Torn Curtain

Screening on Film
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
With Paul Newman, Julie Andrews, Lila Kedrova.
US, 1966, 35mm, color, 128 min.

Torn Curtain finds Hitchcock returning to the spy thriller at the height of the Cold War. Eschewing the gadgetry and sexual innuendo of the James Bond films, Hitchcock instead crafts a lean, tense portrayal of the quest to rescue the formula for an anti-missile system from behind the Iron Curtain. At the same time, in true Hitchcockian fashion, this quest also serves as a test for the relationship between an American spy and his wife. While the film has never achieved classic status, several of its sequences remain striking examples of the master’s ability to construct heart-stopping set pieces, perhaps most famously in the ambivalent depiction, in real time, of a brutal murder committed out of expedience by the film’s hero.

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