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Flick Buddies: Torn Curtain (1966)

Steve here:

Torn Curtain (1966)

Torn Curtain is a Cold War thriller about the presumed defection of an American phyicist (Paul Newman) and his secretary/assistant/fiancee (Julie Andrews) to East Germany. Newman’s character is apparently bitter about having his missile-defense project killed by the Pentagon, so he’s taking his toys and going to the DDR. Or is he?!?!?!?

Torn Curtain

There’s a lot done right in Torn Curtain. I thought Newman’s grappling fight to the death with one of the agents assigned to him (Gromek) was ugly and prolonged (unlike most Hollywood fights) — and very effective. And the German Commies were played as credible foils – not omniscient, but not blundering fools, either. It was weird to see Germans be the enemy without them being Nazis. In the end, I didn’t love this movie mostly because Newman and Andrews have zero chemistry. ZERO. None. Zip. Nothing. Nada. I didn’t care about them or their relationship in anything more than the most abstract sense.

Thing I liked most: The death of Gromek. The incredibly slow “bus-chase” scene where Newman and Andrews attempt to bluff their way from Leipzig to Berlin with the aid of some sympathizers. The wide cast of supporting actors did a great job.

Things I didn’t like: Did I mention that Newman and Andrews had zero chemistry? Did he really save the day by causing chaos in a movie theater by yelling, “Fire!!”?? One of the most climactic scenes was two guys at a blackboard.

Things that are still with me: Newman was just too damned good looking to be a physicist. A biochemist, for sure, but never a physicist. Have you ever met one of those guys?

Grade: B-  Good overall supporting performances undone by leaden lead chemistry.

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About stevebetz

If you have the martini, you can't have the scotch.

10 responses to “Flick Buddies: Torn Curtain (1966)

  1. This is good. I think I would like to see this one just because of the subject matter and the actors. I can imagine there would be no chemistry there. Julie Andrews will somehow always have a mary poppinish quality to her. Funny on the biochemists. Not sure I ever met one.

    • stevebetz

      It’s funny, in the first scene, the two of them are under the covers, and I was all like “Sister Maria!!!” :O

      Hey, wait — I’M a biochemist!! 😉

  2. You are the very definition of eclectic. Just imagine if Joanne had played Julie’s character. Ka-pow!

  3. marymtf

    Steve, I love Torn Curtain and watch it whenever it’s on. I liked all the things you lked about it but I also liked many of the things you didn’t like about the film. I also appreciated the unHollywood type realism when it came to the killing of Gromek (very Hitchcok, the sadist) but then again, to be consistent, I didn’t need to see the chemistry between Newman and Mary Poppins to understand their relationship. Theirs is just another kind (also unHollywood like). I think is preferable if you consider what happens once the chemistry dies, usually after the first child arrives. And ps read the lyrics to Noel Coward’s ‘Don’t let’s be beastly to the Germans’ if you want to understand the post wart mindset.

    • stevebetz

      Marymtf — thanks for the comment! I really appreciate any movie that can break out the Hollywood-mindset — especially these days where so much seems so similar.

      • marymtf

        Steve, you seem to like some of the same movies that I do. Funny, but I first discovered you when you were Freshly Pressed and offering up a Lonsdale. My favourite drink (although I haven’t had it for years now) is Calvados. I was going through an Erich Maria Remarque phase at the time. His characters on All Quiet on the Western Front (I think) were drinking it, so I went out and bought myself a bottle. Yum.

      • stevebetz

        I like Calvados as well. It makes an interesting twist in a sidecar.

        I think this movie club will give me the chance to watch several movies that I wouldn’t normally have seen or haven’t seen in a long, long time. Clearly, this month is Hitchcock!

  4. Pingback: Flick Buddies: North By Northwest (1959) « Flick Buddies

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