Plot points are linear links that make up the chain of traditional Aristotelian 3-act dramatic structure. This classic structure worked well in Hollywood for almost a century now. Although young movie makers are forcing the limits of this structure, plot points still rule the day as the “tent poles” that hold up of the circus of our dreams. Here are the plot points of Hitchcock’s great and often underrated classic, Notorious (1946), as I see them.
Starring: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Louis Calhern, Reinhold Schunzel
Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock
Writers: Ben Hecht (Screenwriter)
ESTABLISHING SHOT: Miami Courtroom. Journalists waiting outside.
INCITING INCIDENT: German spy Huberman is sentenced to 20 years in jail.
PLOT POINT 1: CIA agent T. R. Devlin proposes Alicia Huberman, the daughter of traitor Huberman, to spy for USA by going down to Rio, Brazil for an unspecified mission. Devlin is counting on Alicia’s patriotism and her disagreement with her father’s vocation.
MID POINT EVENT: Alicia, although in love with Devlin, agrees to marry Sebastian, the local aristocratic contact for the German spy ring in Brazil and her father’s old friend, in order to to report as an insider about the things going on around Sebastian.
PLOT POINT 2: Sebastian finds that Alicia and Devlin have been to the wine cellar where “uranium sand” was hidden in wine bottles for a secret German project.
3rd ACT RESOLUTION: Devlin finds the poisoned Alicia in her Sebastian mansion bedroom. Devlin eats his pride and admits he loves her, and runs away with her leaving Sebastian to the mercy of his German collaborators who had punished a similar case of “incompetence” with death.