Paul Newman and Julie Andrews star in what must unfortunately be called one of Alfred Hitchcock's lesser efforts. Still, sub-par Hitchcock is better than a lot of what's out there, and this one is well worth a look. Newman... more » plays cold war physicist Michael Armstrong, while Andrews plays his lovely assistant-and-fiancée, Sarah Sherman. Armstrong has been working on a missile defense system that will "make nuclear defense obsolete," and naturally both sides are very interested. All Sarah cares about is the fact that Michael has been acting awfully fishy lately. The suspense of Torn Curtain is by nature not as thrilling as that in the average Hitchcock film--much of it involves sitting still and wondering if the bad guys are getting closer. Still, Hitchcock manages to amuse himself: there is some beautifully clever camera work and an excruciating sequence that illustrates the frequent Hitchcock point that death is not a tidy business. --Ali Davis« less
Byron Kolln | the corner where Broadway meets Hollywood | 07/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
One of Hitchcock's Greatest Villains-- GROMEK
Byron Kolln | 11/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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.HERE'S AN IDEA FOR A DVD RE-RELEASE...WHY NOT PUT OUT A VERSION OF THIS FILM WITH THE OPTION OF LISTENING TO BERNARD HERRMANN'S ORIGINAL SCORE?!?!? IF YOU LIKE THIS IDEA, SEND A MESSAGE BY VOTING THIS REVIEW 'HELPFUL.'"
Paul Newman and Julie Andrews in an interesting combination
Simon Davis | 05/17/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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 Andrews...at 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."
A Highly Underated Hitchcock Classic
Paul | New Jersey, The United States of America | 09/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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!"
An Exciting Cold War Drama!
classicmoviefan | Rancho Mirage, CA | 07/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."