Torn Curtain (1966)
Not as much pissing and moaning on this one, it was pretty good. The first one I’ve seen so far that was a “Cold War” spy movie. You can tell the difference when they’re worried about Communists in Germany.
It has some fun defector moments, some fun spy moments and classic Hitchcock intrigue and suspense. In true form, our hero is cold and emotionless and mostly unlikeable. I thought Paul Newman did a great job portraying that character although there are not many professors with a face like that and a body like that which made things slightly humorous. The back and forth espionage between East and West with their academics and military secrets was pretty spot on I thought. We aren’t quite into the regular anti-hero fair of later years so even when you think a Hitchcock protagonist is delightfully sinister – it always turns out you were wrong and there’s some ready explanation that magically makes their misdeeds seem fair and good.
It was definitely a move away from the relationship between man and woman being the center pivot point to the international politics being the driving force and the human interest piece swept along in its wake.
It’s also interesting that we are still getting movies where the spy is simply someone with some asset or talent who can be used. Someone in the right place at the right time is a spy, not some career ex-soldier who has transitioned into the dirty deeds department. I suppose movies attempted to parallel the shift away from human intelligence into computers and paramilitary adventurism over the years but maybe a nice retro take would be one of a large cohort of normal citizens working together in a carefully overseen way to each do a small piece of a longer campaign of missions. No one will notice the death by a thousand cuts but in today’s over-saturation of flash mob media, it would certainly resonate.
Notice again that although Newman is our prop hero, Julie Andrews is actually the more accessible to the audience and quickly earns the audience support that Newman sometimes lacks.