange this one. Listen to me. No one must know what she
is. There must be no suspicion of her, of you, or me. She must
be allowed to move about freely. But she will be on a leash.
She will learn nothing further to inform. She must go, but it
must happen slowly. If she could become ill and remain ill for
a time, until... " They begin to slowly poison her. Can
Devlin save her in time?
Made in 1946 just after World
War II, Notorious shows the interplay of patriotism and
the spy game, love and duty. As in real life most Hitchcock
heroes are not framed in black and white. Devlin is often seen
as cold, while we can easily see Sebastian falling in love with
Alicia, and we can also understand Sebastian's doom.
Some have said that Notorious
was made only after long discussions between J. Edgar Hoover,
Hitchcock and David O. Selznick, because of the delicate times
and especially because it dealt with uranium and the atomic bomb.
Notorious should be seen because of its all-star
cast, the writing of Ben Hecht, the scoring of Roy Webb, the
gowns by Edith Head, the incredible cinematography by Ted Tetzlaff
and the direction of Alfred Hitchcock. Notorious should
be seen because it shows us Hitchcock's recognition of the conflicts
of human nature.
Posted February 9, 2004