Reel Classics: the classic movie site

Movie Reviews

Films listed by Year | Films listed by Title | Films listed by Rank

 Movie Review:
- Some weaknesses, but overall a decent film.

dir. Alfred Hitchcock at Universal Pictures
with Paul Newman (Michael Armstrong) and Julie Andrews (Sarah Sherman)

In this spy thriller, Julie Andrews and Paul Newman play two American nuclear scientists walking the wall between East and West during the Cold War.  Like all Hitchcock films, TORN CURTAIN has its fair share of suspense, and it is that quality that earns this film as high a ranking as it receives.  However, when compared with other Hitchcock films of this period, it leaves something to be desired.

First, Bernard Herrmannís music is missing, replaced this time with background by John Addison.  Itís not that Addisonís music is bad -Ė it just doesnít contribute as well to the atmosphere of the picture as Herrmannís music did to such films as VERTIGO (1958) and PSYCHO (1960).  And a silent murder scene? Well, that point could be argued either way, so Iíll leave it.

Next, technically this movie falls short in some places.  Thereís a lot of back projection and a few rough special effects which give the movie a very set-y look in places.  Also, much of the picture is shot from close range -- face shots or waist-up. There are a few long shots and diverging camera angles from time to time, but visually things get a little static and we begin to wonder what Hitch is hiding by not showing us the rest of the scene.

The other major reason this film doesnít live up to its predecessors is the story line. The initial setting of the stage is a little murky, and then after the audience does finally figure out whatís happening, weíre ahead of Sarah who is still in the dark about what Michael is up to.  Actually, Newmanís acting can be faulted for part of this trouble.  He seems to be trying so hard to reveal to the audience his characterís true intentions, that he fails to act in a manner which will convince us that Julie Andrews canít really understand what heís doing.  We get it; why doesnít she?

Overall, for Newman fans this film isnít one of his best.  Hitchcockís manner of storytelling and Newmanís "Method" of acting donít seem to combine very well here. And Julie Andrews fans beware: sheís not as wholesome as Mary Poppins in this film, but neither is she very worldly wise, and the overall combination doesnít make for much of a character.  (Iím not a fan of the frosted hairdo either.)  But for Hitchcock fans, this film, though not one of his bests, is still worth a look -Ė and his extensive use of foreign language in this picture is especially worthy of artistic note.

Reviewed: December 24, 1999

Films listed by Year | Films listed by Title | Films listed by Rank


Buy Videos & DVDs
Find your movie at
Movies Unlimited

Buy Movie Posters
& Film Stills

Buy Movie Posters
In Affiliation with

Classic Movie Merchandise
-- recommended links to dozens of online vendors selling classic movies & all kinds of related products.

printer-friendly pagePrinter-friendly version.   return to the topReturn to the top.
Last updated: March 10, 2011.
Reel Classics is a registered trademark of Reel Classics, L.L.C.
© 1997-2011 Reel Classics, L.L.C.  All rights reserved.  No copyright is claimed on non-original or licensed material.  Terms of Use.  Privacy Policy.