19 July 2022

Copenhagen, Denmark

The Cold War between the capitalist West and the communist East dominated geopolitics in the 1960s. Stories about diplomats defecting inspired Alfred Hitchcock. He made two consecutive movies on this topic, both partially situated in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. Topaz was released in 1969 and TORN CURTAIN three years earlier.

Torn Curtain, 1:43:33
The story centers on Professor Michael Armstrong (Paul Newman), a physicist who in 1965 attends a conference in Copenhagen with his assistant and fiancée Sarah Sherman (Julie Andrews). When he unexpectedly takes the plane to East Berlin, she follows him only to discover that he has defected. Although the movie is set entirely in Europe, most of the filming was done in California. The first day of shooting was 18 October 1965 at the Universal studios in Los Angeles.

Filming ended on 16 February 1966. A local camera team in Germany made background projections that Hitchcock was not satisfied with. However, due to financial reasons, he was unable to send an American team.

Hitchcock did go to Copenhagen himself, but without his expensive lead actors. If necessary, they were filmed in front of a background projection. Hitchcock stayed with his wife Alma in the luxurious Hotel d'Angleterre and was photographed on the balcony. The building in the background is the Kongelige Teater (Royal Theatre) which, like the hotel, is located on the Kongens Nytorv (King's New Square). We obviously did not have access to the hotel but were able to take pictures under the balcony.

Alfred and Alma Hitchcock, Hotel d'Angleterre,
Copenhagen, 1966
Kongens Nytorv, Copenhagen, 29 June 2022
Alfred Hitchcock, Hotel d'Angleterre, Copenhagen, 1966
Royal Theatre, Kongens Nytorv,
Copenhagen, 29 June 2022

The exterior of the Hotel d'Angleterre is also briefly seen in the film because Michael Armstrong and Sarah Sherman are staying there. All indoor shots as well as the entrance were filmed in the studio. During our visit, the entire square was closed off because of the Tour de France that started on the first of July in Copenhagen. The photo of the hotel could only be taken from the street next to it.

Torn Curtain, 0:08:16
Hotel d'Angleterre, Copenhagen, 29 June 2022

A few seconds earlier, an overview of Copenhagen can be seen with the Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard in the middle. The dome to the left belongs to the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek art museum. The tall tower of the Town Hall can be seen more prominent in Topaz. Hitchcock's camera must have been on a tall building, our photo was taken from the boulevard.

Torn Curtain, 0:08:11
 Hans Christian Andersen Boulevard, Copenhagen, 28 June 2022

Michael asks Sarah to pick up a book from Elmo Book Store on Kanalgade 14. This address does not exist, in the film the bookstore is on Nyhavn. This more than 300 year old canal with its colourful houses is one of the most famous streets in Copenhagen. Nyhavn is only a five minute walk away from Hotel d'Angleterre. In the more than 50 years that have passed since filming, some houses have been given another colour, but the Hong Kong bar is still located at number 7 and the Nyhavn 17 restaurant is still at number 17.

Torn Curtain, 0:11:28
Nyhavn, Copenhagen, 29 June 2022

Michael and Sarah have lunch on the terrace of restaurant Nimb in Tivoli Gardens, the amusement park in the middle of the city. The brasserie is part of a larger complex that includes a hotel, restaurants and bars. The yellow replica of the Eiffel Tower in the pond in front of the restaurant was a temporary addition, again on the occasion of the Tour de France.

Torn Curtain, 0:15:36
Nimb restaurant, Tivoli, Copenhagen, 28 June 2022
Torn Curtain, 0:15:39
Nimb restaurant, Tivoli, Copenhagen, 28 June 2022
Torn Curtain, 0:15:50
Nimb restaurant, Tivoli, Copenhagen, 28 June 2022
Torn Curtain, 0:17:33
Nimb restaurant, Tivoli, Copenhagen, 28 June 2022

Photos Alfred and Alma Hitchcock © John Stæhr
Screenshots © Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions/Universal Pictures