Monday, June 11, 2012

Torn Curtain


(Alfred Hitchcock / 1966)

Despite being pretty weak Hitchcock (unfortunately coming off the winning streak of Vertigo, North By Northwest, Psycho, and The Birds) there are still magnificently constructed moments that make this an essential viewing. The farm sequence with the protracted and grisly murder of Gromek, Paul Newman and Julie Andrew's performances, and the unnerving depiction of Communist East Germany as a pretty normal place not unlike Hitchcock's America (the difference being the police stand in for organized crime and secret societies). Another interesting element is that of the despair of the communist subjects rendered in typical capitalist fashion: the only real complaints seem to regard the lack or quality of consumer products (the eccentric Polish woman and her cigarettes).

Mostly the film suffers from a lack of perspective. While the dual stars do well in their roles, the film becomes uneven when it jumps from one viewpoint to the other, breaking up the singular worldview that is key to the success of late Hitchcock's masterworks (even the ones where he effectively pulls off this balance).

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