TORN CURTAIN

ALFRED HITCHCOCK

The story of an apparently defecting American scientist in East Germany, Torn Curtain provides a fascinating case study of the problems faced by Hitchcock in the changing Hollywood of the 1960s. He was persuaded to use two big current stars, Paul Newman and Julie Andrews, and found Newman especially resistant to his methods; his screenwriter, Irish novelist Brian Moore, left early, necessitating the input of uncredited script doctors; and his anxiety to please Universal led him to reject Bernard Herrmann’s dark orchestral score, in a catastrophic break with his key collaborator (the two scores can now be compared on DVD).

The film still offers a strong narrative of the Cold War, with, at its centre, a memorable scene that demonstrates in a domestic kitchen, at agonisingly protracted length, “the extreme difficulty of actually killing anybody.”

This film is screening as part of The Genius of Hitchcock: Part Three (February 2nd – 27th), which is part of a complete retrospective of the filmmaker’s work running until March 2013. 

128 minutes, U.S.A., 1966, Colour, 35mm

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