Customer Reviews: Torn Curtain
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HALL OF FAMEon July 22, 2002
TORN CURTAIN was a film which Hitchcock never wanted to make; he still owed Universal one more film under his contract and was waiting for the right story to come along. At Universal's insistence, he made this under-valued Cold War thriller.
Michael Armstrong (Paul Newman - CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF) is a world-famous scientist to goes to an international congress in Copenhagen with his fiancee/assistant Sarah Sherman (Julie Andrews - STAR!, DARLING LILI). While there, Sarah mistakenly picks up a message meant for him and discovers that he is defecting to East Germany. Or is he? As Armstrong goes undercover to glean top-secret information, the couple are swept up in a heart-pounding chase to escape with their lives....
Hitchcock reportedly hated working with Newman and Andrews (he did not personally cast them, they were assigned to the film by the studio). The music was provided by John Addison, although Hitchcock veteran Bernard Herrmann was originally going to provide the score.
However, the film does have some very good scenes: the bus ride, the post office, the climactic MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH-esque ballet sequence and the fight in the cottage.
Also starring Lila Kedrova, Tamara Toumanova, Ludwig Donath and David Opatoshu.
The DVD includes the making-of documentary "Torn Curtain Rising", a condensed version of the film with Bernard Herrmann's original score, an art gallery and the trailer.
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on November 21, 2001
I absolutely loved Gromek, the German agent in this film. One of the most likable villains Hitchcock ever put to film, he throws about 'Americanisms' in wonderfully broken English while smacking on a piece of gum. Very sinister and funny at the same time, and the scene of his death definitely belongs in the Hitchcock highlight reel.
Unfortunately, as in "Psycho," this most interesting character is killed within the first half of the movie, and the rest lags afterwards. Really, really a shame...he's far more interesting than Paul Newman's character.
If I were to rank this among Hitch's other later films, I'd say it's better than "Topaz" or "Marnie," but not as good as "Frenzy." 5 Stars, however, because nobody can touch Hitchcock.
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on May 16, 2002
I really dont understand why this great little film which contains a superbly tense story and edge of the seat suspense is always dismissed as a disappointment.
On the contrary it has always been a favourite Hitchcock film of mine, certainly not up to the standards of the classic "Rebecca" or even "North by Northwest', but still a tense piece of film making.
It was Hichcock's 50th film and certainly was one of the last truly good films he directed in his illustrious career. His superb knack for creating suspence and tension is evident from the first frame and makes for a terrific piece of film making. Once the story gets going the pace and suspence never lets up as the main characters move from Norway to Copenhagen to East Berlin behind the Iron Curtain, hence the title. I feel Paul Newman and Julie first thought not an expected combination, work extremely well together and come across as a believable combination. Julie Andrews certainly doesn't have as flashy a role in "Torn Curtain" as she does in "The Sound of Music" "Thoroughly Modern Millie" or "Star" but she nevertheless handles her role of Sarah Sherman, personal secretary to the brilliant rocket scientist Professor Michael Armstrong (Newman),in a most interesting manner. Julie is always such an attractive performer and in "Torn Curtain" she gives her all in what is essentially a difficult role and one fraught with lots of unpredictable situations.
The story line of Paul Newman's character pretending to defect to East Germany to obtain valuable information on a new secret formula from a scientist in Leipzeig might appear dated now but it makes for a very clever and fast moving story. Newman's character pretends to go over to the Eastern Bloc only to discover that Andrews has followed him out of not only love but to see what he is actually up to. Their time in East Berlin is action packed and colorful to say the least as they encounter "personal guides" such as the infamous Gromek, the sweaty, gum chewing villian of the piece who ends up being murdered in one of the most memorable and painstaking murder sequences of Alfred Hitchcock's career aside from the shower sequence in "Psycho". It is a totally awe inspiring moment and while I dont like violence for violence sake this sequence is magnificently done, with no dialogue, and is easily, along with the nail biting bus chase, the most memorable part of the film and indeed in Hitchcock's career.
