For our “Reading A Movie” task, I wanted to watch Notorious, as the article How to Read a Movie sort of described a candid shot from there that made it sound good.  I have also heard people talk about this movie as a classic example of Noir, so I figured I would check it out.

This scene is one of the most prominent in the film, in my opinion.  This is the famous “exchange of the key” scene, as I have scene it called all over the internet on different blogs and such. A little background on the scene:

Devlin urged Alicia to talk Sebastian into throwing a party because it was killing him to know what was in Sebastian’s wine cellar.  He wanted her to do this so they could get their hands on the key to the cellar and break in.

Notorious 4

The scene begins at a party at Sebastian’s house.  There is some old, classical type jazz music playing in the black and white scene.  The camera starts high, at the top of staircase, and begins zooming in on Alicia’s hand.  Her hand is closed and she is clenching something.  She is standing and talking to Sebastian in this moment, and here is when she attains the key.  Her placement here in this situation is relevant because she is on the right side, and according to Roger Ebert, this is the positive side.  Meaning, to me, that Alicia succeeded in attaining the key.  Now, she was on the hunt for Dev to get it out of her hand as quickly as possible. As Dev walks in the party, he is on a mission.  When he spots Alicia, he goes straight for her.  Sebastian is on him, watching Alicia “like a hawk”, and comes right over JUST after the “Key Exchange”.  All aspects to this scene are relevant in my opinion, ranging from the dim lighting to the music.

Learning how to read a movie definitely helps me pick up some parts of movies that maybe I wouldn’t have before.  Hopefully, I won’t be too critical with this new-found knowledge on any movies I go see with friends.  That would just be annoying.

– CWalk





Written by Vinny D

I am 22 years old and a senior at the University of Mary Washington. I am in pursuit of a Bachelor's Degree in Leadership and Management. I graduated with an Associate's Degree in Business from Germanna before I started attending UMW. I love bodybuilding, any and all sports, my wife...
Read more


Brenda Levoy

Great job Cody. I like the scene you picked. This lesson helped me as well with figuring out the hidden meaning of the movie.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>