Friday, October 21, 2016

Torn Curtain (Herrmann, Addison, 1966)

     The film Torn Curtain has the notorious reputation of being the film which shattered the collaborative partnership between Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann.  In short, Herrmann disregarded Hitchcock's wishes and Hitchcock fired him (full story here).  The film was eventually scored by John Addison with a much lighter touch.  Fortunately Herrmann's original score has been recorded a few times (Elmer Bernstein's recording notably being the first), with the most recent being the Varese Sarabande rerecording conducted by Joel McNeely.  With a little bit of guesswork, it's fairly easy to place Herrmann's unused cues into the film sequences for which they were written and in the analysis below I've included time codes for placement of the McNeely-conducted tracks.  Not to demean Addison's score, but by watching the film and cueing up the Herrmann McNeely tracks at the indicated times, the film has a much more "classic" Hitchcock feel.

     Plot-wise, a scientist (Michael Armstrong) is on his way to a science conference when he announces to his fiancee Sarah that he must abandon the conference and take a side trip.  She follows him and they end up in East Germany, behind the Iron Curtain.  The scientist "defects" with a public announcement, but in reality is in Germany only to spy on a fellow scientist.  The film's midpoint climax comes when Michael is forced to kill his German "handler" Gromek with his bare hands (unscored in the final film, Herrmann apparently originally wrote suspenseful textures for the later stages of the fight climax).  Eventually, the German authorities discover the subterfuge and Michael and Sarah must race to escape from behind the Iron Curtain, with the help of an "underground" rebel bus line organized by the "Pi" resistance group.

Start Time Trk Title Film Sequence
0:00 1 Prelude Main title over ghostly suspense headshots and colorful skies, dissolve to ship in Norway.
2:00 2 The Ship (Cue from appearance of "OSTERFJORD, NORWAY" title) 
Passengers on the ship suffer from the cold temperature.
6:03 3 The Radiogram (Cue from opening cabin door) 
Michael receives a mysterious message.  Downstairs he writes a reply while dodging Manfred, a German scientist.
8:09 4 The Hotel (Cue from overhead street shot) 
The couple arrive at the Copenhagen hotel and get comfortable in their rooms.  Sarah picks up a phone call for Michael from a bookstore.
9:03 5 The Phone (Cue after "Michael, it's some bookshop for you")
The phone call is cut off.  Michael tells Sarah to take a stroll without him.  The bookstore calls back and Sarah gets the address.  She goes downstairs and is accosted by Manfred.  She tries to get directions to the bookstore but has language difficulties.
11:15 6 The Bookstore (Cue from Manfred taking the note from Sarah)
Manfred appears and accompanies Sarah to the bookstore.  She receives the book with a warning and then returns to Michael.
13:52 7 The Book (Cue from Sarah seeing Michael getting documents from the hotel desk clerk)
In the bathroom stall, the book reveals a clue to Michael's next contact - "Pi".
15:36 8 Valse Lente (Cue from wide shot of outdoor cafe)
Source music: The couple have a meal and Sarah asks Michael why he's being secretive.  Michael tells her that he has to go to Stockholm on a special mission.  Michael refuses to have her accompany him to Stockholm.
18:23 9 The Travel Desk (Cue from Sarah going through the revolving hotel lobby door)
At the somewhat inattentive travel desk, Sarah finds out Michael is flying to East Berlin, not Stockholm.
20:28 10 The Blurring (Cue from "Hello, Michael")
Michael sees Sarah on the plane and tells her that she has to go back as soon as they land.
32:28 11 Hotel Berlin (Cue from wide shot of Michael's German escort cars approaching the Berlin Hotel)
The entourage arrives at their Iron Curtain hotel.  Michael quietly visits Sarah's room to try to explain why he is defecting.
34:37 12 Sarah (Cue from "Michael, take me home")
Sarah and Michael talk, and Sarah is still stunned at the turn of events.
35:43 13 Dawn (Cue from morning fade in)
In the morning Sarah wakes up alone, and receives a visit from Manfred.
36:59 14 Gromek (Cue from Michael exiting from elevator)
Michael sneaks out of the hotel, and Gromek follows.  Michael takes a bus to the Berlin Museum.
40:25 15 The Farmhouse (Cue from Michael leaving through the Museum's back door)
Michael takes a cab to the farmhouse.  When a woman opens the door, Michael scratches the "Pi" symbol in the dirt with his foot.  She has Michael go towards a man on a tractor.
49:32 16 The Killing (The farm woman's knife breaks off in Gromek's shoulder)
As Gromek wrestles with Michael in the farmhouse, the woman stabs Gromek.  Gromek fights on and tries to strangle Michael.  They drag him to the oven and asphyxiate him.
52:24 17 The Body (Cue from shortly before Michael gets up from the oven of death)
Michael and the woman recover from the fight and discuss the disposing of Gromek's body.  They notice the cab driver outside.
55:10 18 The Street (Cue from Michael on the street)
Michael is met by security agents on the way back to the hotel.  He is driven to Gerhardt's office.
56:39 19 The Toast ("Miss Sherman, may I offer you a cognac?")
Everyone has drinks in Gerhardt's office to celebrate Sarah's decision to stay in Germany with Michael.  Gromek is reported missing.

