A French intelligence agent becomes embroiled in the Cold War politics first with uncovering the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and then back to France to break up an international Russian spy ring.
A high ranking Russian official defects to the United States, where he is interviewed by US agent Michael Nordstrom. The defector reveals that a French spy ring codenamed "Topaz" has been passing NATO secrets to the Russians. Michael calls in his French friend and counterpart Andre Devereaux to expose the spies. Written by
Col Needham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Kusenovs arrive in the US in a USAF C-135 marked "Military Airlift Command". The movie is set in 1962 but that organization did not come into existence until 1966. The aircraft should have been marked "Military Air Transport Service". See more »
Opening credits prologue: Somewhere in this crowd is a high Russian official who disagrees with his government's display of force and what it threatens. Very soon his conscience will force him to attempt an escape while apparently on a vacation with his family. Copenhagen, Denmark Nineteen Hundred Sixty-two See more »
Topaz was the third from the last of the great Alfred Hitchcock's films and in those last few films Hitch eschewed using big American box office names. No doubt he'd come to the conclusion that his was the biggest box office name on the credits.
But if the leading and many of the supporting players were not known to American audiences they were certainly known to French audiences. Dany Robin, Frederick Stafford, Phillippe Noiret, Michel Subor, Michel Piccoli all have had substantial careers in the French cinema.
Topaz is certainly an international thriller with the action going from Copenhagen, to Harlem, to Cuba, and finally Paris. Only Cuba was not shot on actual location for obvious reasons.
The film is based on a spy novel surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis. A Russian defector whose defection with his family is very nicely shot in Copenhagen hints at some major problems coming our way in the Pearl of the Antillies. Our biggest problem though is that because of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion, we've got no real intelligence on the ground in Cuba. What to do?
Well if you're John Forsythe there's been a reason you've been cultivating the French for years. He goes to Frederick Stafford of French intelligence and asks him to find out what's happening in Cuba.
History in 1962 bares witness to what was happening in Cuba at that time, but also Stafford is concerned the Russians have a spy real high up in the French government, code name, Topaz.
There's a romantic angle here to, so very French. Stafford makes use of his mistress, a Cuban girl played by Karin Dor who wife Dany Robin has reasons to be suspicious of. Then again she's not sitting home waiting for the grass to grow under her feet. She's having a fling with Michel Piccoli who is a friend of her husband.
International Geopolitics and romantic affairs are all tied together in this novel which Hitchcock serves up with his usual touch.
What a sad end both the leads in this film had. Frederick Stafford was killed in a plane crash in 1979 and Dany Robin and her husband died in an apartment house fire in 1995. Truly a cursed film.
Besides those mentioned look for good performances by John Vernon as a Castro aide and wannabe and from Roscoe Lee Browne who's an operator for French Intelligence in Harlem. I kid you not.
It's not one of Alfred Hitchcock's best films, but Topaz is entertaining enough and Hitchcock fans won't be disappointed.
22 of 26 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?