Torn Curtain

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Released 1966

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Movie Summary

Director:
Alfred Hitchcock
Released:
1966
Rating:
PG

Torn Curtain (1966) is an Alfred Hitchcock political thriller with Paul Newman and Julie Andrews as scientists caught in a cold war conflict. When Michael Armstrong, an American professor, suddenly defects to East Germany, his girlfriend, Sarah, who is his assistant, decides to follow him into the Communist country, not realising that Michael is feigning being a traitor so that he can access a secret formula devised by the celebrated Professor Lindt. The less Sarah knows, the safer she will be in this cold war world of double agents, bugged hotel rooms and suspicious East Germans; but a German undercover agent, Gromek, discovers the truth about Michael's "defection" and the cruel game of deception gets a lot nastier.

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    Paul Newman

    Paul Newman

    Professor Michael Armstrong

    Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews

    Sarah Sherman

    Lila Kedrova

    Lila Kedrova

    Countess Kuchinska

    David Opatoshu

    David Opatoshu

    Mr. Jacobi

    Hansjoerg Felmy

    Hansjoerg Felmy

    Heinrich Gerhard

    Ludwig Donath

    Ludwig Donath

    Professor Gustav Lindt

    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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    • TRIVIA (4)

      • The ballet attended by Michael and Sarah in East Germany is Tchaikovsky's Francesca di Rimini.

      • It was generally agreed that the biggest problem the film had was that Alfred Hitchcock was obliged to start filming before the screenplay was quite finished to his satisfaction, because of Julie Andrews's busy work-schedule. As Hitchcock did not have the easiest of relationships with writer Brian Moore (who was dismissive of the film in later interviews), he brought in the writing team of Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall to make last-minute adjustments. He planned to give them equal writing credit with Moore, but the latter objected strongly and the arbitration went in his favour. People close to Hitchcock recalled that this was one of the few things ever to make him angry.

      • Alfred Hitchcock commissioned his friend Bernard Herrmann, who had worked with him on many previous films, to compose the music for Torn Curtain, but was dissatisfied by the result. The two men had a terrible quarrel and never worked with each other again. Herrmann was replaced as composer by John Addison.

      • Alfred Hitchcock, on the defensive after the critical mauling and disappointing box-office of his most recent film, Marnie, agreed to the strong suggestion of Universal executives that he should cast Paul Newman and Julie Andrews in the leading roles of this, his fiftieth feature film. Newman was at the zenith of his box-office power at the time, and Andrews, a recent Oscar winner, was the most popular new film star in the world. Later, Hitchcock openly expressed regret about the casting of both of them, and revealed that he would have preferred Anthony Perkins and Eva Marie Saint to play the leads.

    • QUOTES (2)

    • NOTES (1)

      • This was the most expensive film that Alfred Hitchcock had ever made, costing Universal Studios some $5,500,000. Hitchcock later complained that, because of the expense of hiring Paul Newman and Julie Andrews, he had been forced to make economies elsewhere in the film which had damaged it, artistically; for example, certain location scenes had to be filmed in parts of California rather than Europe. Between them, Newman and Andrews accounted for well over a quarter of the film's budget. Although Newman had been a major star for ten years and Andrews only for one year, she was actually paid slightly more than her leading man.

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    Themes

    Politics, Thrillers, Espionage, Classics