One of the reasons Alfred Hitchcock did not want to use Paul Newman and Julie Andrews was their very high fees. For the rest of his career Hitchcock would never hire performers with the same sort of fee or above.
Universal Studios' Stage 28, The Phantom of the Opera (1925)'s interior European three-tiered box seat horseshoe theatre and stage proscenium used in this film, existed as a permanent standing set. This (as of 2014) is the oldest permanent standing set in Hollywood. In 1965 the Paris Opera theatre interior set had fallen into disrepair, but Universal gave permission for Alfred Hitchcock to use it in the climax of this film. Hitch had his crew (including Joseph Musso, later to become a renowned production illustrator) restore the theatre set back to the way it was originally built for the 1925 Lon Chaney film. The original blueprints for the 1925 film no longer existed in 1964, but Musso had a great 8"x10" photo collection from the film that showed the Paris Opera theater interior in great detail. Based on these archived B&W photos, 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 W. Corso, Burwell Hamrick, William 'Bill' O'Brien. Mort Rabinowitz also worked on the film as an illustrator (he became a production designer shortly after working on this film). Musso did the set illustrations on the opera house in color and painted Hitchcock's film crew in the audience besides Newman, Andrews and Hitchcock. Hitchcock kept Musso's illustration as his private and personal souvenir.
Swedish actor Jan Malmsjö (who had a small uncredited role as photographer in the final scenes in Helsingborg harbor and customs) found that a lot of signs were not written in correct Swedish, so he helped the film crew correct them.
Bernard Herrmann recorded nine cues for the film before Alfred Hitchcock fired him. They are Prelude, The Ship, Radiogram, The Hotel, The Bookstore, The Book, Travel Desk, Blurring, and The Killing. Unfortunately, only three cues from original recording have been released on disc. Those three cues are Prelude, The Ship, and Radiogram.
Bernard Herrmann wrote the original score, but Universal Pictures executives convinced Alfred Hitchcock that they needed a more upbeat score. Hitchcock and Herrmann had a major disagreement, the score was dropped and they never worked together again.
Although unexcited about his leading actress, Alfred Hitchcock was always very polite with Julie Andrews. About her experience making the film, Andrews commented, "I did not have to act in 'Torn Curtain'. I merely went along for the ride. I don't feel that the part demanded much of me, other than to look glamorous, which Mr. Hitchcock can always arrange better than anyone. I did have reservations about this film, but I wasn't agonized by it. The kick of it was working for Hitchcock. That's what I did it for, and that's what I got out of it".
The idea behind the film came from the defection of British diplomats Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean to the Soviet Union in 1951. Alfred Hitchcock was particularly intrigued about Maclean's life in the Soviet Union and about Melinda Marling, Maclean's wife, who followed her husband behind the Iron Curtain a year later with the couple's three children.
In the scene where Julie Andrews climbs to the top of the stairs to enter the bookstore, on the wall there is a poster advertising a department store called "Den Permanente". In Alfred Hitchcock's Topaz (1969), made after this film, a scene is shot in that store.
Bernard Herrmann was able to record nine cues for this film before Alfred Hitchcock fired him. Unfortunately, only three from the original recording have been released on disc. Those three are Prelude, The Ship, and Radiogram.
In conversation with François Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock said that he included the fight scene deliberately to show the audience how difficult it can be to kill a man, because a number of spy thrillers at the time made killing look effortless.
Alfred Hitchcock allegedly wanted to cast Eva Marie Saint, whom he had previously directed in North by Northwest (1959), but the studio felt that the 42-year-old Saint was too old for the role and thought the female lead should be played by a box-office star, so it cast the younger and more popular Julie Andrews.
Wolfgang Kieling ("Gromek") wrote in his autobiography that it was Paul Newman who wanted Gromek's older brother scenes to be removed from the final cut. Bernard Herrmann composed two cues for Gromek's brother scenes. They are called "Photos" and "Sausage."
In a Norman Lloyd/Steve Smith 1996 Interview, Lloyd revealed that he was there during the break-up of the Alfred Hitchcock/Bernard Herrmann partnership. Lloyd said that there was great pressure on Hitchcock not to hire Bernard Herrmann. That pressure came from the front office at Universal, most notably from its music department. The reason given was that Herrmann couldn't write a hit song. Universal was talking about getting Henry Mancini, but Hitchcock decided to go with Herrmann, but because of the pressure he was getting from Universal he laid very specifically to Herrmann what he wanted in the score. Herrmann wrote the score after receiving this directive. When Hitchcock heard the score he 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. Herrmann tried to get to see Hitchcock, but Hitchcock wouldn't see him--he felt that Herrmann had deliberately ignored his directive. Lloyd went on to say, "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."
