MGM has released three of the four Hitchcock/Selznick films on Blu-ray (“The Paradine Case,” of course, remains the neglected stepchild), which gives me an excuse to return to “Notorious” for this week’s New York Times review. Yep, it’s still a pretty good movie, perhaps the most complexly structured of Hitchcock’s forties films and the one that points forward, in its daring shifts in point of view, to the ultimate audacity of “Psycho.”
I was surprised to discover, in poking around on the web, that “Notorious” is actually a remake — or at least, the second film adaptation of a 1923 novel, “The Song of the Dragon,” by John Taintor Foote. In the 1927 version, “Convoy,” directed by one Joseph C. Boyle, local favorite Dorothy Mackaill stars as a society woman who, at the height of World War I, is assigned by a government agent with the single name “Smith” (Ian Keith) to seduce a German spy (Lowell Sherman) working undercover in New York. A First National release, it’s something that Hitchcock could well have seen and, being the great magpie that he was, filed away for future use the idea of a woman trapped between a distant, manipulative representative of law and order and (certainly as the part would have been played by Sherman) a charming, sympathetic villain. “Convoy” apparently exists and I wonder if there are any other parallels between the two films. Has anyone seen it?
J. Hoberman, who used to write for some downtown club guide (I forget what it was called now), has a typically insightful analysis of the David Gordon Green/Clint Eastwood Superbowl ad up at the blog of the New York Review of Books (one quibble — the Clint I know has long identified himself as a Libertarian, not a Republican). And of course J. continues to aggregate his pieces for his self-proclaimed “Das Blog of Shameless Self-Promotion,” which can be found right here.