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"She makes love for the papers": love, sex, and exploitation in Hitchcock's Mata Hari films.

Many critics consider North by Northwest (1959) to be, as Raymond Bellour has put it, Alfred Hitchcock's "lavish rejoinder" to his earlier (1935), similarly plotted The 39 Steps (77). And, indeed, when viewed through the eyes of the narratives' male protagonists, the two films can be seen to trace almost identical trajectories of false accusation, police pursuit, and inadvertent submersion in international espionage activity. But, if we choose instead to view North by Northwest through the eyes of its female lead, it is far more accurate to label it as a rejoinder to another earlier film about a woman who is prostituted by her country in the name of patriotism: Notorious (1946). Placed in the tenuous position of the mythologized Mata Hari sex-spy, both Alicia Huberman (Ingrid Bergman) and Eve Kendall (Eva Marie Saint) are forced to negotiate a complex web of seduction, deception, romance, and duty. This Mata Hari subplot examines a calloused American government that pimps its female citizens for political gain.

Even though the legend of Mata Hari as "the greatest woman spy of the century" (1) has been largely debunked by historians in recent years, the iconic erotic dancer who was executed by the French army for treason in the midst of World War I continues to symbolize a certain politicized brand of the femme fatale within the cultural imagination. And since, as Mary Ann Doane notes, "the femme fatale has a special relevance in cinematic representation" (1), it is not surprising that Mata Hari-style seductresses have been routinely featured on the silver screen. For the most part, these characters play into the stereotype of the conniving, sexually rapacious, deceitful woman, leading many feminist critics to complain that they reinforce and promote male fears about female sexuality. (2) Moreover, historians like Tammy Proctor have demonstrated the extent to which the false image of the sultry "spy-courtesan" has overshadowed and belittled the very real contributions made by women who have served in civil or military positions as part of the intelligence community over the years--women who "worked as soldiers, not seductresses" (5). But the two heroines of North by Northwest and Notorious who are explicitly linked to the legend of Mata Hari throughout the course of their narratives function in a different way than the majority of their celluloid sisters, for their stories have less in common with the fictive tale of sexual dominance, romantic intrigue, and political betrayal that was told by prosecutors during Mata Hari's war trial than with the revised account of Dutch-born Margaretha Zelle's beleaguered life in espionage to which most historians give credence today.

In 1985, the French minister of National Defense was persuaded to break the seal on court documents that were supposed to be kept in confidence until 2017, one hundred years from the date of Mata Hari's execution. According to the evidence uncovered therein, Mata Hari had agreed to spy just twice in her life. The first time was in May of 1916, when she accepted 20,000 francs from the Germans to perform some low-level informing for them. But Mata Hari did not, in fact, provide the Germans with any information; to her mind, the money was payback for some furs which had been confiscated in Berlin at the outset of the war. The second time that Mata Hari took on a spy commission was in September of 1916, this time for the French. Her reasons for agreeing to spy for the French were three-fold. First, she needed money, demanding the staggering sum of one million francs for her work. Second, she had recently fallen in love (for the first time in her life) with a blinded, 21-year-old Russian officer who was laid up in a French war hospital; she hoped that agreeing to help the Allied cause would gain her the permit she needed to visit him. Third, she wanted to replenish her sense of importance, which had begun to dwindle since her prominence a decade earlier as the toast of the Parisian nightlife. Had things gone according to plan, Mata Hari might indeed have become the all-powerful political seductress that her enemies would paint her to be.

What Mata Hari did not realize was that the French intelligence officer who commissioned her services in 1916 was her enemy. His name was Captain Georges Ladoux, and by the time of their first meeting he was already convinced that she was a German agent. Hoping to catch her in a mistake, Ladoux invited her into the French-intelligence fold, though he never gave her any assignments or paid her any money. Frustrated with her lack of deployment, Mata Hari took matters into her own hands in December by seducing one German official and extracting some old and insignificant military information from him, which she proudly offered up to Ladoux. But this act proved to be the source of her undoing: the German official perceived immediately that she was spying for the French and began sending out false radiograms (in a code that he knew the French had already deciphered), depicting Mata Hari as a German informant. This was the primary evidence provided by Ladoux at her war trial, and it was enough to send her to the firing squad. Historians have now determined, however, that Ladoux knew that the radiograms were decoys months before the trial began but chose to conceal this fact in order to obtain a conviction. The question, of course, is why. Why did both the French and the Germans resort to subterfuge in order to assassinate a woman who was posing little threat to either nation? According to many biographers, the answer is tied to the larger gender politics of the day: "As a woman and as a public figure, Mata Hari represented a disturbingly mobile femininity. Her trial was an attempt to fix that mobility within the regime of sexual and imperial relations" (White 74). Thus the true story of Mata Hari--or as close to that true story as we can get--appears to be less about the untrustworthiness of female sexuality and more about the untrustworthiness, even sadistic cruelty, of male authority. And the same could be said of Hitchcock's Notorious and North by Northwest.

