Torn Curtain (1966)

torn curtain poster 1966 movie alfred hitchcock
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Has some moments and the second half moved better than the first part

Takes too long to set-up, not much on-screen chemistry from Newman and Andrews

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Torn Curtain

Studio:  Universal Pictures

Genre(s):  Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):  July 14, 1966

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


Paul Newman looks bored…he’s probably just mad at Hitch

Michael Armstrong (Paul Newman) is a scientist making a big decision. He’s defecting to East Germany and joining Soviets scientists to continue his research which has been defunded.  Unfortunately, Armstrong’s fiancée Sarah Sherman (Julie Andrews) has followed Armstrong and now is also caught up in his defecting with a decision of her own.  Armstrong however has a secret.  He is only pretending to defect to get critical research from the Soviets’ leading scientist Professor Gustav Lindt (Ludwig Donath)…but now Sarah’s arrival has complicated his chances of getting out of East Germany by adding another person to the plans.

Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Torn Curtain is Cold War thriller. The movie follows Hitchcock’s Marnie from 1964.  The production of the movie was tumultuous with Hitchcock clashing with Newman and also led to Hitchcock firing his regular composer Bernard Herrmann.  The movie was released to mixed reviews.


One of my favorite Hitchcock cameos…Hitch: The Babysitter.

I like Hitchcock, I like Andrews, and I like Newman…Torn Curtain however is rather ho-hum. With all the great pieces for the movie, watching Torn Curtain makes you wonder where the missteps were (though it is a bit better with a secondary viewing).

The movie’s biggest problem is the pacing. It takes far too long to set-up the scenario of the defecting and the problems caused by Andrews following him.  Once Newman goes to the farmhouse, the pace really picks up.  The chase and escape from East Germany is pretty exciting (though that bus ride could have been cut by a minute or two)…the movie just takes too long to get there.

Hitchcock had real problems with the actors. He and Newman clashed because Newman wanted to get more into his character while Hitchcock was used to actor who just followed direction.  Andrews reported that she worked well with Hitchcock, but Hitchcock wasn’t free to really cast either actor (the studio forced them on him and used up a chunk of his budget for their salaries).  Neither Newman or Andrews is very dynamic in their roles and it is easy to forget that they were ever “Hitchcock actors”.


Hey guy, you have a knife stuck in your chest…

The movie does have some Hitchcock style to it. It looks and feels like some of Hitchcock classic works.  Hitchcock, just like with the actors, allegedly had little choice with this project which was kind of thrust upon him.  Despite this, Torn Curtain still has a real Hitchcock style and look to it that is good, but it damned by the story.

Torn Curtain should have been a success on paper. Hitchcock always brought in crowds and Newman and Andrews were some of the hottest actors at the time…unfortunately, Torn Curtain is a bit of a bore.  The plot takes a long time to set-up and start moving, but once it does the movie does improve.  Despite being one of Hitchcock’s weaker pictures, Torn Curtain is better than his following film which was the adaptation of Leon Uris’ Topaz in 1969.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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