Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

01 March 2008

Torn Curtain, dir, Alfred Hitchcock (1966)

NIKKI says:
Steve was in the mood for Hitchcock, I was well-rested and happy to choose something a bit meatier than those just-keep-me-awake horror screeners. So, we went with Torn Curtain. Neither of us had seen it, and it's been too long, for me, between Newman films.

I'm a bit torn with this one. I very much enjoyed the film, and especially its performances. But the final half of the film was very weighty, not nearly as fast-paced and exciting as the first half. Once we knew what Michael was up to, we just had to wait until the wrong people found out and chased him around a bit.

When the suspense began to involve so many people, the film really lost its tenseness. Early on, when Michael is followed first to Berlin, then to the farmhouse, everything was taut -- it was Newman in peril. But suddenly when Michael and his wife are fleeing the bad guys in a bus full of people, and then when they're in the post office with a weird woman, then we're in the ballet theatre with a big audience, suddenly the focus is removed from them, and I felt far too separated from them at a point when I should have been right with them. If that makes sense.

Still, bits here rank up there with my favourite Hitchcock moments, like the scene in the farmhouse when the young woman comes to Newman's aid. That was horrific. I also enjoyed the ballet sequence, just because it was so freakin' weird. Paul was great, as always, and even had a chance to the romantic lead in the early parts of this film, which is something he doesn't do a lot. I think I may request a Newman Week for our project. This was okay -- makes me want to watch more Hitchcocks I've missed.


STEVE says:
Torn Curtain kicks off a week, not only of movies neither of us hasn't seen before, but also a celebration of Alfred Hitchcock. We've decided that the horror screeners we've been watching were just too painful to continue, at least right away, and how can you go wrong with Hitch?

Unfortunately, the answer to that is "By starting your week with Torn Curtain".

For the first hour, as Nikki mentioned, it was classic Hitch. Intrigue, spy stuff, murder - the self-defense killing of Gromek will stay with me forever. But after we reached mid-point, the movie became plodding and tedious. The scene on the bus was awkward - everyone speaking in German was a brilliant move, as it kept most of us as in the dark as Newman and Andrews. But the belligerent woman on the bus served no purpose but to have someone repeat everything in English, even though the woman was German and would have understood the exchange in the first place.

Much of the 2nd half could have been lifted out and never missed. The Countess Kuchinska bit, for example. Sad as this woman was, she did nothing but stretch the running time of the movie. All she had to do was take Newman and Andrews to a post office. Why the layover at the coffee house? So she could get them to agree to sponsor her move to America - which never happens, anyway, because she's caught after the ultra-tedious post office scene.

Hitch's MacGuffin this time around was a defensive weapon against offensive nuclear attacks. That's all we need to know - usually. But this time out, Hitch had Newman and Professor Lindt battling equations from this weapon on a blackboard - none of which meant anything to anyone at home. The purpose of the scene was for Newman to get information from Lindt without really giving him any in return, and indeed it worked. But it went on and on, with each of them writing equations, the other arguing against, and yadda yadda yadda. By Hitch's own admission, the MacGuffin is an object around which the plot revolves, and as to what that object specifically is, "The audience don't care!" But when you present us with a scene like this, we have to care, or we become bored.

No, this one didn't do very much for me, although Newman's performance was top notch - even if Hitch himself was not.


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