In critical discussions of these works, relatively little attention has been paid to the emotional plights of Alicia Huberman or Eve Kendall resulting from the perverseness of their patriotic duties. This is perhaps somewhat more understandable in Eve's case, since, as Steven Cohen points out, "the film's concentration on Roger [Cary Grant] pushes her subjectivity to the margins of the narrative action so that the drama in her story appears to happen solely off screen" (15). But the omission is harder to explain when it comes to Alicia, whose Mata Hari story unfolds entirely on screen and in fact accounts for the bulk of the film's diegetic tension. Most male analysts of the film, including Hitchcock himself, have chosen to view it from Devlin's (Cary Grant's) perspective rather than Alicia's. Thus, according to Hitchcock, "The story of Notorious is the old conflict between love and duty. Cary Grant's job--and it's a rather ironic situation--is to push Ingrid Bergman into Claude Rains's bed" (qtd. in Truffaut 171). Following a similar logic, Lee Edelman argues that Notorious is based upon "the fantasy wherein women must take shit from men in order to take men from the realm of shit" (155), and Michael Renov analyzes the masculine anxieties at play within "the male system of Hitchcock's Notorious" (30). Even essays that do focus upon Alicia often find ways of de-emphasizing her personal stake in her own story. John Beebe, for example, uses Alicia's character as a metaphor for the entire "postwar psyche"; he does "not think we get very far by seeing her as an actual woman experiencing something personally discomfiting" (29).

One notable exception to this critical disregard for Alicia's feelings can be found in Tania Modleski's The Women Who Knew Too Much, in which we are given a full chapter devoted to considering the ways that Alicia's story "expose[s] some of the problems of women's existence under patriarchy" (58). Modleski does identify Alicia's sexualized job description as one such problem and hypothesizes that "the threat inherent in Alicia's role as a Mata Hari may account for the severity of the punishment she undergoes" throughout the course of the film (61), but the observation remains hypothetical. Moreover, because North by Northwest is not one of the primary films explored in Modleski's book, the similar psychological experiences of Eve Kendall are largely unexamined. When Eve is considered in critical reviews, she is generally written off as an undeveloped mystery, a problematic unknown; as Christopher Morris puts it, "she is a mask without a knowable interior. It is as if her face became the residual, the container of the nothingness dissimulated by her layers of protective secrecy" (208). Indeed, the personal backstory that humanizes Eve and explains how she came to be a sexual operative for Central Intelligence is confined entirely to one brief scene in the woods near Mount Rushmore--a scene which, not coincidentally, the studio brass wanted to cut from the movie, but which Hitchcock insisted was "indispensable." When Hitchcock's two Mata Hari films speak to one another, however, the detailed depiction of Alicia's story can begin to elucidate the mere penciled sketch of Eve's. (3)


"When do I go to work for Uncle Sam?"

Although Notorious explicitly announces its postwar setting by informing us that its story begins on "April the Twenty-Fourth, Nineteen Hundred and Forty-Six," the action of the film seems more accurately to reflect the scenario faced by American women during the course of the war--namely, Uncle Sam's invitation to join the workforce as a means of fulfilling their patriotic duty. Devlin, of course, uses precisely this word to entice Alicia into the (post)war effort; when she angrily asks why she should bother to help, he coolly and somewhat cynically replies, "Patriotism." But, as much as Alicia pretends to be unmoved by this appeal to her sense of duty ("I don't go for patriotism--or patriots"), it is only a matter of minutes before we see her wholly giving in to the nationalist guilt trip that Devlin has laid upon her. In fact, taking Uncle Sam up on his job offer seems to do wonders for Alicia's self-esteem. As soon as she arrives in her assigned point-country, Brazil, she cuts back on her "notoriously" excessive drinking and even begins to smile (uncynically) for the first time in the film. Her entire demeanor smacks of empowerment, as is seen in the first conversation between Alicia and Devlin in Brazil. She begins, "I wonder if at the Embassy somebody could get me a maid. It's a nice apartment, and I don't mind dusting and sweeping, but I hate cooking." When Devlin dutifully responds, "I'll ask them," Alicia appears to relish his newly subservient mode and continues to exploit it by adding, "And while you're at it, find out when I go to work, and doing what"--to which Devlin hastily replies, "Yes, ma'am."

