Frequently Asked Questions
Chicago Tribune, Tuesday, March 18, 1969, p. 15:
TOWER TICKER, by Robert Wiedrich
*Hollywood---The authenticity which Alfred Hitchcock can achieve with a paint brush, a brace of huge electric fans, and an experienced imagination is really something to see.
For, with those tools of the movie making trade and quite a few others, Hitchcock has managed to create on the Universal Pictures backlot here what international tensions, petty politics, and Fidel Castro prevented him from filming on location.
So, stout fellow that he is, Hitchcock went ahead with his artists and technicians and reproduced on crowded sets and in a huge parking lot, such scenes as a reviewing stand in Havana's main plaza and a market place so lifelike you can almost smell the chickens being plucked.
Actor John Vernon, who plays a Fidel-type character in Hitchcock's production of an espionage thriller, "Topaz," was standing in fatigues and pistol belt with that lovely revolutionary widow, Karin Dor, beside him when Hitchcock ordered the big electric fans turned on.
Exactly in accord with the script of this tale of the Cuban missle crisis, the banners began to flap from their staffs while a crowd of authentic refugees hired as extras started shuffling about the reviewing stand as a background for the priciplas. Meanwhile, Frederick Stafford, who plays the French diplomat hero, stood below in the crowd, waiting to be fingered as the man suspected of swiping state secrets.
*As the scene was shot, high winds did their duty with the flags, but in the process caused rapid incineration of the dictator's cigar, an English brand which represented the only deviation from authenticity. You just can't get Havana cigars these days and besides, we hear they're so bad even Fidel wouldn't smoke one.
Hitchcock, for some unknown reason, was using a folding chair with the name of Jack Hildyard, the cinematographer, painted on it while two bearing Hitchcock's name were empty. But soon he began to wander about the set, his hands shoved into the pants pockets of his rumpled suit, his eyes alert for any flaw in this manufactured world of reality. Occasionally, he would pause to consult J.P. Mathieu, the Cuban refugee who serves as advisor for "Topaz" and who once dated Fidel's sister Emma, now an exile in Mexico City.
Later, in the shade of his mobile trailer office, Hitchcock told us he'd dispatched an English photographer to Havana three weeks ago to make still shots of buildings, other landmarks, and even a Russian freighter at anchor to achieve more realism on the set. No American could have done the same, he said. There have been a few other pitfalls in doing the film, Hitchcock added. For example, grumpy Charles de Gaulle's government objected to a script that cast Stafford as a Frenchman who does a bit of spying for the United States and then learns his wife's lover is boss of a Red espionage network that has infiltrated the French government.
But all these problems have been overcome and "Topaz" is rushing toward completion for a July release date, hopefully ahead of a Che Guevara movie being filmed by a rival studio. Simultaneous release of two pictures on the same general subject could spell economic disaster on the silver screen!
The hit Universal film, Topaz, opened in New York on Friday, December 19, 1969, at the Cinerama theatre (a Pacific East Theatre, in the new B'way Triplex Theatres). The film ran several weeks.
Tampa Bay Times, May 26, 1995:
Dany Robin, 68, a former film actor who was the hearthrob of generations of young Frenchmen in the late 1940s and 1950s, died Thursday in a fire at her Paris home, French television said. Originally a dancer with the Paris Opera troupe, she was a favorite of directors seeking an actor to play a naive young girl in love. Her last appearance was in Alfred Hitchcock Topaz in 1969.
The Western Morning News (Plymouth, UK), December 6, 2006, p. 32:
Actress Took Truffaut Roles
Claude Jade, 58, the French actress who starred in several of director Francois Truffaut's best-loved films, has died from cancer.
The young actress caught Truffaut's attention while appearing onstage in Shakespeare's Henry IV in the 1960s.
Born Claude Jorre in Dijon, France, Jade had a role in Alfred Hitchcokc's 1969 film Topaz, about a French spy network, and she also appeared alongside crooner Jacques Brel in the 1969 film Mon Oncle Benjamin (My Uncle Benjamin). Her last role was in Rampal's play Celimne et le Cardinal which played in Paris and in festivals this summer.
Chicago Tribune, April 16, 1969, p. 28:
by Robert Wiedrich
. . . . And Alfred Hitchcock is off to Paris to do some retakes of scenes in Universal's "Topaz." . . . .
