Plot: What’s it about?
Professor Michael Armstrong (Paul Newman) is a famous scientist attending a Physicist’s Convention in Copenhagen with his fiancΘe, Sarah Sherman (Julie Andrews). Sarah finds out accidentally that her fiancΘe has been lying to her and is secretly planning to leave for Berlin. Surprisingly, she follows him and ends up becoming his assistant. Upon arriving, Sarah realizes that he has defected from the U.S. to Germany because of a project the government cancelled that he was secretly working on. Now he is going to team up with the German scientists on building an anti-nuclear device. Or is he? Due to a number of circumstances, the Germans realize Armstrong’s true purpose, and the chase is now on.
This film has another one Hitchcock’s plots built around a spy. Everyone knows that a spy is a hero in his own country, but a villain when on foreign ground. This was one trip Armstrong didn’t want his fiancΘe along. Unfortunately, she shouldn’t have ever followed him to Berlin for a number of reasons, or should he have never lied to her? Due to either one’s control, they had to plan an unexpected escape out of Germany. Through contacts, an escape was planned for ahead of time, but not involving an unexpected assistant also! The suspense greatens as this film goes along in this action packed Cold War thriller behind the Iron Curtain!
Several may not have realized that this was Hitchcock’s 50th production, and who would have guessed it would have involved a spy? I would have, and why not, since this was “the master of the unexpected.” This movie had great drama with love and danger, and danger and love. There was no reason for Hitchcock to get away from what made him famous and film his 50th production about something other than a suspenseful thriller, such as The Trouble with Harry, a dark comedy. It’s difficult for a Producer to film movie after movie based upon what’s made him famous as well as successful, and keep a captive audience every time. A few may not have, but Torn Curtain is not one of them, and I give Hitchcock great credit for this film and his 50th production.
Video: How does it look?
As several of his others, Torn Curtain is viewed in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. In comparison to some of his others, the picture is overall pretty good, but far from perfection compared to recent titles. I liked what I saw, and as I’ve mentioned in previous titles, it’s an accomplishment compared to it’s first release in 1966 obviously. The DVD picture overall, well, it’s acceptable.
Audio: How does it sound?
Although I was hoping this disc was at least Dolby Digital 5.1, it wasn’t. You can hear it in the Dolby Digital Mono format. I would have enjoyed this action packed thriller more if it had the multiple channel distribution causing it to be a little more suspenseful, not that it was overwhelming to begin with. Compared to Hitchcock’s other reformatted titles, it’s ranks right up there, or down, with the rest of them.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Since they were released at the same time, Torn Curtain includes the same special features as The Trouble with Harry which is a much improvement to earlier releases. You can expect to see things such as an original documentary of the making of this film, as well as production notes, and theatrical trailers. Overall, another good selection of special features including how Hitchcock’s creative mind got the idea for the plot of this movie, a newspaper headline.