Torn Curtain – 1966 – English
Synopsis: Professor Michael Armstrong (Paul Newman) is heading to Copenhagen, Denmark to attend a physics conference accompanied by his assistant and fiancée Sarah Sherman (Julie Andrews). Once arrived however, Michael informs her that he may be staying for awhile and she should return home. She follows him and realizes he’s actually heading to East Germany, behind the Iron Curtain. She follows him there and is shocked when he announces that he’s defecting to the East after the U.S. government cancelled his research project. In fact, Michael is there to obtain information from a renowned East German scientist. Once the information is obtained, he and Sarah now have to make their way back to the West.
Review: This hardly ever appears in the lists of the master’s best films, but it is a real gem – superbly acted, inventively filmed with great music, dialogue and plot. Julie Andrews and Paul Newman work really well together – a very sexy scene early in the film is a delight, filmed in extreme close-up. And Lila Kedrova’s cameo is Oscar worthy.
This is also a memorable look at the Cold War at its height, and although the pro-West propaganda is a little thick at times, there is still a sense of the absurdity of the situation. And there is a murder scene of unbelievable savagery that really left me shaken – excellent work here from Newman and Carolyn Conwell. The most memorable scene is the bus pursuit sequence, and the theatre audience turning into an hysterical mob when Newman yells “fire” is a great Hitchcock moment. One of his best cameo appearances too. I think this film deserves re-examination.