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U.S. 1946

In Notorious, a brilliant allegory of love and betrayal, Hitchcock fuses two of his favorite elements: suspense and romance. A beautiful woman with a tainted past (Ingrid Bergman) is enlisted by American agent Devlin (Cary Grant) to spy on a ring of Nazis in post-war Rio. Her espionage work becomes life-threatening after she marries the most debonair of the Nazi ring, Alex (Claude Rains). Only Devlin can rescue her, but to do so he must face his role in her desperate situation and acknowledge that he’s loved her all along. Stunning performances, Ben Hecht’s excellent script, and Hitchcock’s direction at its best make Notorious a perfect film.

***

Notorious is also famous, of course, for having the longest on-screen kiss, with Bergman and Grant's clinch clocking in at a little over three minutes. Their relationship had a real spark. Grant's character is unsure whether he can trust Bergman, wary that she might hold a grudge against the US and its agents, while Bergman thinks that Grant is just using her. Their uncertainties aid the villains, of whom mummy's boy Alexander - a typically Hitchcockian villain - is only the least despicable. There is also, of course, virtuoso direction from the master. Early on there's a nice point-of-view shot when Alicia wakes up with a hangover after a night socializing. Later, at Alexander's party, there's a crane- shot in which the camera moves downstairs, glides across and over the crowded ballroom and finally zeroes in on Alicia's hand, clutching the stolen key to Alexander's mysterious wine cellar, all in a single magnificent take!

Excerpt from Edinburgh U Film Society [Keith H. Brown] located HERE

Posters (CLICK to enlarge)

Theatrical Release Date: August 22, 1946

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Comparison:

Anchor Bay - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC vs. MGM (Premiere Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. MGM - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

1) Anchor Bay Region 0 - NTSC LEFT

2) Criterion Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) MGM (Première Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) MGM - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

Distribution

Anchor Bay Entertainment 

Region 0  - NTSC

Criterion Collection Spine # 137
Region 1 - NTSC
MGM (Premiere Collection)
Region 1 - NTSC

MGM

Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:41:09 1:42:06 1:41:33 1:41:40.803
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.43 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.37:1 Original Aspect Ratio 
Average Bitrate: 7.83
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio 
Average Bitrate: 7.22
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 38,521,567,097 bytes

Feature: 32,175,759,360 bytes

Video Bitrate: 37.39 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Anchor Bay

 

Bitrate:

Criterion

Bitrate:

MGM

Bitrate:

MGM Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono) English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2026 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2026 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit / DN -4dB)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Subtitles None English, and none English, Spanish, French, and none English (SDH), and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:

Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Discographic Information:
DVD Encoding: All Regions
Layers: Single

Edition Details:
• All Regions
• Black & White

DVD Release Date: September 7th, 1999
Keep Case

Chapters 18

 


Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:

Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Discographic Information:
Layers: Dual

Edition Details:

• Commentary by Hitchcock film scholar Marian Keane and film historian Rudy Behlmer, editor of Memo from David O. Selznick
• Theatrical trailer
• Complete broadcast of the 1948 Lux Radio Theater adaptation, starring Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten
• Rare production, publicity, rear projection photos, as well as promotional posters and lobby cards
• Production correspondence
• Collection of trailers & teasers
• Script excerpts of deleted scenes and alternate endings
• Excerpts from the short story "The Song of the Dragon," source material for Notorious
• Rare newsreel footage of Bergman and Hitchcock
• Liner notes by Hitchcock scholar William Rothman, author of the landmark study Hitchcock: The Murderous Gaze
• Isolated music score and effects track

DVD Release Date: October 16th, 2001
Keep Case

Chapters 26

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:

Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Discographic Information:
Layers: Dual

 

Edition Details:

• Commentary by Rick Jewell

• Commentary by Drew Casper
• Theatrical trailer
• Isolated Music track
• The Ultimate Romance: the Making of Notorious (28:20)
• Alfred Hitchcock The Ultimate Spymaster (13:09)
• The American Film Institute Award: The Key to Hitchcock (3:19)
• Complete broadcast of the 1948 Lux Radio Theater adaptation, starring Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten

Hitchcock Interviews - excerpts from the director's conversations with filmmaker Francois Truffaut (16:22) and Peter Bogdanovich (2:19)

Restoration Comparison (2:54)

• Trailer

Stills Gallery (Posters, Portraits, Behind the Scenes)


DVD Release Date: October 14th, 2008
Keep Case

Chapters 24

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 38,521,567,097 bytes

Feature: 32,175,759,360 bytes

Video Bitrate: 37.39 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Commentary by Rick Jewell

• Commentary by Drew Casper
• Isolated Music track
• The Ultimate Romance: the Making of Notorious (28:20)
• Alfred Hitchcock The Ultimate Spymaster (13:09)
• The American Film Institute Award: The Key to Hitchcock (3:19)
• Complete broadcast of the 1948 Lux Radio Theater adaptation, starring Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten

Hitchcock Interviews - excerpts from the director's conversations with filmmaker Francois Truffaut (16:22) and Peter Bogdanovich (2:19)

Restoration Comparison (2:54)

• Trailer


Blu-ray Release Date:

January 12th, 2004
Standard Blu-ray
Case

Chapters 24

Comments:

NOTE: These Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: MGM - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (January 12'): Notorious benefits from the 1080P, dual-layered. transfer by MGM. The film's thick textures are more apparent. The Criterion DVD was strong for the SD format but the Blu-ray ratchets up another solid notch. Contrast is a bit more layered but detail doesn't rise substantially. Grain is more prevalent but noise still exists in some of the darker scenes. Overall the improvements will depend on your system and discerning eye. It is easy to see that it has a far more film-like representation but depth is not a feature exhibited by the HD rendering, in this case. The image remains very clean with only a few speckles. Predictably a shade more information appears in all 4 sides of the frame.

 

MGM offer a DTS-HD Master mono at 2026 kbps. This lossless track is competent exporting the film's dialogue and Roy Webb's original score - which is isolated in a simple Dolby transfer for those who wish to partake. It is rendered to a flawless state with some depth notable. There are optional English subtitles and I determine it to be a Region 'A' Blu-ray disc.

 

Extras mimic the last MGM (Premiere Collection) DVD release with the dual commentaries, radio broadcast, Hitch interviews and featurettes. Nothing new - but still quite excellent.

This seems essential to me - especially at the price offered. One of Hitchcock's most sullen films with two of the best looking people ever to grace the screen. I envisioned seeing this in its initial theatrical run when I watched the Blu-ray. That alone is worth the reasonable price. Recommended!

***

NOTE: Defective MGM Hitchcock Premiere Collection
Reports
are coming in by the droves about the MGM Hitchcock Premiere Collection. We do not yet own the entire set and have only covered Notorious and Rebecca which played without issue on my Malata - but we understand many individual's players are having problems with all, or selective transfers from the set. These represent faults such as the disc wobbling in the tray, unsubstantiated noise in playback, freezing and chapter skips. MGM must recall this set immediately. If you own the set please verify if you too have these problems and report them to the outlet you purchased them or MGM directly. If we find an email to use we will post it here.

ADDITION: MGM - Region - Premiere Collection - October 08': This ends up being a real toss up. The Criterion and new MGM are very close in all categories. Image-wise the MGM is brighter and I think it comes down to what you might prefer - personally I like the darker look of the Criterion. The Premiere Collection issue, being brighter, can give the impression, in some sequences, of being sharper (when I don't believe that it really is) - but it also has tendency to show both more grain and digital noise. In fact the Criterion may be slightly more detailed. I could make comments about the marginal differences in contrast and black levels but without putting the magnifying glass too close I'd have to say that both editions give a fine SD-DVD presentation of the image of Hitchcock's Notorious. This is akin to our feelings about Rebecca.

Audio - I noted no discernable differences. The MGM also offers Spanish and French subtitles (as well as the English that are included on the Criterion).

