Torn Curtain
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Torn Curtain can be found here.

No. Torn Curtain is based on a screenplay by Irish novelist Brian Moore.

Yes. Director Alfred Hitchcock can be seen sitting in a hotel lobby holding a baby about eight minutes into the film.

The cover story is that Michael Armstrong (Paul Newman) had been working for six years on Gamma 5, an anti-missle program, when the U.S. government terminated the project because of people in high places who don't want to see atomic war abolished. Because he believes that continuing with this research is more important than the considerations of loyalty to any country, he has decided to offer his services and knowledge to Professor Gustav Lindt (Ludwig Donath) at the Karl Marx University in Leipzig. His true purpose is to get access to Lindt, the designer of the Soviet missle system, and to find out what Lindt knows before he leaves for Leningrad in a few days.

Pi is a letter from the Greek alphabet that is used to represent the mathematical ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, expressed numerically as 3.14. In the context of the movie, Pi is the escape network that Armstrong must use to get himself and his fiance, Sarah Sherman (Julie Andrews), out from behind the Iron Curtain.

No. Much of the movie was filmed on a Universal lot in Hollywood with some scenes and exterior shots taken in Denmark and West Germany. Even the sets for the Berlin Museum were comprised almost entirely of matte paintings by matte artist Albert Whitlock.

Armstrong needed to get the code name of his contact. Many viewers complain about the absurdity of that plan. His first day as a defector behind the Iron Curtain, and he is made to leave his hotel, take a bus, go into the Berlin Museum and out the back door, then take a taxi, and drive directly to the farmhouse where the two agents live, just to find out that his contact will be a university clinic physician named Dr. Koska (Gisela Fischer). On top of that, all the while he is en route, he doesn't notice that he's being followed by Hermann Gromek (Wolfgang Kieling), the Stasi officer assigned to follow him. Of course, Gromek discovers that the defection is fake, so Armstrong is then forced to kill Gromek, which sets up the impetus for the rest of the movie...getting Armstrong and Sarah out of East Germany.

Yes. He tricks Lindt into showing him the formula by writing the formula for Gamma 5 on the blackboard, but he does it incorrectly so that Lindt's ego drives him to make the corrections while Armstrong memorizes it.

The purpose of the Pi bus was to help Germans escape from the eastern bloc to the western bloc. Professor Armstrong had been on television in East Germany and was the subject of a massive search. His face would be well known and very hard to explain if they were stopped by a police search squad. Apparently, the police tend to shoot first and then ask questions.

Yes. That was Tamara Tumanova, known as "The Black Pearl of the Russian Ballet." Born in Russia, she and her mother defected and wound up in Paris where Tumanova studied ballet, eventually joining George Balanchine's Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo when she was just 13 years old.

The missing scene consisted of Michael and Sarah touring a factory. They are approached by a man who introduces himself as Gromek's brother (same actor in a white wig with a moustache). The brother cuts some sausages for them, using a big butcherknife, like the one that was used to kill Gromek. The brother tells them that Gromek had three children. Armstrong appears to be filled with guilt and angst. Why this scene was cut is unknown. Two possibilities are that it made Armstrong look like a bad guy or Kieling's makeup was so good that the viewing audience didn't realize he was supposed to be Gromek's brother. At any rate, the footage is presumed lost.

How does it end?

After Armstrong gets the formula out of Lindt, he and Sarah meet up with Dr Koska, who has set up a plan for their escape. First, they are to take a bus filled with Pi members from Leipzig to Berlin. Along the way they are stopped by roadblocks and bandits, eventually being escorted by the police, who believe this to be the regular bus on the Leipzig-Berlin route. They make it to Berlin and manage to get off the bus just as the police learn it was not the regular bus. Trying to find their way to their next contact, Albert at the Friedrichstrasse Post Office, they run into Countess Kuchinska (Lila Kedrova) who helps get them there in return for their promise to sponsor her in her attempts to go to America. Albert sends them on to their next contact at a Travel Agency. That contact tells them to go to the Czech Ballet that evening at 8pm and wait to be met by a man wearing a red wig. Unfortunately, Armstrong is recognized by the prima ballerina (she was on the airplane when he flew from Copenhagen to East Berlin), and she alerts security. As the security agents block the entrances and start coming down the aisles, Armstrong yells, "Fire!", and everyone in the German-speaking audience jumps up in panic. The surging crowd carries them to a back room where they meet the man in the red wig. He packs them into two costume baskets which are taken to the East German boat bound for Sweden that the balllet company is using. However, when they arrive at the Swedish dock and their baskets about to be lifted to the pier, that same ballerina suspects that the baskets are holding Armstrong and Sarah. She starts screaming, the East German police on board the boat open fire on the baskets. When they are opened, the baskets contain only costumes. Fortunately, the Pi agent unloading the baskets remembered that the "costume basket ruse" had been used before and had loaded those baskets to detract from the baskets that contained our heroes, who jump overboard in the commotion and swim to shore. In the final scene, Michael and Sarah are seated before a pot belly stove with a blanket around them.

Yes. In this other ending, Armstrong tosses away the formula. In the book Its Only a Movie: Alfred Hitchcock - A Personal Biography (2005), author Charlotte Chandler writes: "There was an ending written for 'Torn Curtain', Hitchcock said, 'which wasn't used, but I rather liked it. No one agreed with me except my colleague at home [his wife Alma]. Everyone told me that you couldn't have a letdown ending after all that. Newman would have thrown the formula away. After what he has gone through, after everything we have endured with him, he just tosses it. It speaks to the futility of all, and it's in keeping with the kind of naivete of the character, who is no professional spy and who will certainly retire from that nefarious business."

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