20 The Photos (Unused scene)

21 The Sausage (Unused scene)
59:20 22 The Fall Michael is tripped by a woman (Koska) who is his contact for escape.
1:03:09 23 The Cab Driver (Cue from tight shot of Gromek notice)
The cab driver realizes that Gromek is missing and reports to the police.
1:10:33 24 The Hill (Cue from medium shot of torn Michael as Manfred talks to Sarah)
Michael tells Sarah the truth about his mission.
1:12:44 25 The Search (Cue directly after kissing scene)
Police search the farmhouse.
1:19:42 26 Discovery (Cue with digging sequence)
Gromek's motorcycle and body are found.  Security forces approach the hospital where Koska and Sarah wait for Michael.
1:20:44 27 The Blackboard (Cue from Michael and Professor Lindt walking in the corridor, "I wonder what happened to our security man?")
Michael and Professor Lindt discuss weapons tech and enter Lindt's workroom.  Lindt erases the blackboard and gives the chalk to Michael.
1:26:37 28 The Formula (Michael says "Ah..." after Lindt slams down the chalk)
Michael works at the blackboard and tricks Lindt into revealing his secret formula.
1:28:00 29 The Corridor (Cue from bustling corridor shot)
Michael evades the guards at Lindt's school.  He meets Koska and Sarah and they prepare to escape.
1:29:30 30 The Bicycles Michael and Sarah bicycle to the rendezvous.  They board the PI escape bus and are disguised.
1:32:44 31 The Bus (Cue from the Pi leader seeing the roadblock through the front windshield)
The Pi bus is stopped and searched by a guard.  Their helper Jacobi successfully hides Michael and Sarah.  (This is kind of a guess, but seems to fit)

John Addison score:
1 Main Title Main title over ghostly suspense headshots and colorful skies, dissolve to ship in Norway.
2 Love Theme Michael and Sarah in bed on the ship, and when they arrive at the hotel.
3 Behind The Curtain Sarah is rebuffed by Michael at dinner, and soon finds out that Michael is secretly going behind the Iron Curtain.
4 Introduction To Pi Michael receives the secret message from Pi in the book.
5 Premonitions Of Trouble Variations of suspense music used throughout.
6 Variations On The Love Theme
7 Bus Theme Variations
8 Sarah Alone Paul speaks to Sarah alone after the press conference.  Sarah asks to be taken home.
9 The Murder Of Gromek The cab driver realizes that Gromek is missing and reports to the police.  The police investigate the farmhouse.
10 Michael And Sarah, Alone Of The Hill Michael tells Sarah the truth about his mission.
11 Escape On The Pi Bus Michael and Sarah board the Pi bus.  They encounter a roadblock inspection, bandits, and eventually get escorted by soldiers.
12 End Title The escape basket reveals its empty contents (Michael and Sarah have already escaped).

Talk on the Wild Side, Elmer Bernstein remembers his friend Bernard Herrmann (2003)
Herrmann and Hitchcock, The Torn Curtain (Steve Vertlieb, 2002)

1 comment:

  1. Cheers Ed. We miss you in the The Daily Beethoven blog, hope you are well :)