A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people there in increasing numbers and with increasing viciousness.
Professor Michael Armstrong is heading to Stockholm to attend a physics conference accompanied by his assistant-fiancée Sarah Sherman. Once arrived however, Michael informs her that he may be staying for awhile and she should return home. She follows him and realizes he's actually heading to East Germany, behind the Iron Curtain. She follows him there and is shocked when he announces that he's defecting to the East after the US government canceled his research project. In fact, Michael is there to obtain information from a renowned East German scientist. Once the information is obtained, he and Sarah now have to make their way back to the West. Written by
Bernard Herrmann was able to record 9 cues for this film before Hitchcock fired him. Unfortunately, only 3 cues from original recording have been released on disc. Those 3 cues are Prelude, The Ship, and Radiogram. See more »
Gromek has difficulty getting his lighter to work, but after Gromek has been killed, Armstrong picks up the lighter and gets it to work perfectly. See more »
Professor Karl Manfred:
Are they ever going to get the heating fixed?
They are working at it, Professor. Perhaps some of you scientists would like to give us a helping hand!
See more »
Paul Newman nuclear physicist has volunteered for an unusual espionage mission. He's to fake a defection in order to get close to East German scientist Ludwig Donath and find out what advances he personally has given the Soviet bloc.
As he says to agent Mort Mills, he's one of the few people in the world who would know exactly what to look for. The trick is to make Donath write it down.
Nice plan, except for that fact that intrepid Julie Andrews, Newman's fiancé suspects something's up and follows him first to Copenhagen and then East Berlin. It would have run so much easier without her, but then again there would have been no film.
This was Alfred Hitchcock's last star vehicle. His last three films were done with second rank players. At the time this was made Julie Andrews was fresh from Mary Poppins and had all kinds of roles offered her. I suppose she couldn't turn down a chance to appear in a Hitchcock film, but she and Newman really have no chemistry at all. I suppose Newman also wanted to work with Hitchcock.
There are some good moments in Torn Curtain. The highlight easily has to be the killing of an East German security agent by Newman and Carolyn Conwell with the creative use of a gas stove. The agent is played by German actor Wolfgang Kieling and has the best role in the film. Funny how during World War II, Germans were sometimes shown as colossally stupid, Kieling is not. He's a very tough and shrewd adversary who catches on to Newman's scheme and has to be eliminated.
Hitchcock also stole from himself here. The ride and Newman and Andrews take on a bus from Leipzig to East Berlin that is stage managed by David Opatoshu is ripped off from Saboteur and the bus passengers are just like the circus people in Saboteur. Good, but done before.
Devoted fans of the stars and of Alfred Hitchcock will want to see Torn Curtain, others might want to for curiosity's sake.
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