Thursday, January 18, 2007

Torn Curtain (1966)

Hitchcock! Hitchcock! Hitchcock!

"I think if we do it quickly we can eat them before they fire their guns!"

Genre: Mystery Thriller

Starring: Paul Newman (The Hustler; Cool Hand Luke) Julie Andrews (Victor/Victoria; The Princess Diaries)

Directed By: Alfred Hitchcock (The Pleasure Garden; The Lady Vanishes)

Overview: A rocket scientist defects to East Germany to finish his research on a missile defence system. When his fiancée secretly follows him, she adds a few too many complication to his plans.

Acting: Typecasting sucks. From Mary Poppins to The Sound Of Music you got yourself a double-edged career-nailer. You nail yourself into the roles of 'Singing Goodness Personified', but at the same time you're hammering the nails into that cross of predetermination. I doubt you'll ever see Pesci in a feel-good musical, and you know what, I think he's fine with that. Sadly even me with my well-developed right brain cannot pierce the logical defiance of these previous roles of Julie Andrews. I can't put her in this place of intrigue. I can't see her playing secret spy in Berlin because every time she opens her mouth with her eyebrows raised I'm expecting her to sing about how the hills are alive with the sound of goose-stepping... no matter how awesome Paul Newman is.
Rating: 7

Cinematography: Hitchcock's a dumbass for using crappy sets even as late as 1966. STOP IT. Maybe I'm too much a fan of the Dogme Project, but there's a minimal accepted amount of quality that must be expected from a Hollywood production at this point in film history. With a single scene, Hitchcock manages to kick a hole in my enjoyment by recreating a set up on a hill, the scene where Paul Newman explains a secret to his wife. In films like Suspicion and The Trouble With Harry, it was quaint, almost endearing. At this point I'm sick of crappy painted backdrops, especially when Hitch does nothing to make the rest of the movie escape the budding style trends of the disco 70s. Ack.
Rating: 6

Script: Maybe I waited too long to review this one too but I recall nothing special. One thing I've come to expect of Hitchcock, is that scripts aren't usually his strong suit.
Rating: 7

Plot: Subplot-introducing minor character studies of weirdoes do nothing for me unless it's David Lynch doing it. The crazy Berliner lady (seen below) did nothing more than lengthen the story, try to add a (failed) comedic element, and was most likely nothing more than a healthy hunk of propaganda, used to show how people hate living in East Berlin, and how communism drives people crazy. Man, It thought Hitchcock had more integrity, but he seems to sell out often. Now as for the story it's pretty involving and has a nice twist, but I wouldn't say it's worth hemmin' and hawin' about.
Rating: 7

Mood: The best part of the whole thing is when Paul tries to escape from his 'bodyguard' (read: tail) to meet a contact named Pi. The unfolding of the perfect timing of suspense and adrenaline-pumping action that ensues is very reminiscent of the crop-duster scene of North By Northwest. It's slow, it's messy, there's threats everywhere to everyone, and you don't quite know where it's going to go. At the same time, Hitch knows how to make it just long enough without getting boring. This scene proves that this is a Hitchcock film, but it was really the only moment worth mention. That my friend, is crap.
Rating: 6

Ack! Then there's the scene with the crazy histrionic German lady! Issues!

Overall Rating: 64% (Yeah, This Needs Mending)

Aftertaste: I couldn't get over how much Paul Newman stole the show on this one. He's amazing, and it's the first time Girlfriend of Squish ever saw him, or as she referred to him as 'Oh the salad dressing guy?!' Heehee!