Opening choices in Notorious

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. It may be a cliché, but Alfred Hitchcock apparently took it to heart. In this piece, John Gibbs and Douglas Pye take a scalpel to the opening scene of Hitchcock’s Notorious. The scene was extensively reworked from its original inception, including costly reshoots. But as this video essay proves, those alterations have greatly enhanced the film’s thematic resonance. The opening now sets up motifs and methods that will pop up again and again throughout the movie.


Gibbs and Pye use the video essay form in a classic but deft way in their close analysis. The opening scene becomes the refrain to which they return time and again in their detailed examination of various aspects of Notorious‘ narrative and thematic strategies. Split screens and side-by-side visuals offer visual proof of the authors’ statements of how motifs and visual approaches proliferate throughout this classic suspense movie.