This exchange is important for several reasons. On one hand, it demonstrates a clear shift in gender roles, as the once superior Devlin is relegated to the role of yes-man. It is, in the words of Richard Abel, the point in the "perverted" fairy tale when "the hero is reduced to functioning as the heroine's helper" (162). But it also highlights the fact that Alicia's pride in her work arrives before she has learned what work will she be doing--an unfortunate oversight on her part. Interestingly, Alicia's delight in freeing herself at least partially from the sphere of domestic duty is soon undermined when, only two short scenes later, we see her volunteering to cook a "chicken in the icebox" for Devlin, thus embracing the very domesticity that she had seemed so adamantly to reject. In fact, Alicia appears to be even happier in the make-believe role of loving wife than she had been in the promised role of working woman: "Marriage must be wonderful with this sort of thing going on every day," she croons. But while Alicia is busy cooking away in the kitchen (albeit not very skillfully: her chicken does, after all, catch on fire), Devlin is busy learning of the lurid and demeaning nature of her job assignment. For Alicia is called upon not to be Rosie the Riveter, but rather, as she puts it when she hears about the job, to be "Mata Hari: She makes love for the papers."

Although Eve Kendall is approached to perform a similar service for the American government, her situation is different from Alicia's inasmuch as her job offer comes after sex and even love have already entered into the equation. As she explains to Roger toward the end of North by Northwest, "I met Phillip Vandamm at a party one night and saw only his charm ... I guess I had nothing to do that weekend, so I decided to fall in love." But Eve's authentic sexual and romantic feelings for Vandamm (James Mason) are--allegedly, at least--eradicated when the Professor and his cohorts reveal to her "a few sordid details" about her lover's political activities. It is at this point that the Professor, as Uncle Sam incarnate, invites Eve to become a Cold War Mata Hari. Eve immediately accepts, for a reason that could just as easily have been pronounced by Alicia: "Maybe it was the first time anyone ever asked me to do anything worthwhile." Of course, the irony of this assertion is surely not meant to escape our notice; as Richard Millington correctly points out, "what Eve is offered as a moralized career ... is a role as a 'tramp'" (140). The very process, then, of turning Eve's relationship with Vandamm into her "job"--of turning her self-interested play into socially constructive work--requires Eve, like Alicia, to immobilize her body as a private commodity and to mobilize it as corporate, political commodity. That is her patriotism.

The fact that Eve and Alicia's sense of empowerment upon being recruited into the intelligence fold is severely tempered by the sexual nature of the work each woman is asked to perform reflects the gender politics that governed Hollywood content at the times both films were made. According to Thomas Doherty, in his study of wartime and postwar cinema, Projections of War:
   To reconcile feminist aspirations and chauvinist shibboleths, the
   gender-specific genre work called for dexterous manhandling. So
   potentially discombobulating were the new projections that
   women-minded wartime cinema made certain to channel and constrain
   whatever revolutionary spirit it unleashed. (155)

To avoid gender "discombobulation" in films that were feared to be too "women-minded," Hollywood films balanced any potentially liberating messages with equally deflating ones--meaning that if Alicia or Eve is to be trusted with an important, top-secret government job--to be let inside the "all-male club" of war (149)--that job must also constrain the woman's ambition by "manhandling" her body.

