Sunday Watch – Notorious Kissing scene

Notorious Kissing Scene
Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Notorious (1946)

The film industry and other movie enthusiasts in India were in for some positive news on the first day of the year, when it was decided by the government that the the censor board will be revamped based on the report of the new committee headed by Shyam Benegal. Let’s hope that something fruitful comes out of this development.

Many believe the government has taken this step after the outrage over culling of the kissing scene in Spectre as the censor board found it to be too long. The double standards of the censor board were obvious as they seem to have no issue with the crass trailers of Kya Kool Hai Hum 3 and Mastizaade.

Now, it is interesting to note that there was a similar ban on kisses longer than three seconds in Hollywood imposed by the Motion Picture Production Code in the 1930s and 1940s. The imposition of the code began to weaken in the 1950s due to the impact of television, foreign films and intervention from the Supreme Court. However, some directors still managed to devise kissing scenes that followed the code and still ended up being erotic.

Hitchcock, Alfred
Alfred Hitchcock

The most popular of such scenes is the one from Hitchcock’s Notorious, widely considered to be one of the best of the master’s many films. With code being strictly imposed, Hitchcock designed a long one take scene that had the lead actors Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman alternate between dialogue and kissing such that no kiss broke the limit prescribed by the code. The camera follows them closely as they move around the house never leaving each other’s arms. It is a beautiful and sensuous scene which might not have been shot the same way had the code not been there. Adversity reveals genius, and this scene is indeed a fine example of it. Take a look –


The actors, however, did not really enjoy filming the scene which was later publicised as the ‘longest kissing scene in history’, back in 1946. Also, Hitchcock was inspired from a rather unlikely and amusing source – a couple, he saw in France, who would not let each other go, in spite of the man urinating against a wall. In this video, Hitchcock tells Francois Truffaut (who has famously analysed Hitchcock’s filmmaking in his book called ‘Hitchcock’) how the scene was shot and the inspiration for it too :

This romantic scene, thus, is indeed an odd inclusion in the numerous other scenes that the master of suspense is celebrated for.



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