My Thoughts On… Torn Curtain

Just a quick reminder that My Thoughts On… posts may contain spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film in question, it may be best to move on!

It’s been a while since I actually watched this film, so I should apologise for the vague nature of this post. I really need to get these film posts done in a much more timely fashion!

Synopsis

An American scientist publicly defects to East Germany as part of a cloak and dagger mission to find the solution for a formula resin and then figuring out a plan to escape back to the West. (from IMDb)

What I Liked

  • Whilst I am not suggesting that everything Hitchcock touched turned to gold, there’s no denying what a talented filmmaker he was. This is a classic Hitchcock mystery thriller, with his hallmark over it, so it’s entertaining in that Hitchcockian way. Once you’ve worked out that Paul Newman’s character is not in fact defecting, you have the thrill of waiting to see whether or not he and his fiancée (played by Julie Andrews) will make it out of East Germany.
  • There’s a scene in which Armstrong (played by Newman) goes to a museum and finds himself pursued. I think I’ve expressed before my obsessive love of great sound in a film, and this is a great sound moment. The sound of echoing footsteps is just fabulous.
  • It’s always fun to watch out for the Hitchcock cameo, and it comes very early in Torn Curtain, and is one of the most obvious ones I’ve ever seen; he’s just sitting in a chair with a child on his lap! Interesting fact: the child is Julie Andrews’ daughter.
  • The scene in which Gromek, Armstrong’s German handler is killed, is one of those fight scenes that feels like it’s never going to end. You feel as though Gromek just won’t be killed, no matter how hard they try. Hitchcock said that he did it deliberately, to show that people aren’t as easily killed as some films would have you believe.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Whenever I have a discussion with anyone about Steve McQueen and how much I adore him, they always seem to bring up Paul Newman; my friend Hannah did it the other day. I don’t class them in the same league in any way, particularly in terms of attractiveness, but mainly in terms of general screen presence. I know it may not be a particularly popular opinion, but Paul Newman does very little for me. As a Hitchcock hero, he does not even come close to the likes of James Stewart or Cary Grant.
  • Despite my love for Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, I’m not actually the hugest fan of Julie Andrews. She’s kind of annoying, and my mum really couldn’t bear to watch her (though that might have been to do with the fact that I did Mary Poppins to death as a child). So here, as the Hitchcock blonde, she doesn’t really seem to fit. Again, there are other actresses who have done it better. Apparently, both Newman and Andrews were studio choices, not Hitchcock’s, who would have preferred Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant in the roles. I don’t know if his disapproval led to them not quite gelling, or if they were never destined to, but to me, you can really tell it doesn’t quite work.

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