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USA 1966
Directed by
Alfred Hitchcock
128 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

Torn Curtain

One of Hitchcock's last films, Torn Curtain, a Cold War romantic-spy story is overlong, poorly cast and dramatically flat with, even for the director, an excessive reliance on back-projection which makes the film look not just dated but simply not trying.

Paul Newman plays Professor Michael Armstrong and Julie Andrews his girlfriend/assistant, Dr. Sarah Sherman. When Armstrong decamps to East Berlin, ostensibly having thrown his cap in with the Reds, Sherman follows him and the predictable ensues. Newman, who apparently did not get on with Hitchcock, is no-one’s idea of a rocket scientist and Andrews is so demure as to make Mary Poppins look tough in comparison.

Nothing about the film from the leads supposed romance to their tangling with the stereotypical Communist heavies comes close to convincing. It didn’t in its day and it doesn’t now. Hitchcock give a few signature touches such as the occasional crane shot, the macabre farmhouse murder of Armstrong’s security man and one of his favourites, the theatre escape which goes back to 1935’s The Thirty-Nine Steps but the film simply drags on mechanically (Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall, authors of the stage play Billy Liar, were brought in to add some zip to Brian Moore's script but to no avail).




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