"Like some people use a fly swatter"

And yet, as certain feminist critics have made clear, there are ways in which we may perceive the excessive sexuality of the femme fatale (and her political cousin, the Mata Hari figure) in a more empowering light. For, although the sexual tenor of Eve and Alicia's work does demean the woman on the most obvious level--here is a job that none of the male "suits in Washington" would ever stoop so low as to perform--it is also, as Modleski has pointed out, a type of work that is "extremely threatening to men because it involves women exploiting their sexuality to gain knowledge and power" (61). Hence, even after Alicia undertakes her sexual assignment, we continue to see hints of the gender role reversal that had begun when she and Devlin first arrived in Brazil--such as, for example, the dress code inversion that Richard Abel notices in the riding club scene, with "Alicia in hat and tie, Devlin hatless and tieless" (163). In North by Northwest, too, there are multiple references to the fact that Eve's successful espionage work, sexualized as it may be, makes Eve "matter" more to the U.S. government than Roger ever could. Indeed, a disgruntled Roger also points out the inequity of their undercover roles when they meet up in the woods after his fake shooting: "I guess it's off to hospital for me and back to danger for you. I don't like it a bit." This expression of concern for Eve's safety is neatly coupled with an expression of resentment.

Of course, Roger likes it even less when he is under the impression that Eve is a sexual operative working under Vandamm's employ. During this phase, Roger is bitter about his sexual manipulation by "that treacherous little tramp," as he calls her, and repeatedly discusses the threat that her sexuality poses to his own safety. At one point he "bets" that Eve would be able to "tease a man to death without half trying"; at another he wonders if Vandamm is going to murder him by "ask[ing] this female to kiss me again and poison me to death"; at yet another he denounces her for "using sex like some people use a fly swatter." Early in Notorious, Devlin describes the threatening allure of Alicia in similar, though more playful, terms:

Alicia: Go on. You can hold my hand. I won't blackmail you for it afterwards. Scared?

Devlin: I've always been scared of women. But I get over it.

Alicia: Now you're scared of yourself. You're afraid you'll fall in love with me.

Devlin: That wouldn't be hard.

Alicia: Oh now, careful, careful!

As lighthearted as this banter may sound, it hints at the very real problems that will stand in the way of Devlin and Alicia's romantic union: for the bulk of the film, he will be separated from her because he buys into the dangerous femme fatale label placed upon her as a result of her sexually promiscuous past.

But the fact that the characters played by Cary Grant are so quick to link female sexuality with male peril does not necessarily indicate that the films themselves subscribe to this misogynistic view. In both cases, the Cary Grant characters are at their least appealing, from the audience's perspective, when they are the most condemnatory--in Roger's case, during the brief time when he mistakenly believes Eve to be on Vandamm's side; in Devlin's case, throughout the majority of the film as he repeatedly and rather cruelly censures Alicia for her wanton ways. In other words, just because Devlin and Roger consider Alicia and Eve to be femmes fatales does not mean that Notorious and North by Northwest are directing their viewers toward the same conclusion. Julie Grossman makes a similar argument with respect to an entire film genre in her recent study Rethinking the Femme Fatale in Film Noir, insisting that the women of noir are not portrayed as the one-dimensional "bad girls" that most critics believe them to be but rather as three-dimensional human beings who are wrongly read as one-dimensional "bad girls" by the male characters who interact with them. Grossman begins her discussion by relating the basic plotline of Notorious, a film that she considers to be paradigmatic of the trend. To be sure, there is nothing one-dimensional about the performance of Ingrid Bergman; even at her most flirtatious or most inebriated, she comes across as a thinking, feeling, sympathetic woman with whom the audience is clearly meant to identify. I would argue that, although Eve receives less character development than does Alicia, Eva Marie Saint's own bravura performance in North by Northwest confutes any one-dimensional indictment of Eve as a "treacherous little tramp." Moreover, by allowing us, again and again, to see the pain or worry on Eve's face at moments when Roger cannot, Hitchcock subtly works to undermine Roger's femme fatale prejudices long before she is exonerated in Roger's eyes.


"Stop! Stop..."