Hitchcock not only keeps the action moving at a break neck pace but he also populates his story with many interesting characters along the way as Newman and Andrews plan their escape from East Germany when they are exposed. One memorable character is the Polish Countess Kuchinska played by actress Lila Kedrova, who only wants a sponsor to be able to get to the United States. Her's is a tragic and thought provoking interlude in the main characters race to beat the German authorities over the border. Equally memorable is Check ballet dancer Tamara Toumanova who reappears a few times in the story and is almost responsible for intercepting the main characters escape. She is excellent in what is essentially a small but stand out part.
The overraul look of the film benefits from the many beautiful European locations utilised during filming and although East Berlin was impossible to film in circa 1966, an excellent use of similiar locations has been incorporated to give the effect of the dull and uninteresting Eastern Bloc existence.
As a piece of entertainment dealing with the Cold War "Torn Curtain" is first rate and never fails to be a great piece of viewing entertainment with two terrific performers in Paul Newman and Julie Andrews in the leads.
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on July 9, 2004
Amazon's own reviewer says this is one of Hitchcock's "lesser efforts"... I disagree. There are some amazing scenes in this film, gorgeous cinematography, stunning action scenes, a great chase and tension everywhere. This is not "North by Northwest" or "Vertigo".... but it is just as exciting, if not more so than "The Man Who Knew Too Much", "39 Steps" and "Rear Window". Julie Andrews is stunning and superb as the wife who does not know who her husband seems to be working for. Paul Newman is perfectly cast as the mysterious and secretive husband... and the supporting cast is incredible.... especially Wolfgang Kieling was "Gromek", the relentless and sadistic kidnapper. Real life ballerina Tamara Toumanova who dances beautifully, but who comes complete with an "evil eye" on things. Lila Kedrova whos words "Will you be my sponsor?" will haunt you long after the movie ends.... and Carolyn Conwell, who is amazing along with Paul Newman's character in the farm scene! Wow!! The DVD transfer is superb and this film is a sure winner all the way.
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on March 2, 2016
There is no doubt my all time favorite movie director is the master of suspense himself Alfred Hitchcock. He has had a string of classic hit movie spanning from the silent movie era to the mid 1970s. You could easily go on and on naming one great hit after another Hitch made during his career. One film of his that for some reason was never as popular with Hitchcock fans but has always been among my favorites of his is "Torn Curtain". Released in 1966 it had two of Hollywood's biggest actors of that time, Paul Newman and Julie Andrews, star in it. Made during the height of the cold war it was the kind of suspense thriller that Hitchcock was well known for. Especially with movies he had made in the 1940s and 50s. But fans were not as fond of this production as with past movies. One of the problems I think with that was it was made after Hitchcock had made two movies that would become huge hit with film goers, "Psycho" and "The Birds". These two films created a whole new generation of fans who were not familiar with the earlier movies Hitchcock had made and/or were not fans of suspense. As a result this movie because it didn't do as well at the box office as the two previously mentioned movies a lot of people assume this wasn't one of Hitch's better productions. Not true and if you think that without having seen "Torn Curtain" before then you need to see it. I believe it will change any perceptions you may have formed about this very good movie.

