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Torn Curtain (1966)

PG | | Thriller | 27 July 1966 (USA)
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An American scientist publicly defects to East Germany as part of a cloak and dagger mission to find the solution for a formula resin before planning an escape back to the West.

Director:

Alfred Hitchcock

Writer:

Brian Moore
3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Paul Newman ... Professor Michael Armstrong
Julie Andrews ... Sarah Sherman
Lila Kedrova ... Countess Kuchinska
Hansjörg Felmy ... Heinrich Gerhard (as Hansjoerg Felmy)
Tamara Toumanova ... Ballerina
Ludwig Donath ... Professor Gustav Lindt
Wolfgang Kieling ... Hermann Gromek
Günter Strack Günter Strack ... Professor Karl Manfred
David Opatoshu ... Mr. Jacobi
Gisela Fischer Gisela Fischer ... Dr. Koska
Mort Mills ... Farmer
Carolyn Conwell Carolyn Conwell ... Farmer's Wife
Arthur Gould-Porter Arthur Gould-Porter ... Freddy - the Bookseller
Gloria Govrin Gloria Govrin ... Fräulein Mann (as Gloria Gorvin)
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Storyline

Professor Michael Armstrong is heading to Copenhagen, Denmark to attend a physics conference accompanied by his assistant and 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 U.S. government cancelled 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:

Suspense! Azione! Sorpresa! [Suspense! Action! Surprise!] See more »

Genres:

Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Swedish | Norwegian

Release Date:

27 July 1966 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cortina rasgada See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$13,000,000, 31 December 1966
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Was reportedly one of Sir Alfred Hitchcock's unhappiest directing jobs. See more »

Goofs

A few snippets of dialogue in the scenes in the East German university clearly show that the extras are Americans. 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 »

Alternate Versions

In the original version, various German dialogues are translated to English (i.e. at the airport). In the German version, these translations were removed. Additionally, letters written in English were replaced with letters written in German. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Trouble with Harry Isn't Over (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Torn Curtain Love Theme (End Title)
Written by John Addison
Performed by The Johnny Mann Singers
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
In many ways, Hitchcock often wore the same pants.
28 January 2004 | by plaidpotatoSee all my reviews

Hitchcock made a few clunkers in his day, but this isn't one of them, despite its reputation. I don't know if I could get away with saying it's one of Hitchcock's ten best features, but I found it to be easily one of his top ten most entertaining. I enjoyed watching Torn Curtain a lot more than some of his established classics, like Notorious and the Birds, even if it's not quite as psychologically complex as those films.

The main thing about Torn Curtain is the photography. It's full of pretty pictures--one of the most beautifully filmed of all Hitchcock's films, with lots bold swaths of primary colors and attractive and constantly changing locations--some scenes look like they were shot on location, while others are wonderfully artificial studio creations, and they're blended together perfectly. Another cool thing about Torn Curtain is that it's constantly on the move. It never stagnates. The pacing is deliberate, but engaging. It's well-plotted and suspenseful.

It's full of fantastic little directorial touches, like the scene where Paul Newman ducks into a bathroom to read his secret spy message. Hitchcock never shows us the room. He keeps the camera tight on Paul Newman, so we can't tell who or what might be in that room with us, just out of frame. It's totally simple, but it creates a highly effective feeling of uneasiness and paranoia. This movie also features one of the strangest and best-filmed death scenes I've ever seen. Hitchcock was still on top of his game here.

Most of the bad reviews for Torn Curtain seem to focus on the acting. I don't know why.

A lot of people bash Julie Andrews just for being Julie Andrews, and that hardly seems fair. Typecasting sucks. And while I wouldn't say she turned in one of the most memorable and overpowering performances of all time, her role didn't call for that. Torn Curtain wasn't a complex character study, it was a plot-based thriller. And Julie Andrews was perfectly adequate for that, even pretty good when she was given a chance to be.

Paul Newman was perfect. He wasn't his usual charming self here. He was grim and tight-lipped and stiff--as would be appropriate for a scientist feeling out of his league, playing a spy in a hostile country, having to pretend to be a traitor--a role which he found objectionable--all with his girlfriend annoyingly tagging along and complicating everything.

I understand that Paul Newman found working for Hitchcock objectionable. It makes me wonder if Hitch deliberately made life unpleasant for Paul just to get this kind of tooth-gritting performance from him. Whatever, Hitch and Paul were both great.

And so was this film.


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