Chicago Tribune, October 27, 1969, p. 19:
by Robert Wiedrich
Show Business: Alfred Hitchcock is launching his promotional tour for "Topaz" Dec. 1 and should be in town four days later. The film opens at the Chicago theater in mid-January. . . .
Chicago Tribune, September 26, 1968, p. 28:
by Robert Wiedrich
. . . . Frederick Stafford, the continental film star, will play a cloak and dagger role in Alfred Hitchcock's production of "Topaz," for Universal Pictures. This will be the actor's first American movie. . . .
Chicago Tribune, June 5, 1969:
by Norma Lee Browning
. . . . Frederick Stafford, Van Johnson, and Lee Van Cleef are still shooting "London is Burning," a Dino de Laurentiis war epic.
Chicago Tribune, March 23, 1969, p. 30:
by Robert Wiedrich
*Hollywood: Being confronted with two screen lovelies in the space of three hours is a bit much for a middle-aged warrior more accustomed to dealing with politicians and policemen.
First, it was a smorgasbord at the Scandia restaurant on Sunset Strip with German-born Karin Dor, while goggle-eyed waiters almost stumbled into the marinated herring at the sight of her suntanned beauty, shrouded in a strikingly short paisley print.
Then it was Grand Marnier and coffee with Ann-Margret whose blonde tresses and wild, harem pants kept bringing the bus boy, the waiters, the maitre d', and just about everybody else short of the dishwasher to our table in the Beverly Wilshire's Oak room. Man, O man! The service sure was great.
Karin was telling us about how she dies in Alfred Hitchcock's production of "Topaz," a spy opus set in Fidel Castro's Havana during Cuban missle crisis.
"I die very beautifully," she said. "I'm wearing a long, purple dress and John Vernon [he's a bad guy] embraces me quite tenderly as he shoots me in the side."
"Mr. Hitchcock wanted me to die nicely because I play such a beautiful lady, so he made it an overhead photographic shot. They have eight wires attached to my full skirt so as I slip to the floor, men pull the wires and the skirt opens like a flower. I also have a foam rubber bustle in case I hit the floor too hard."
We left Karin nibbling daintily on a slice of chocolate-rum cake encased in marzipan, thankful that her stage wounds hadn't been permanent, and rushed off to Ann-Margret and her coterie of public admirers. She was a bit exhausted, hiding hehind a large pair of sunglasses, after just getting home from four weeks of doing two shows a night at the Riviera in Las Vegas.
Chicago Defender, Nov. 7, 1968, p. 18:
Taking It Easy
Alfred Hitchcock really had it easy on one of the days he was filming location scenes in New York for his production of "Topaz" for Universal. For a hotel scene with stars Frederick Stafford, John Forsythe, Dany Robin and Calude Jade he set up the cameras on the 10th floor of the St. Regis Hotel---one floor below his own suite.
Chicago Defender, Nov. 21, 1968. p. 20:
Hitchcock Lures Swedish Actress Out of Retirement for "Topaz"
Alfred Hitchcock has lured the distinguished Swedish actress, Sonja Kolthoff, out of reitrement to join Frederick Stafford, John Forsythe, Dany Robin and Claude Jade in his production of "Topaz," based on Leon Uris' best-selling novel.
Miss Kilthoff, who has appeared in most of Sweden's Royal Dramatic Theatre productions for more than two decades, will portray the pivotal role of the wife of a Russian defector in the suspense story based on Leon Uris' best-selling novel.
by Robert Wiedrich
Show Business: Actor John Forsythe and his TV "daughters," Melanie Fullerton, Susan Neher, and Joyce Menges, are flying to Room next week to film a pilot episode of "To Rome, with Love," a Don Fedderson effort for CBS-TV. Then John scoots back to the coast to resume filming "Topaz" for Alfred Hitchcock at Universal. . . .
Chicago Tribune, Oct. 18, 1968, pt. 2, p. 21:
Swedish Actress Slated for 'Topaz'
Swedish actress Tina Hedstrom, who looks like a young Greta Garbo, has been signed by Alfred Hitchcock for a co-starring role in "Topaz," Universal Pictures announced in New York. The film, based on Leon Uris' best-selling spy novel of the same name, is being shot on location in Denmark.
