Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Torn Curtain

I recently revisited Alfred Hitchcock's Torn Curtain. It is not his best film, though it is good mind you. This film was put together in an extraordinary fashion, as is the case with most Hitchcock pictures, but there are a few sequences in particular that I don't think people remember as being good. Or as good as they are. The first one I want to point out isn't exactly a sequence but the first act of the picture. Julie Andrews has absolutely no idea what the hell is going on and neither does the audience, and for most movies that would suck royally, but it works incredibly well in this picture. In the first scenes, Hitchcock sets a tone and direction for the movie that simply never pays off and that's the pay off. That he sets up one kind of movie and continues to turn it on it's side is an amazing thing to go through, especially when it's been put together so delicately. You think you're going to see this picture about Paul Newman and Julie Andrews' relationship, and you do, but not the way the first scene would have you beleive.

Another sequence is the scene in the farmhouse where Paul Newman and the country girl are trying to kill the Security agent that has tailed Paul Newman. They have to do it silently so the cab driver outside doesn't hear and it's frightening how disturbing the sequence is... And the shot where the country girl puts the knife in the guy... Jesus Christ. It's amazing. Watch it again and it will tell you alot about silent filmmaking...well, mostly silent.

The last sequence is the "math secret" business between Paul Newman and the Russian scientist. Hitchcock actually uses math as a McGuffin. What formulas are they scratching out on that blackboard? Who cares? But Hitch manages to make it interesting. Think about how hard it would be to photgraph two men comparing math equations on a blackboard and make it an edge of your seat sequence. It sounds impossible. But Hitchcock doesn't seem to think twice about it.

In short, Torn Curtain is worth another look.

If you people like hearing me rant about how great old movies are, let me know, I'll keep doing it. But it seems as though nobody cares about anything we have to say unless it's politically motivated.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate informed appraisal of art without political bias. And I feel rewarded glimpsing the architecture or rather this fluidity to create good story.