When it comes to Alfred Hitchcock and his leading ladies, the one name that typically get the most attention is Ingrid Bergman, who starred in three of Hitchcock’s films: The Best Picture nominated Spellbound, the flawless masterpiece Notorious, and the lesser known Under Capricorn. Ingrid Bergman was everything Hitchcock typically desired in a leading lady: Beautiful, intelligent, and independent. Added to that, Ingrid Bergman was a Hollywood icon, primarily known for her tough negotiation for roles and refusing to be contracted to any film studio. Ingrid Bergman was the first celebrity to choose her own roles and dictate her own terms, which garnered her much respect. By the time she starred in Notorious, she had already been nominated three times, have won once for Lead Actress for Gaslight. Ultimately she would win the Oscar three times, twice for Lead Actress (Gaslight, Anastasia) and once for Supporting Actress (Murder on the Orient Express). Yet when observing Bergman’s career, it is hard to accept that none of her various nominations was for any of her Hitchcock work.
The most glaring of the three Hitchcock film snubs is Notorious, which has also become one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most beloved films from fans. The film stars Ingrid Bergman as Alicia Huberman, whose father has been imprisoned for espionage. As a result of her father’s dishonor to the family name, Alicia is demoralized and emotionally alone. Soon she meets Devlin (Cary Grant), a government agent who convinces her to work undercover for the United States government to locate known Nazis her father had once known who are now operating out of Rio, South America. Alicia’s entry with this group of Nazis is through Alexander Sebastian (Claude Raines), who was a former suitor of hers. In the process of Alicia integrating herself with the group, she falls in love with Devlin. This becomes complicated when Alexander asks Alicia to marry him, which she does to maintain her cover, causing her to be vulnerable from being found out that she is a spy.
For Ingrid Bergman, this was her most complex Hitchcock role. In contrast to her other Hitchcock roles, Bergman’s Alicia Huberman is one built from strength, so much so that her character actually caused Cary Grant’s performance to be more reactionary towards her. In contrast to her role with Claude Raines, her performance is careful and methodical, which was in line with the character embodying a role to diminish suspicion of why she is there. For more details on Ingrid Bergman’s performance in Notorious, check out my mini-feature on the film HERE.