Starring: Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant, Claude Rains
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Following her father’s very public disgrace for his involvement with undesirables, Alicia (Bergman) descends into a wanton life of drinking and inappropriate romantic entanglements, until she meets Devlin (Grant). She starts to fall for him, but soon finds that he is recruiting her to work as a spy in Argentina, finding out the secrets of the Nazi friends of her fathers.
It’s a film in which the two lovers can’t seem to get it together, and the film devotes a lot of time to the will-they-won’t-they aspect. When Alicia wonders how far she should go to get the information they need, Devlin says all the way, and then is jealous that she has done, and rejects her for doing it. In the end, she has to marry one of the Nazi’s and move in with him and his evil mother (and boy is she evil!). But Devlin can’t stay away, and is still drawn to her, though his lack of faith in her almost has the worst consequences.
Sebastian (Rains) as the Nazi and eventual husband of Alicia is an interesting character. You feel that in some ways, he really cares for his new wife, and yet his mother’s suspicions and domination mean that his kindness is perverted til the end of the film, when the chance to save his duplicitous wife’s life could cost him his own.
It’s an intriguing film, with Grant playing a hard man, and Bergman a beautiful, damaged woman, parts that showed more range than they were often allowed in other films. The central relationship between them, against the backdrop of espionage and an evil Nazi plot, though it is the main part of the film, is not cute or sweet, both of them have to get over their inability to trust and their bitter pasts if they want to be together. Originally a Selznick film, he sold it to RKO which gave Hitchcock free reign to create what is one of his most acclaimed films, and he is teamed here with the lead actress and writer that served him so well in Spellbound.
See It If: a seminal work for those who love Hitchcock, spy films or film noir. A true classic.