In a nutshell Newman plays a scientist who is suppose to be defecting to East Germany to work with one of the top German scientists there. Supposedly Newman's character has information that combined with the German's work could stop bombs from exploding. The United States would not fund his project and that is why Newman is looking to go to the other side. It is not true however. Newman is trying to get a look at this German scientists work to learn what he has developed and bring the information back to the west. If he is caught it could mean certain death for Newman. Complicating things is that his girlfriend, played by Andrews, tags along on his trip to Europe with no knowledge of what Newman is trying to do or of his so called defection. What happens from there makes this suspense movie all the more suspenseful.

Hitchcock, Newman and Andrews were all in top form in the making of this film. Hitch of course with his directing and Newman and Andrews with their acting. Interestingly enough this was a movie Hitchcock did not want to make nor even after being talked in to making "Torn Curtain" didn't want either of the two main stars to appear in it. Despite all the disinterest and disagreements in the end a classic was made that all three would be proud of having made. The DVD of this movie is well worth spending the money to add to your movie collection. Just approach it with an open mind. Yeah it may not be on the same level as "Psycho" or "The Birds" or even earlier hits like "North By Northwest" or "Rear Window". But this is still a Hitchcock movie that can hold its own in thrills and suspense.
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on July 6, 2015
Why some people don't like this movie is beyond me; it's certainly better and more understandable than Topaz. Paul Newman is on a mission behind the Iron Curtain, and his wife follows him to find out why he wants to be there. This is a great story with a lot of tense situations; a great Cold War drama from beginning to end. Newman and Andrews are capable and likable in their roles. I recommend watching it.
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on September 24, 2000
This is one of Hitchcock's last truely great films. Is Paul Newman really defecting to East Berlin, or is he a double agent?His secretary, and fiancee, Julie Andrews (shedding her Mary Poppins image) tries to find out. The bus scene is classic Hitchcock, and the murder of the German agent is one of the best scenes ever filmed. I also love the scene when Paul and Julie are at the ballet.
This film has all of Hitchcock's trademarks, suspence, comedy, love, and, of course, his cameo appearence. This can not be missed by a true Hitchcock fan.
Watch it at least twice to really appreciate it!
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on August 22, 2000
This was Alfred Hithcock's 50th motion picture. This film marked a departure from his most recent bulk of films at that time, not in directorial style, but in the absence of many of his close-knit artistic-technical company he had been utilizing. Distinctively missing is collaborator-composer Bernard Herrmann. However, John Addison does a commendable job in Herrmann's absence, as his score seems to fit this film very well with the passage of time.
This was a cold war drama set behind the Iron Curtain. The hero of the story as portrayed by Paul Newman is motivated less by personal staunchness for democratic idealism, but rather by his inner confrontation coming to grips with his own failure as a scientist.
This very suspenseful film is really about his own redemption for his perceived failure. This film is has been highly underrated.
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on May 13, 2012
Another brilliant Alfred Hitchcock movie! The only reason for four stars instead of five was that I couldn't help comparing it to Hitchcock's best. It's good, but it's not his best.

Dr. Michael Armstrong (Paul Newman) is a physicist attending a conference in Copenhagen and his assistant and fiancee, Dr. Sarah Sherman (Julie Andrews), has come along despite his reluctance to bring her. We soon learn why he didn't want her to come along: he tells her he has to go to another city (don't remember what it was, but somewhere in the West), but actually heads for East Berlin. She finds out where he's going accidentally, and follows him.

Complicated? Of course it's complicated. They are greeted in East Berlin by a gaggle of reporters and photographers eager to see the defecting American scientist.

Defecting? Sarah is aghast, and does not know what to make of it all. But of course the authorities want her to go home, and she does not want to leave without Michael. Reluctantly, she agrees to stay.

No, I haven't told you too much. All this, and a good bit more, happens in the first 15 or 20 minutes of the movie. I could not help sympathizing with Sarah's sorrow and confusion, but ultimately I understand that a woman, even a beautiful woman, would be very reluctant to let Paul Newman (young and at his peak) get away from her.

Hitchcock's cameo is a cute one. He's in a posh hotel lobby with a little girl on his lap. He picks her up and transfers her to his other knee, and wipes off the leg she had been sitting on, as if it was wet.
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on May 10, 2013
Have watched this movie several times and still enjoy it. It is probably true that some of the scientists should leave that sort of thing to the trained professionals in the business. It was imminent that there were going to be some mistakes made. Many do not feel that this was one of Hitchcock's best but it is one of the best for entertainment. The scenes in Copenhagen were lovely, too, as was Ms. Andrews' wardrobe.
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