Monday, June 17, 2013

Movie of the Week – Torn Curtain

This week’s movie: Torn Curtain (1966).

The thriller is about Michael Armstrong, an American scientist who publically defects to East Germany, much to the shock of girlfriend Sarah. She goes against his wishes and defects too. However, when it is safe, Michael reveals to her that he is really on a covert mission to learn a secret from an East German professor. The problem is how will he get them both safely back to the West when she was never part of the plan?

The film is directed by Alfred Hitchcock, who worked with a mostly new group of collaborators, including: composer John Addison (Bernard Herrmann originally wrote the score, but Universal Pictures convinced Hitchcock that he needed a more upbeat piece causing Hitchcock and Herrmann to have a major disagreement, and they never worked together again), cinematographer John Warren, and the great production designer Hein Heckroth (this was his last feature).

Paul Newman, who constantly fought with Hitchcock over creative differences regarding his performance and acting style, and Julie Andrews, who was just coming off her breakout hits Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, star. However, Hitchcock originally wanted Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint, but the studio felt that they were both too old.

Torn Curtain was a hit when it came out in 1966, fitting the Cold War hysteria of the times – it was one of Universal’s highest grossing films for the year – but has since been deemed as one of Hitchcock’s weaker films. Certainly, it is not among his best work, but it is still a great thriller and features some of his best scenes of suspense, particularly the scene in with Armstrong finds himself in trouble at the farm house (it is absolutely spellbindingly brilliant). It is a must-see for fans of Hitchcock’s work as it does feature many redeeming qualities.

Trailer: Here

Available on: Blu-ray and Streaming

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