Torn Curtain

Released 1966




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Movie Summary

Alfred Hitchcock

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.


Metacritic Score

  • 50

    Slant Magazine

    Torn Curtain, which was a commercial success because of the drawing power of its stars, is an artistic flop.

  • 50

    Time Out

    Hitchcock, seemingly too dour or too uninterested to turn in the title's promise of a Cold War ripping yarn, settles instead for a dissection of the limits of domestic trust.

  • 50

    The New York Times Bosley Crowther

    In these times, with James Bonds cutting capers and pallid spies coming in out of the cold, Mr. Hitchcock will have to give us something a good bit brighter to keep us amused.

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

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • 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.


More Info About This Movie


Politics, Thrillers, Espionage, Classics