To further destabilize the stereotype of dangerous female sexuality, Hitchcock imbues his "Mata Hari" films with a sense of the danger that can arise from male sexuality as well. After all, both Alicia's liaison with Devlin and Eve's liaison with Roger turn out to be, to a large extent, more "threatening" to the female participants than to the male. In Eve's case, becoming romantically involved with Roger literally puts her life at risk. As the Professor explains to him in front of Mount Rushmore, "If you hadn't made yourself so damnedly attractive to Miss Kendall that she fell for you ... our friend Vandamm wouldn't be losing faith in her loyalty now." Although Eve stashed Roger away in her train compartment at the behest of Vandamm, opting to be sexually intimate with her stowaway was clearly a choice that she made on her own. Roger may be somewhat joking when he asks the Professor, "Are you trying to tell me that I'm irresistible?" But the truth is that Eve's inability to "resist" him is precisely what, as the Professor tells us, has "put her in an extremely dangerous situation." For Hitchcock, a man's sexual nature can be fatal, too.

With Alicia, the dalliance with Devlin occurs before her relationship with Alex has begun, but her sexual attraction to Devlin continues to torment her throughout the course of the film and ultimately results in endangering her life as well. This tension culminates in the famous kiss scene at the party, in which Devlin and Alicia "pretend" to kiss in order to conceal their real reason for being in the cellar together (to search Alex's wine bottles). Slavoj Zizek accurately notes the irony of this scene when he remarks that "they succeed in deceiving the husband (for the time being, at least), but what they offer him as a lure is truth itself" (73). But, although the "truth" that Zizek identifies here is certainly the existence of a couple "in love," the truth portrayed in the kiss scene is, more precisely, the persistent danger of Devlin's attractiveness to Alicia. For it is Alicia who becomes immediately emotionally invested in the "pretend" kiss, causing her passionately to murmur "Oh, Dev, Dev" when she should be worrying about Alex's approaching footsteps. And it is also Alicia who cannot quite bring herself to push Devlin away in time so that it will convincingly appear as if he has been forcing himself upon her. Indeed, Alex does not appear to buy for one moment Alicia's feeble assurance, "I couldn't help what happened; he's been drinking." Alex's recognition of this truth about Alicia's attraction to Devlin sets the stage for Alex to lay a trap for Alicia (who returns to his ring the wine-cellar key she had stolen), which in turn sets the stage for his conspiring with his mother to poison her.

The characters played by Cary Grant are, then, as sexualized (and as sexually threatening) as the characters played by Ingrid Bergman and Eva Marie Saint. Positioning Grant as the object of female lust momentarily puts him in the same boat as the objectified women: if Eve and Alicia are shown to be treated at times like pieces of meat, so too are Roger and Devlin. In Notorious, this parallel is most evident when Alicia first meets Devlin at her party in Miami: her initial interaction with him consists of her calling him "handsome" and plying him with more and more alcohol. Indeed, his handsomeness seems to be the very qualification that lands him the "job" of enticing Alicia into the war effort; in much the same way that the CIA will later dangle Alicia as bait in front of Alex, here the agency dangles Devlin as bait for Alicia. Although we are shown only the back of Devlin's "handsome" head throughout this exchange, Alicia's continual, hungry glances at him tell us all we need to know about the allure of his front.


In North by Northwest, during her banter with Roger on the train, Eve repeatedly refers to the "nice face" he has. In fact, she tells him that her attraction to his face is the reason she isn't ratting him out to the police. Later, Roger uses Eve's tiny razor in the bathroom of the Chicago train station, having lathered up not only to hide from the police but also, given the explicit power his face has just exerted over a woman helping him escape arrest, to preserve the sexual commodity that is arresting his abettor.

But it is the humorous hospital scene of North by Northwest that best depicts the subject/object reversal in question. In it, Roger sneaks through a female patient's hospital room in order to escape from the room next door, in which the Professor has been holding him captive. The female patient is young, attractive, blonde, and wearing a pink nightie--all of which would usually make her the object of a male gaze of desire. In fact, she seems to assume that Roger is a sexual predator who has invaded her room for the purpose of attacking her; to defend herself, she yells out "Stop!" But then she puts on her glasses. In "Film and the Masquerade," Mary Ann Doane describes the way in which the prop of glasses is typically used to depict female sexuality in classical Hollywood film: "The woman with glasses signifies simultaneously intellectuality and undesirability; but the moment she removes her glasses (a moment which, it seems, must always be shown and which itself is linked with a certain sensual quality), she is transformed into spectacle, the very picture of desire" (27). What Hitchcock does, instead, is to show the sexualized woman putting on her glasses and consequently being transformed into spectator, the very picture of desirousness. From the moment that she clearly sees her would-be predator, the nameless blonde in the hospital room switches from defense to offense, murmuring wistfully, breathlessly, lustfully, "Stop.... "


