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 U.S., where he is interviewed by U.S. Agent Michael Nordstrom. The defector reveals that a French spy ring codenamed "Topaz" has been passing N.A.T.O. secrets to the Russians. Michael calls in his French friend and counterpart Andre Devereaux to expose the spies.Written by
Col Needham <email@example.com>
Leon Uris wrote the first draft of the screenplay, but Sir Alfred Hitchcock declared it unshootable at the last minute, and called in Samuel A. Taylor (writer of Vertigo (1958)) to re-write it from scratch. Some scenes were written just a few hours before they were shot. See more »
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 »
In an earlier version Andre' Deveraux and Granville, the Russian spy, agree to have an old fashioned duel with pistols in an empty stadium. But before the duel begins, Granville is shot in the back by a Russian sniper to silence him. This finale was deleted and a new one shot, because early audiences didn't like it. These scenes were considered lost for many years, until director Richard Franklin discovered that they had been lying for years in a can in Hitchcock's garage and were given by his daughter to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences after her father's death. See more »
One aspect of "Topaz" that should be kept in mind is that while American and British critics were belittling Hitchcock as a "mere entertainer," the French New Wave critics, led by Francois Truffaut, were lionizing him and Truffaut even published a book-long interview with Hitchcock published in 1967.
Hitchcock hadn't worked in years and was desperately trying to get another movie going when Universal showed him the book "Topaz" -- about spies in the French government, with a French protagonist and climactic scenes in Paris. I think that Hitchcock may have -- unwisely -- decided to do "Topaz" so he could do a "French picture."
There are some great individual scenes in Topaz -- the opening defection in Copenhagen, the suspenseful mission to get secrets from the Cubans in Harlem's Hotel Theresa (Hitchcock in Harlem?!); the hero's dangerous mission into Cuba and the death of his key contact there.
But Hitchcock really didn't like making "Topaz," he was bored and ill and resentful (Universal had killed a project called "Frenzy" -- not to be confused with the 1972 film he made of that name -- and Hitchcock was bitter about it.)
So we end up with a very half-hearted Hitchcock movie with a few good scenes, no real stars, THREE failed endings (all available to see on the DVD), and an attempt to "make nice with my French friends."
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