|TORN CURTAIN (1966)|
|Time: 128 mins.|
Genre: Suspense/Political Drama
SYNOPSIS An American scientist publicly defects to East Germany as part of a cloak and dagger mission to find the solution for a formula resin and then has to figure out a plan to escape back to the West.
BOTTOM LINE: Hitchcock takes on the Commies in this spy thriller that's not quite as intriguing or exciting as one expects from the Master of Suspense. Newman stars as an American scientist we're supposed to believe is defecting to East Germany because his anti-missile project has been cancelled by the U.S. government. His fianceé, played by Andrews, gums up his plans by following him behind the Iron Curtain, even though she thinks he's a traitor. The core "mystery" of the film is supposed to be his intentions. Is he really turning red or is he still true blue? Hitch has spun movie gold from plots thinner than this, however, miscasting and over-earnest direction sink this flick right from the start. Newman is too all-American to be accepted as a traitor, nevermind how unbelievable he is as a scientist. Since we know he's not defecting for real, there's very little interest in the progression of events. Hitch throws in the usual secrets, betrayals and close calls that add some spice to the mix, but they feel more contrived than exciting. There are some truly hairy moments the murder in the farmhouse, the final theater sequence but the rest of the film is so plodding it barely raises the blood pressure. Newman and Andrews are great actors, they're just in the wrong film. Their inherent honesty ties Hitchcock's hands, leaving him no place to hide his wicked intentions. One to see only if you're a fan of Newman or have caught all of Hitch's better works.