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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
2 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:

It tears you apart with suspense! 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

The cast includes three Oscar winners: Paul Newman, Julie Andrews, and Lila Kedrova; and one Oscar nominee: Sir Alfred Hitchcock. See more »

Goofs

The message Professor Armstrong writes out in the bathroom stall, "Contact Pi . . . " does not match up with the letters underlined on p. 107 of the book, the source of the coded message. 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 Hitchcock (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Francesca da Rimini, Op. 32
(1876) (uncredited)
Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Played during the ballet
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Underrated and if no "gem" still fascinating for Newman alone...
9 October 2009 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Torn Curtain (1966)

Hitchcock was on an odd path in the 1960s toward more contained and artificial films, beginning in a way with North by Northwest (a masterpiece of control, for sure) but getting overtly stylized in Birds and Marnie. Here, in a bizarre casting choice, we replace the doubtfully capable Tippi Hedron with doubtfully appropriate Julie Andrews, fresh out of The Sound of Music. And of course, there is Paul Newman, who had recently filmed Harper and before that, Hud. A weird mix, and it has its moments. In fact, the chemistry between the two leads in the first scenes is surprising and you might expect or want more of that later on--and you won't get it.

Add to these actors a tense milieu from the time, Cold War defections and the atom bomb, and you have an intriguing basis for making a movie. You can see why he gave it a go. The plot, for what it's worth, is ultimately thin and not convincing (hints of Cloak and Dagger with Gary Cooper way back in 1946) but Newman, at least, pulls off his role as Dr. Armstrong, atomic scientist, with intense restraint. Andrews? She doesn't sing, and there are no children to be seen (except briefly, on Hitchcock's lap in his cameo!), and frankly, sadly, she comes off a little out of her element. But then, her character as Armstrong's assistant is also meant to be a bit out to sea. We don't see too much of her. We do see lots of various bit characters, little known and not very interesting men, mostly, with Swedish or German accents. (I say it that way because they are almost just cardboard props for types of people--you know, those cold hearted Stasi types or the cool and cunning Swedes you can't quite figure out, neither of which is especially true or helpful for the plot.)

Of course, Hitchcock doesn't intend to make this a Cold War commentary. (The Spy Who Came in from the Cold with Richard Burton the previous year is the film to see for that.) Hitchcock uses the East German scene as a backdrop for the suspense of deception, and of ordinary people trying not to get caught, a perennial theme he manages so well. Besides Newman, there is a fabulous small role by the great Soviet actress Lila Kedrova that brings the last half hour to life. In the middle of the movie there is one scene that's totally brilliant and wordless, with Newman and Carolyn Conwell in a farmhouse, and it's worth the ride alone. Don't miss that for the world.

This can't be Hitchcock's or Newman's or Andrews's best movie for a lot of reasons. But it's a very good movie, which is enough for most of us, and an essential for any Hitchcock fan, and a enlightening surprise for anyone who thinks they know Paul Newman and want to see yet more of his impressive range.


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