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Torn Curtain - what a disappointment


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For the first time, I viewed Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain (1966). Was I the only one disappointed by its mediocrity? Despite the huge talents of Newman, Andrews, Kedrova, and others, the film died a painful death with its campy dialogue and outlandish plot. I expected so much, especially as an admirer of Hitchcock's masterpieces, but sadly I found Torn Curtain a bitter letdown. Does anyone else feel the same way, or differently?

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I feel that after Hitchcock made "Psycho" and "The Birds" in the 60's he kind of mellowed out, concentrating on his TV show instead of movies. I love Paul Newman, but never liked Julie Andrews as an actress. The picture is a little confusing due to the iron curtain plot,and flat dialog. Not one of Hitchcock's better premises. I usually skip it when it on.One viewing is enough. vallo

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Don't you hate that?? You hear all about a movie and look for it forever, then you get it and...bleah. Recently saw "Sign of the Cross" and honestly, I wasn't impressed.

Of course it balances out--sometimes, you watch something expecting to be mildly entertained and you end up loving it. I fully expected to be indifferent about "On the Waterfront" and by "You Can't Take It With You", despite their status as "essentials" but I really liked both of them. Go figure.

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In my opinion, Torn Curtain is probably Hitchcock's worst film. Newman and Andrews were cast because of their huge popularity at the time but they have no chemistry whatsoever. Hitchcock chose not to film on location and therefore the film has a very fake look to it. I believe they used a grey filter to give East Germany a drab look but it just makes the film look bad. The screen play has holes galore. The scene where Newman and the farm woman kill the German agent makes absolutely no sense. Hitchcock fired Bernard Herrmann over this film when Herrmann delivered a score not to his liking. If you hear the Herrmann score you could tell he was trying to pump some energy into a film that was severely lacking. Oddly enough, the film did very good business when it was released. Hitchcock followed this film with Topaz which has a lot of problems but is slightly better due to some interesting scenes. He finally went to England to shoot on location with his next film, Frenzy and it made a huge difference. Frenzy is a very well made, tight thriller.

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I guess as a die hard movie buff, I can find some good in most films and Hitchcock's "Torn Curtain" (1966)is no exception.

The slick cold war thriller had it's moments especially the chilling farmhouse sequence (making it so difficult to actually kill a person). Also the 'fire' in the theater, the scientist at the blackboard, escaping from the ship, and wonderful Lila Kedrova doing her best to get to America, etc.

Also thought that Paul Newman and Julie Andrews made a cute couple.

Not to forget Hitchcock's cameo appearance.

 

Mongo

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TORN CURTAIN was a major disappointment for me. I would definitely not classify Newman and Andrews as a "cute couple". Part of this film's failure is the casting of the two leads. There is absolutely no charisma between Newman & Andrews. Athough I like her, I felt Andrews (who was 'big' at this time) was totally miscast and Hitchcock had problems with Newman's method acting. I think the film might have worked with different leads.

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I midly enjoyed Torn Curtain, though I do agree that it wasnt one of the better films of Mr. Hitchcock. As a classic movie fan, I always fine something good. I am a fan of Julie Andrews, but felt that she might have been miscast in this movie...she is forever remembered as Mary Poppins...but did have some wonderful other movies that went outside the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious mold.

 

Torn Curtain is one that does have to be watched more than once, but I do have to agree with a post earlier that since it was not filmed on location that it does look rather cheesy!

 

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In referring to occasional flops, didn't Bette Davis once say to an interviewer, "Well, they can't all be zingers!"

 

Or was it Charles Pierce in one of his wonderful impersonations of Davis?

Or was it Margo Channing impersonating Davis?

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I agree, "Torn Curtain" was certainly not one of Hitchcock's better films. However, there isn't a director or a star that hasn't made a poor film and there can be many reasons. As others pointed out, the casting was bad and being filmed on the backlot didn't help either and I suspect there was a lot of pressure from the studio to get the film done while the stars were still "hot". That said, with all the great films he made, one should be able to overlook a "clunker" or two made by "the master".

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I'm having a hard time remembering if I've seen this one or not. Incredibly, it doesn't appear to be on DVD!

 

In any case, I agree that it's hard to "pick on" Hitchcock for a few bad films given the legacy he left us. I'd seen the Master's 30 or more "best" films, and have been "filling in the blanks" (mostly to make that section of my website more complete) lately regarding his lesser known "failures". Some, like my previous "Wicked Women" post about Under Capricorn (1949) indicates, have had parts which were a pleasant surprise. While for others, like Stage Fright (1950), it's obvious why they weren't successful. I think this latter film is easily the worst Hitchcock film I've ever seen.

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