Chicago Tribune, Friday, May 10, 1968, s. 1, p. 23, c. 1:
by Herb Lyon
. . . . A. Hitchcock, master of suspense pics, will next make "Topaz" from the Leon Uris best selling novel--but Hitch does not plan to use name stars. G'luck there. . . .
The hit Universal film, Topaz, opened in Chicago on Friday, January 16, 1970, at the Chicago theatre (State nr Randolph), at 8:45 a.m. The film was rated M (suggested for mature audiences, parental discretion advised). The ad reads: "One of the year's 10 Best Movies!"--National Board of Review. The film ran several weeks.
Chicago Defender, Nov. 19, 1968, p. 11:
Hitchcock Signs Swedish Actor For Key "Topaz" Role
Per Axel Arosenius, noted Swedish stage actor, has been signed for a key role in Alfred Hitchcock's production of "Topaz" for Universal.
Arosenius, who will play a Russian defector whose disclosure of government secrets creates shock waves throughout the world, joines Frederick Stafford, John Forsythe, Dany Robin and Claude Jade, in the suspense drama based on Leon Uris' best-selling novel.
Chicago Defender, Dec. 21, 1968, p. 27:
Wright Celebrates 20th Anniversary with 'Topaz' Role
Ben Wright will celebrate his 20th anniversary as a Hollywood film actor when he starts a featured role in Alfred Hitchcock's production of "Topaz" at Universal. Actor has been signed by Hitchcock to join stars Frederick Stafford, John Forsythe, Dany Robin and Claude Jade in the suspense drama based on Leon Uris' best-selling novel. Wright recently completed the spoken narration for "Star."
Chicago Defender, Apr. 26, 1969, p. 17:
Home Away From Home
TV can be a girl's best friend--especially when she's away from her husband in a foreign country.
That's what French actress Dany Robin learned while co-starring in Alfred Hitchcock's Universal production of "Topaz," now shooting in Hollywood.
Unable to sleep after an exhausting day's work the blond beauty turned on the TV set in her hotel room at 1 a.m., and watched "The Adventures of Gil Blas," a French film starring George Marchal--her husband.
Chicago Defender, Apr. 10, 1969, p. 16:
The Personal Touch
Alfred Hitchcock scheduled an extra day's shooting for a French restaurant scene in Universal's "Topaz."
But Frederick Stafford, John Forsythe and other actors required to eat and drink during the expanded scene raised no objections.
The wine was from Hitchcock's own cellar and the pate maison was prepared by his personal chef.
Ckhicago Tribune, Sept. 16, 1969, s. 3, p. 1:
by Norma Lee Browning
PARTY OF THE WEEK: The French consul general hosted an elegant garden party to honor Alfred Hitchcock, who is only the third Hollywood personality ever to receive the French governments officer of arts and letters award. [The other two are Fritz Lang and John Ford.] Mr. Hitchcock just celebrated his 70th birthday with the completion of his 51st movie, Topaz. But he still has the same old twinkle in his eye and looks much younger. One of the guests said Hitch must have found the fountain of youth. But personally, I think its that consommé he told me about. He makes it himself from a secret formula, has it canned, and drinks it daily. . . . The most glamorous lady at the party was Anne Hamilton Spaulding, in a long raspberry-red satin gown and glittering diamonds. When we asked about her romance with Charlie Farrell, she replied, O, Charlie and I had a mild romance going on years ago and we still keep in touch. Were very fond of each other . . . . Also chatted with John Forsythe, who has been working nonstop since I saw him on the set of Topaz. He made another movie, The Happy Ending, and has been busy with his TV series, to Rome With Love, which debuts on Sept. 28.
Chicago Tribune, February 23, 1969, s. E, p. 11 (with photos):
Forsythe Takes Movies, Stage or TV in Stride
By Norma Lee Browning
The actor: Handsome, personable John Forsythe, a cross between Humphrey Bogart and Henry Fonda. Hes dressed in a tweed business suit and is wearing make-up because hes been shooting all morning in Topaz, the movie version of Leon Uris best-seller, being directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
Topaz is Hitchcocks first movie since Torn Curtain, which starred Paul Newman and Julie Andrews. The picture made money, no thanks to the many movie critics who didnt like it. But word is that Hitchcock is very high on Topaz, a contemporary spy thriller to which hell give the Hitchcock touch.