But even if, by dint of setting up Roger or Devlin to be ogled by the leading woman, Hitchcock is drawing our attention to the commodification of male sexuality, the plots of both Notorious and North by Northwest position it mainly as threat; ultimately it is the woman's body that will be bought and sold in practice. The relationship between Eve and Roger might start out with Eve as the aggressor, but this initial purchaser of the commodity (she tips the waiter five dollars to seat Roger with her on the train) is finally maneuvered into consumable object. We know that Eve will be exonerated from Roger's accusation--"I'll bet you paid plenty for this little piece of sculpture," Roger hisses at Vandamm; "she's worth every dollar of it, take it from me"--but it must be Eve's body, not Roger's, that is taken, exploited, in service to country. As the environment of war (hot or cold) suggests in these films, a man sacrifices his body in the battlefield; a woman, in the bed. In Notorious, Alicia initially perceives herself as powerful working woman (fully accessorized with Devlin as her man Friday), but the appearance is soon shattered by Devlin's lack of faith in her and constant insinuations about her cheapness. Both Eve and Alicia are subjected to the lowest form of sexual degradation because theirs is physical, not merely verbal or visual or circumstantial. The degradation is in the plot, enforced to the point that their bodies soon become undesirable sexual commodities: used goods open to derision. Ultimately, then, even though Eve and Alicia's affairs with "the Cary Grant character" stem in part from active, even aggressive female sexual desire, thus momentarily reversing the gender dynamic, the narrative itself protects Roger and Devlin from genuine exploitation.

"I don't like the games you play, Professor"

Hitchcock offers one significant counterpoint, however, to this merger between plot and masculine desire. The endings of Notorious and North by Northwest are generally perceived to be conservative and compulsorily heterosexual in nature, "limit[ing] the scope of female agency" by resorting to "the conventional, concluding, fairy-tale rescue that Hitchcock's English films by and large avoid" (Allen 90). While I would agree that the final moments of the films do conform to cultural stereotypes in that they allow Devlin and Roger to heroically rescue their respective damsels in distress--Devlin by lowering Alicia down the staircases of Alex's treacherous home, Roger by pulling Eve up off the cliffs of Mount Rushmore--it is important to note that the men act heroically only when they begin to work against the exploitative governmental agencies that are responsible for endangering the lives of the women they love. This political detachment of the hero is more obviously true in the case of Roger, who disavows the U.S. government's agenda: "I don't like the games you play, Professor ... If you fellows can't lick the Vandamms of this world without asking girls like her to bed down with them and fly away with them and probably never come back, perhaps you ought to start learning how to lose a few Cold Wars." Devlin also subtly shifts his loyalties in the concluding scene of Notorious. Although he seeks and is granted official permission to check on Alicia at Alex's house after he begins to suspect that she is ill, Devlin's boss specifically warns him not to "mess things up" or "take any chances" when it comes to blowing Alicia's cover. Upon hearing from Alex's butler that Alicia is confined to her bed, however, Devlin unhesitatingly chooses Alicia's safety over the safety of his department's undercover operations and heads upstairs to extract her from harm. If she cannot escape the gender plotting of the narrative, Alicia can, by Devlin's own political disavowal, escape the plotting of her villainous husband.


In his book In the Name of National Security, Robert Corber reads Roger's rebellion against the authority of Central Intelligence as a step toward heteronormativity, arguing that it becomes "more important for him at this point in the film to rescue Eve from Vandamm than to follow the Professor's instructions" because doing so will "return [him] to the private sphere where he can assume the role of breadwinner, a role that was considered crucial to maintaining the stability of postwar American society and that he has resisted throughout the film" (201). But this reading underplays the seriousness of refusing to cooperate with one's government, particularly during the Cold War era in which North by Northwest was made. The fact that the film is structured in such a way that its protagonist can only become a good husband/father/breadwinner by repudiating his allegiance to Uncle Sam is, in my opinion, no accident. Nor is it an accident that Notorious teases us with the image of Alicia and Devlin's happily-wedded life ("Marriage must be wonderful with this sort of thing going on every day") just before Uncle Sam pulls the rug out from under their courtship by hiring Alicia as his next Mata Hari. Founding the heroic sacrifice of the man on a perilous detachment from his government, though perhaps too faint in its structural consequence, nonetheless counters the narrative in which that government pimps a woman to answer the ambitions of her loyalty. A visual anticipation of this narrative disruption can be seen during the "longest kiss in screen history," when Devlin must pull his lips away from Alicia's--almost as reluctantly as Alicia must later pull her lips away from Devlin's at the wine cellar--in order to call in and check his messages, one of which contains the news that Alicia's Mata Hari assignment is awaiting her.

