Picks and Pans Review: Notorious
It's pretty nervy to remake Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1946 thriller, which starred Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and Claude Rains.
In this update, Jenny Robertson takes the Bergman role as a reckless, over-imbibing jet-setter who is romanced and recruited by a smooth CIA agent (WIOU's John Shea, in the Grant role) to be a secret operative in France. With very mixed feelings, he sends her to seduce a sinister international arms dealer (Jean-Pierre Cassel, in the Rains role) who eventually takes Robertson as his wife. Marisa Berenson and Paul Guilfoyle costar.
The new Notorious maintains all the essentials of Ben Hecht's original plot. (Even the McGuffin—Hitchcock's catchall phrase for whatever it is the good guys and bad guys are wrangling over—is still down in the wine cellar.) None of the leads shines. Most crucially, Shea, TV's modest answer to Warren Beatty, can't convey the subtle ambivalence that Grant gave the character. Because of that, the climactic rescue scene lacks suspense.
Still, the espionage angle, the Continental setting and the looming of Hitchcock's ample shadow make this more watchable than most made-for-cable movies.