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Torn Curtain (1966)

 -  Thriller  -  July 1966 (UK)
6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 15,541 users  
Reviews: 123 user | 58 critic

An American scientist publicly defects to East Germany as part of a cloak and dagger mission to find the solution for a formula resin and then figuring out a plan to escape back to the West.

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Title: Torn Curtain (1966)

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Hansjörg Felmy ...
Heinrich Gerhard (as Hansjoerg Felmy)
...
Wolfgang Kieling ...
Ludwig Donath ...
Günter Strack ...
David Opatoshu ...
Gisela Fischer ...
Mort Mills ...
Carolyn Conwell ...
Arthur Gould-Porter ...
Gloria Gorvin ...
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Storyline

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It tears you apart with suspense! See more »

Genres:

Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

July 1966 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Cortina rasgada  »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In Norman Lloyd/Steve Smith 1996 Interview, Norman Lloyd revealed that he was there during the break-up of Alfred Hitchcock/Bernard Herrmann partnership. In the interview, Norman Lloyd provided this information on the breakup of Hitchcock/Herrmann partnership - There was great pressure on Hitchcock not to hire Bernard Herrmann. That pressure came from the front office at Universal, most notably from their music department. The reason given was that Bernard Herrmann couldn't write a hit song. Universal was talking about getting Henry Mancini for "Torn Curtain." But Hitchcock decided to go with Herrmann on Torn Curtain. But Hitchcock was determined because of the pressure to lay out very specifically to Herrmann what he wanted in the score. Bernard Herrmann wrote the score after receiving this directives. When Hitchcock listening to the recording of the score, Hitchcock said, in effect, "I don't want to hear another note. This is not what I asked for in the cable. This is a complete violation of my requests." He walked off the stage, had the orchestra dismissed, canceled the next day, and never heard another note of the score. Bernard Herrmann tried to get to see Alfred Hitchcock. But Hitchcock wouldn't see him. He felt that Benny had deliberately ignored his directive." Norman Lloyd also mentioned this to Steven Smith in the interview - "Hitch took the violation as a personal insult, because he had been so careful to lay out his instructions. Then you must also realize that he had hired Benny over the objections of the front office. So the whole situation contributed to Hitch's feeling that Benny had betrayed him." See more »

Goofs

The handwriting Professor Armstrong gives to the radio operator aboard ship and the note that he later writes to his fiancée is not the same - both handwriting samples clearly do not match. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Professor Karl Manfred: Are they ever going to get the heating fixed?
Norwegian crewman: They are working at it, Professor. Perhaps some of you scientists would like to give us a helping hand!
See more »


Soundtracks

The Emperor Waltz (Kaiserwalzer, Op. 437)
(1889) (uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauß
Played at the restaurant
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

less than Hitch's best
3 February 2001 | by (Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

The first time I watched "Torn Curtain," I grew bored and turned it off before it was over. I've watched it in its entirety more than once since then. It's difficult not to conclude that the master director's age was beginning to take its toll by 1966. It could have been a great film except for some major flaws.

First, the main characters. Newman and Andrews look distinctly ill-at-ease and their acting is wooden. There is very nearly no chemistry between them, and viewers are not really drawn into their somewhat implausible situation. Both actors are compelling in other films, but for some reason not in this one.

Second, Hitchcock would have done better to keep his villains' identity less specific. In "The Lady Vanishes", "The Thirty-nine Steps," and "North by Northwest," the identity of the foreign agents is left deliberately vague and thus little plausibility need be attached to their actions. Here they are East German communists, of which we know rather a lot.

Third, there are inconsistencies in the plot. At one point Newman and Andrews are forced to go out into an open space to avoid being overheard. But in another scene a pro-western spy communicates confidential information to Newman in a hospital room, seemingly oblivious to the possibility of wiretaps.

Finally, there's John Addison's score, which seems to have been written quite independently of the film's action. A suspenseful scene is inappropriately matched with cheerful, melodic music. Everyone knows, of course, that Hitch's longtime musical collaborator, Bernard Herrmann, wrote a mostly complete score for the film, but the two had a falling out on the set and Herrmann was dismissed. Another example of poor judgement on Hitchcock's part. Herrmann's score would have immeasurably improved a mediocre film. (Look at "Obsession" nearly a decade later.) With all the recent film restorations, I would love to see someone redo "Torn Curtain" and put in as much of Herrmann's score as the composer was able to finish. (But perhaps there would be copyright problems.) Had Herrmann's score been used, the murder sequence in the farmhouse might have become as famous as the shower scene in "Psycho."

As I was watching the protagonists flee through the East German landscape in their efforts to reach the west, I found myself thinking that, if they had only waited another twenty-three years, the wall would have come down anyway and they could simply have walked out! That's how much their plight gripped me.


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