With Notorious and North by Northwest, in which exploitation of the female body represents at first a means and then a perverse obstacle to romance and heroism, Hitchcock is able to elicit anti-establishment sympathies from his audience even while conforming to the heteronormative requirements of classical Hollywood cinema.

Works Cited

Abel, Richard. "Notorious: Perversion par Excellence." Hitchcock in Hollywood. Ed. Joel Finler. New York: Continuum, 1992.

Allen, Richard. Hitchcock's Romantic Irony. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. Beebe, John. "The Notorious Postwar Psyche." Journal of Popular Film and Television 18.1 (1990): 28-35.

Bellour, Raymond. The Analysis of Film. Bloomington and Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2000.

Bentley, Toni. Sisters of Salome. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002.

Cohen, Steven. "The Spy in the Gray Flannel Suit." Masked Men: Masculinity and the Movies of the Fifties. Bloomington and Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1997.

Corber, Robert J. In the Name of National Security: Hitchcock, Homophobia, and the Political Construction of Gender in Postwar America. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1993.

Doane, Mary Anne. Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis. New York and London: Routledge, 1991.

Doherty, Thomas. Projections of War: Hollywood, American Culture, and World War II. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993.

Edelman, Lee. "Piss Elegant: Freud, Hitchcock, and the Micturating Penis" GLQ 2 (1995): 149-177.

Grossman, Julie. Rethinking the Femme Fatale in Film Noir: Ready for her Close-up. New York and London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Millington, Richard. "Hitchcock and American Character: The Comedy of Self-Construction in North by Northwest." Hitchcock's America. Eds. Jonathan Freedman and Richard Millington. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Modleski, Tania. The Women Who Knew Too Much: Hitchcock and Feminist Theory. New York: Methuen, 1988.

Morris, Christopher. The Hanging Figure: On Suspense and the Films of Alfred Hitchcock. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.

North by Northwest. DVD. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1959. Burbank: Warner Home Video, 2009.

Notorious. DVD. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 1946. New York: Criterion Collection, 2001.

Proctor, Tammy M. Female Intelligence: Women and Espionage in the First World War. New York: New York University Press, 2003.

Renov, Michael. "From Identification to Ideology: The Male System of Hitchcock's Notorious." Wide Angle 4.1 (1980): 30-37.

Truffaut, Francois. Hitchcock. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1967.

Wheelright, Julie. The Fatal Lover: Mata Hari and the Myth of Women in Espionage. London: Collins & Brown, 1992.

White, Rosie. "'You'll Be the Death of Me': Mata Hari and the Myth of the Femme Fatale." In The Femme Fatale: Images, Histories, Contexts. Eds. Helen Hanson and Catherine O'Rawe. New York and London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Zizek, Slavoj. Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture. Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 1991.

Nora Gilbert

University of Southern California

(1) This label can be traced back to the final remarks made by prosecutor Andre Mornet at Mata Hari's war trial, "The evil that this woman has done is unbelievable. This is perhaps the greatest woman spy of the century" (qtd. in Wheeler, 84).

(2) See, for example, the work of Doane, Wheelright, or White.

(3) I am not the first to use an analysis of Notorious as a means of better understanding North by Northwest. Robert J. Corber performs a similar comparative exploration in In the Name of National Security: Hitchcock, Homophobia, and the Political Construction of Gender in Postwar America, though his goal in so doing is to clarify Roger's position with respect to sexual politics rather than Eve's. "Whereas North by Northwest focuses on the construction of male heterosexual subjectivity in relation to the discourses of national security," he argues, "Notorious focuses on the construction of female heterosexual activity." (Corber, 202).
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Title Annotation:Alfred Hitchcock's Notorious and North by Northwest
Author:Gilbert, Nora
Publication:Film & History
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2011
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