It’s nearly universally agreed upon that Alfred Hitchcock is one of the best – if not the very best – directors to have ever lived. The Master of Suspense made pictures that succeeded in the silent and sound eras. His films ranged from suspense horror to film noir to romantic comedies. Complex stories and chilling plot twists aided Mr. Hitchcock in perpetually keeping his audience entertained.
But perhaps what is most striking in Hitchcock’s filmography is the superb acting. Many of the performances he got from his actors were their career best, so it’s no wonder that Hollywood legends like James Stewart, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly and Ingrid Bergman wanted to work with him on multiple occasions. Though Hitchcock reportedly stated that, in film, “the director is God” and that actors “should be treated like cattle,” there’s no denying that the acting performances in his films are part of what keep them resonant throughout the decades.
So keep your show curtains wide open and Dial B for the best male Hitchcock performances…
5. Cary Grant As Devlin In Notorious (1946)
Notorious is arguably Hitchcock’s most underrated film. It tells the story of government agent Devlin who has to convince the daughter of a Nazi spy to go undercover in Rio de Janiero in order to seduce information out of Alex Sebastian, a cohort of the Nazis with some mysterious black sand trapped away in wine bottles.
In setting up this affair, Devlin finds himself in an awkward situation. Alicia Huberman, the Nazi’s daughter, looks just like Ingrid Bergman, possibly the foxiest leading lady in the history of the silver screen. And though she’s a drunk, and quite possibly a whore, Devlin understandably finds himself instantly smitten.
Cary Grant succeeds in this movie, being both convincing as a spy and the reluctant lover of Alicia. Unlike in North by Northwest, where Grant always seems a tad too suave, Devlin gives us an interesting mix of skilled repartee akin to His Girl Friday and jilted lover, forced to watch as the woman he loves is cast into the role of succubus.
The dynamic between Grant and Bergman is reason enough to classify this movie as a masterpiece. The pre-Brazil scene between them making dinner plans is unbelievably sexy, despite the fact that censors at the time didn’t allow a cut of two people kissing to last longer than mere seconds. And frankly, Bergman is so gorgeous I don’t know of any activity with her that would last more than a few seconds.