I consider myself a pretty big Alfred Hitchcock fan, and I think I've seen almost all of his movies, give or take a few silents... and Torn Curtain. I'm not entirely sure how it eluded me all these years but, until this week, I had never seen it. I've always heard that it wasn't too great, so I popped it into my DVD player with incredibly low expectations. And I was pleasantly surprised!
I thought it got off to a slow start and didn't really grab hold of me until we - the audience - were fully informed about what was going on. I've always thought that was one of the best trademarks of a Hitchcock movie, that you're aware of things that the main characters aren't. You know that there's a murderer about to whip back the shower curtain, but Janet Leigh has NO IDEA. Once I was in the know, though, I thought the movie was incredibly suspenseful and classically Hitchcockian.
The movie stars Paul Newman (the obsession continues) and Julie Andrews as an engaged pair of scientists about to attend a conference in Copenhagen. Paul Newman's character starts acting kind of fishy and before Julie Andrews can say "iron curtain" she's caught in an unexpectedly traitorous predicament. And that is when the movie starts to get really good.
Honestly there was a part of me that was just like "Oh my gosh, Paul Newman, just tell your finance what you're up to and end this charade! For the love of God just tell her already!" Secrecy as a plot device is always a major pet peeve for me. Of course, a lot of movies depend on misunderstandings or confusion to move the plot forward, so honesty might not always be the best policy when it comes to screenwriting. There were several moments in Torn Curtain where the suspense rested completely on the lack of communication between Paul Newman and Julie Andrews. It definitely added a layer of anxiety to the first hour or so of the movie, but it's still very annoying that Newman's character would hide such a ridiculously important secret from someone who was his intellectual equal, and his partner in life.
Unnecessary secrecy aside, Torn Curtain way exceeded my expectations. Maybe it's because my expectations were so low that I was able to enjoy it so much, or maybe it's just a really great, underrated movie that deserves a second look. Either way, I think it's definitely worth a watch. Oh, and (to ruin what could have been a perfectly serious review) Paul Newman is shirtless again, so there's that. ;)
It's available to rent on amazon here.