Notorious (1946)

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock

In order to help bring Nazis to justice, U.S. government agent T.R. Devlin recruits Alicia Huberman, the American daughter of a convicted German war criminal, as a spy. As they begin to fall for one another, Alicia is instructed to win the affections of Alexander Sebastian, a Nazi hiding out in Brazil. When Sebastian becomes serious about his relationship with Alicia, the stakes get higher, and Devlin must watch her slip further undercover.

Ah, even in a film where the sexual promiscuity of the main female character is right there in the title of the movie, the Hays Code meant you still couldn't show a husband and wife waking up in the same bed.

Anyway, there are a number of small touches that show there's a master at work who is at the top of his game. To be sure, I don't merely mean the last five minutes of the film which must surely rank as some of the best in all of cinema. What I mean are things like:

• Ingrid Bergman's Alicia Huberman asks Cary Grant's T.R. Devlin "What's your angle?" … who was shown mere moments before in such an extreme Dutch angle that it surely cannot be a coincidence.

• The Hitchcock cameo is not just the regular appearance for the (meticulously and carefully cultivated) fanbase who go in for that sort of thing. Rather, Hitchcock drinks a whole glass of champagne right in front of our noses... thus depleting the party's stocks and literally ramping up the suspense both in-front and behind the camera at the same time.

• "You know the situation better than anyone else…" is almost Shakespearean in its sense of layered irony; something Iago might say, perhaps. Alicia's "All the bottles look the same to me" is a great double meaning as well, although perhaps more of a Falstaffian line now that I think of it…

• Captain Paul Prescott satirises the underlying hypocrisy of the 'honourable gentleman' by his idea that, whilst he has no qualms whatsoever about putting Alicia in mortal danger due to reputation and her status as a fallen woman, he still feels he is honour-bound to call her "Mrs. Sebastian" once she gets married as part of that same plot.

Oh, I just realised that the British police essentially did this plot to ecological justice groups during the 2010s.