Extras - what it seems to me is that MGM have used the Criterion as a standard to achieve towards or attempt to minutely advance upon. They have included two new commentaries (Rick Jewell and Drew Casper) and both are excellent (I especially enjoyed the Casper one). I also greatly enjoyed the Keane/Behlmer ones on the Criterion. Both have the complete broadcast of the 1948 Lux Radio Theater adaptation, starring Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten. MGM add two decent featurettes - The Ultimate Romance: the Making of Notorious (28:20) and Alfred Hitchcock The Ultimate Spymaster (13:09).  Like on Rebecca there are more Hitchcock Interviews - excerpts from the director's conversations with filmmaker Francois Truffaut (16:22) and Peter Bogdanovich (2:19). There is also some minor supplements - The American Film Institute Award: The Key to Hitchcock (3:19), a restoration comparison (2:54), trailer and some stills galleries (Posters, Portraits, Behind the Scenes). It's pretty complete and impressive.

This is one of Hitchcock's most discussed and enigmatic films and both SD-DVD editions (MGM and Criterion) do an upstanding job of presenting the films and adding relevant discussion material. My opinion is that serious Hitchcock fans will want both editions - otherwise as the Criterion is out-of-print, the MGM seems a ridiculous deal at the offered price. Most should probably indulge in the entire Premier Collection - especially if all the DVDs are as stacked as this and Rebecca - it will probably amount to being one of the THE DVD packages of the year. MGM have really impressed me.

This will be one amazing Blu-ray (vastly improving the compression and limiting the noise) if it eventually reaches that lofty plateau.    

Gary W. Tooze 

***

ON THE CRITERION vs. the ANCHOR BAY: These are two discs that make for a sterling comparison. The Anchor Bay released almost 2 years earlier looks quite poor in certain capture comparisons. I am interested in how much the Criterion appears cropped on the left hand vertical side. Another intriguing difference is in the title credits - this is similar to the Rebecca DVDs where Criterion used a totally different font title than the Anchor Bay one. The sound, although very close to the  Criterion... has a bit of a hiss in the Anchor Bay version. The soundtrack for Notorious was restored and preserved from a 1954 35mm acetate release print, a 35mm nitrate fine-grain master, and a 35mm nitrate optical music & effects track positive. New 35mm magnetic analog masters and DA-88 digital masters were created utilizing Sonic Solutions noise reduction software. The Extras are obviously Criterions as well. In the Anchor Bay version, a whole minute disappears. the Criterion title sequence only takes 13 seconds so I don't know what is missing, only that something is.

In the capture where Bergman and Grant are in the car together, you can plainly see where the Criterion version does not have the print scratch, but also the extent of the vertical cropping by Criterion.  But the Criterion is far too sharp ( 2nd last captures ) and the black levels and contrast superbly done. The picture for Notorious was restored and preserved from the original 35mm nitrate camera negative, a 35mm nitrate fine-grain master, and a 35mm nitrate copyright print. A newly printed 35mm fine-grain master, and the 35mm nitrate fine-grain master for Reels 4A and 5B, were used for the digital film-to-tape transfer. Inherent film artifacts were corrected in video with the MTI Digital Restoration System. I don't think I need to say it but "Go for the Criterion... all the way.

Gary W. Tooze 


Recommended Reading in Film Noir (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

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MGM (Premiere Collection)



(Anchor Bay R0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Criterion R1 - NTSC - RIGHT)

MGM - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 Screen Captures

MGM - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Subtitles

 


NOTE: Criterion preferred the picture boxed look to the opening credits.

1) Anchor Bay Region 0 - NTSC - TOP

2) Criterion Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM

 


1) Anchor Bay Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) MGM (Première Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) MGM - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Anchor Bay Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) MGM (Première Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) MGM - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Anchor Bay Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) MGM (Première Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) MGM - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Anchor Bay Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) MGM (Première Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) MGM - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Anchor Bay Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) MGM (Première Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) MGM - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Anchor Bay Region 0 - NTSC TOP

2) Criterion Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND

3) MGM (Première Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC - THIRD

4) MGM - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

Box Covers

Distribution

Anchor Bay Entertainment 

Region 0  - NTSC

Criterion Collection Spine # 137
Region 1 - NTSC
MGM (Premiere Collection)
Region 1 - NTSC

MGM

Region 'A' - Blu-ray


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Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Criterion / MGM / Blu-ray