Unsatisfied with the actors cast in the leads, Alfred Hitchcock shifted the point of view of the plot from the defecting scientist's wife to the American amateur spy and he centered his attention in the colorful international actors who played supporting roles in the film. Lila Kedrova was Hitchcock's favorite among the cast; he ate lunch with her several times during filming and invited her home for dinners with his wife. Although the length of the film was shortened in post-production, Hitchcock left intact Countess Kutchiska scenes in the final film.
According to the book "It's Only a Movie", Brian Moore was chosen to write the screenplay, but shooting began before Alfred Hitchcock was satisfied with the script, dictated by the limited availability of Julie Andrews.
The working relationship between Alfred Hitchcock and Paul Newman was problematic. Newman came from a different generation of actors from the likes of Cary Grant and James Stewart. He questioned Hitchcock about the script and the characterization throughout filming. Hitchcock later said he found Newman's manner and approach unacceptable and disrespectful. Newman insisted that he meant no disrespect towards Hitchcock, and once said, "I think Hitch and I could have really hit it off, but the script kept getting in the way." When Newman, a Method actor, consulted Hitchcock about his character's motivations, the director replied that Newman's "motivation is your salary." Furthermore, as Hitchcock discovered, the expected onscreen chemistry between Newman and Andrews failed to materialize.
Alfred Hitchcock told François Truffaut that he was giving "Gromek's brother" scenes to Truffaut. Truffaut told Hitchcock that he would look at these scenes and then turn them over to Henri Langlois for the Cinematheque Francaise. However, it has yet to be found and is generally considered to be lost.
In the fall of 1964 Alfred Hitchcock offered to let Vladimir Nabokov, the author of "Lolita" who had successfully helped adapt his own novel to the well-regarded Lolita (1962), write the script. Although intrigued, Nabokov declined the project, feeling that he knew very little about a political thriller.
According to the book "Hitch: The Life and Times of Alfred Hitchcock", Alfred Hitchcock Hitchcock was unsatisfied with Brian Moore's screenplay, so he brought in Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall to do a rewrite job on it. Their contribution was considerable enough for Hitchcock to feel strongly that they should receive screen credit. However, Moore disputed this, and an adjudication by the Screenwriters Guild gave him sole credit, to Hitchcock's irritation.
The opening credits lists the most comprehensive cast--all 14 members; the end credits lists only 12 of those members with character names. IMDb policy, therefore, requires the opening cast list to be used.
Donald Spoto wrote that Alfred Hitchcock hid behind the door when Bernard Herrmann went to see him after their break up. Herrmann's third wife Norma denied this in an interview with Gunther Kogebehn in June 2006. She states that she and Herrmann "together" visited Hitchcock.
Alfred Hitchcock: early in the film sitting in a hotel lobby with a baby on his knee. He transfers the baby to his other knee, and then rubs his knee, as if disdainfully looking at something the baby has done to it.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
According to the book "It's Only a Movie", Alfred Hitchcock said, "There was an ending written which wasn't used, but I rather liked it. No one agreed with me except my colleague at home [his wife Alma Reville]. Everyone told me that you couldn't have a letdown ending after all that. Paul 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 naiveté of the character, who is no professional spy and who will certainly retire from that nefarious business."
A scene showing Wolfgang Kieling, who played Gromek, also playing Gromek's brother was cut. In it he shows Michael Armstrong (Paul Newman), who has just killed Gromek, a picture of Gromek's three children. It was believed that this would have shifted the audience's sympathy away from Newman to the dead man. Unfortunately, a close-up of the brother cutting a sausage with a knife similar to the one used in the murder, a characteristically Hitchcockian shot, was also lost.
Bernard Herrmann did compose a cue called "Back Door" for the scene where Prof. Armstrong (Paul Newman) unexpectedly sees Gromek (Wolfgang Kieling) at the farm. However, this cue wasn't recorded by Elmer Bernstein or Joel McNeely in their recordings of Herrmann's score for this film. Although McNeely and Bernstein end their recordings at Herrmann's cue "The Bus", still it is uncertain if Herrmann composed the cues for the rest of this film.