Torn Curtain. Alfred Hitchcock. 1966. ⚂
[twenty minutes pass]
OH! I thought this was the movie with the Dali dream sequence? I was thinking… “torn curtain to conscience” or something… but that’s Spellbound! Gah! I always expect Spellbound!
I must see it again sometime.
So this really is an espionage thriller?
[twenty minutes pass]
If this had been made two decades ago, I’d say the museum set was all CGI. But er it can’t be? It’s just so odd.
[five minutes pass]
It’s just strange how … ungood this movie is. I mean, it has some great Hitchcock touches here and there, and the plot (a guy pretending to defect to get some science secrets) is fine. But it just isn’t exciting. Is the problem Paul Newman? He seems pretty checked out, and he can be pretty intense. Julie Andrews? Yes, she’s sleepwalking through this movie.
It just seems to go on and on, with one kinda-not-bad shot after another, but nothing ever seems to connect.
[ten minutes pass]
Oh! I’ve seen this before! Nothing really seemed familiar until the slo-mo German killing scene, which I totally did remember. I must have seen this as a teenager?
Was that the scene that made Hitch do this movie? Because it’s totally something he’d want to do — all those technical challenges…
[fifty minutes pass]
Why is this movie so long? The movie seems so uninspired that I’m wondering whether Hitch just went “eh, I can’t be bothered looking at the edits” and they kept all the filmed scenes because they were too scared to do anything else.
There’s zero chemistry between Paul Newman and Julie Andrews. It’s like a void… I keep forgetting that they’re supposed to be lovers.
Hitchcock had to compromise in his casting choices. Initially, he wanted Eva Marie Saint, the blonde star of North by Northwest, for the female lead. Hitchcock also spoke in 1965 to Cary Grant about appearing in the film, only to learn that Grant intended to make just one more film and then retire.
Universal Pictures executives insisted on famous stars being cast for the leads. Paul Newman and Julie Andrews were imposed on Hitchcock by Lew Wasserman, the studio executive, rather than being his real choices. The director felt that the stars were ill-suited to their roles, while their salaries of $750,000 took a big part of the film’s $5 million budget.
As she was much in demand, Andrews was only available for a short period of time, and that meant that the production of the film was rushed, although Hitchcock was not yet satisfied with the script.
The shooting schedule lasted three months, including a two-week hiatus while Paul Newman recuperated from a chin infection.
When Newman, a Method actor, consulted Hitchcock about his character’s motivations, the director replied: “motivation is your salary.”
Well… there’s some fun shenanigans at the end, but it… it just doesn’t work? Sure, it’s Hitchcock — there’s a bunch of scenes here that are exciting. I can just imagine how great it would have been with Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant…
Now I’m watching the bonus bits on the blu ray: Hitch had reservations about the scripts, and sent it off to some script doctors who reported back that the basic plot is good (it is), but that the dialogue “is flat as has no sparkle”. Exactly. This could have been so much fun!
But Hitch didn’t have time to revise the script due to Andrews’ tight schedule.
The guy doing the narration on the bonus bits is easy to hate, though. “Good stories are structured in three acts.” Fuck you, asshole. Nothing has fucked up movie making as the idea of the three act structure, which has become rote and repugnant.