A French intelligence agent becomes embroiled in the Cold War politics first with uncovering the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis, and then back to France to break up an international Russian spy ring.
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
Universal Studios' Stage 28, the Lon Chaney 1925 B&W feature film "Phantom of the Opera" interior European three tiered box seat horseshoe theatre and stage proscenium existed as a permanent studio stage standing set. In 2014, this is the oldest permanent standing set in Hollywood in existence. The Universal Studios' stage 28 "Phantom of the Opera" theatre interior set was also used in Alfred Hitchcock's 1966 feature film "The Torn Curtain." In 1965, the Paris Opera theatre interior set had fallen into disrepair, but Universal gave permission for Hitch to use it in the climax of his film. Hitch had his crew (including Joe Musso, a young budding illustrator) restore the theatre set back to the way the stage set was originally built for the 1925 Lon Chaney film. The original blueprints for the 1925 Chaney film no longer existed in 1964, but Joe Musso had a great 8"x10" photo collection from the Chaney film that showed the Paris Opera theater interior in great detail. Based on these archived B&W photos, the production designer, Hein Heckroth, art director, Frank Arrigo, and assistant art director, Joe Alves, had the set designers recreate new blueprints for the construction crew to restore the stage theatre set properly. Hitchcock had the original seats reupholstered and put back into the audience floor space, filling the theater floor and the European style horseshoe three tiered box gallery with 500 extras, along with Paul Newman and Julie Andrews. The set designers who worked on the film included John Corso, Burwell Hamrick, William "Bill" O'Brien. Mort Rabinowitz also worked on the film as an illustrator. Mort Rabinowitz became a production designer shortly after working on the Hitchcock feature film. Joe Musso did the set illustrations on the opera house in color and painted Hitchcock's film crew in the audience besides Newman, Julie and Hitch. Hitchcock kept Joe Musso's illustration as his private and personal souvenir. See more »
(at around 31 mins) During a scene in Berlin, a car parks on a zebra crossing. 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.
24 of 30 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?