The entire company had just returned from six weeks of shooting in Paris and Copenhagen and theyre now working here in Hollywood. Hitchcock is using mostly unknown performers in Topaz, with the notable exception of John Forsythe.
Nlb: What is it like to work with the worlds most famous director?
A: Its very stimulating and challenging. Hitchcock is a real perfectionist. He knows camera, lighting and every piece of equipment thoroly. He can be very difficult and demanding but hes very relaxed on this picture.
Nlb: Youve worked with him before, havent you? A: Yes. Weve been friends since I made The Trouble With Harry for him in 1955. [That was the picture which introduced Shirley MacLaine to movie goers.] I also worked with him on one of the few hour-long TV shows he did. He hasnt changed at all thru the years. Hes as droll and offbeat as ever. Theres only one problem about working with Hitchcock. I gain weight. He took e to every restaurant in Paris and Copenhagen that he considers goodit was a real eating spree.
[I saw Hitchcock when Forsythe took me back to the sound stage after lunch. There was the slow, deliberate walk, the precise way he has of speaking and the unmistakable Hitchcock profileliving proof of his love for good food!]
Chicago Tribune, March 12, 1969, s. 2, p. 4:
by Norma Lee Browning
Ingrid Meets Hitch
BULLETIN: Alfred Hitchcock and Ingrid Berman had dinner together at the Beverly Hills hotel. Could that possibly mean. . . . ? ? ? ? Too good to be true. But theres a strong role for a dramatic actress in Hitchcocks next picture, "The Short Night". And in those golden years Bergman did three for him, remember? "Spellbound," with Gregory Peck ; "Notorious", with Cary Grant ; and "Under Capricorn", with Joseph Cotton . Miss Bergman is here now doing "Cactus Flower" for Columbia, with Walter Matthau and Goldie [Laugh In] Hawn. Hitchcock is over at Universal finishing "Topaz". A new Hitchcock spellbinder with Bergman could be a real blockbuster. Well, we can dream, cant we?
HITCH-POSTSCRIPT: Tho Hitchcock's "Topaz" has been a strictly closed set, he's been permitting young film directors on the set who asked to observe him at work. Recent observers of the master director were Curtis Harrington, who directed "Games", and Peter Bogdanovich, who did "Targets."
Chicago Tribune, April 15, 1968, s. 1, p. 11:
URIS RECALLS REPORT
New York,April 14 [Reuters]---Leon Uris, author of "Topaz," the novel about a French-Russian spy ring, today said he met Pierre Thiraud de Vosjoly, who contended that a spyy ring in fact existed around President de Gaulle.
Uris said the central figure in his novel, a French intelligence agent, was not meant to be the real-life Thiraud de Vosjoly. The author declined to say how well he knew him or whether they met before Uris wrote the book.
He said, however, he does believe there was an espionage ring operating close to President de Gaulle around the time of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis---which figures prominently in "Topaz"---and for a time before that.
New York Times, Sunday, October 15, 1967, Book Review Section, p. 57, c. 1:
Criminals At Large
by Anthony Boucher
* * * * *
But if you want reassurance as to the professional skill and art of suspense writers, even on off days, you have only to regard (I would not say "read") the work of mass-market, best-selling authors who try to compete. The latest is Leon Uris, whose tale of espionage, TOPAZ (McGraw-Hill, $5.95), may rank with the ventures in suspense by Pearl Buck, Taylor Caldwell and Frances Parkinson Keyes. Mr. Uris is flagrantly unable to construct a plot, a character, a novel, or a sentence in the English language--and he takes 130,000 words to display his incompetence. The editor has not bothered even to check the time of the action (the Cuban missle crisis in October, 1962), which keeps shifting between autumn and spring, and 1962 and 1963.
Chicago Sun-Times, Friday, April 27, 2012 [Movie Review Section], p. 11:
[Extracted from the review of the movie "We Have a Pope."]
He is played by Michel Piccoli, now 86 years old, winner of the best actor award at Cannes in 1980, a favorite of that noted atheist Luis Bunuel, with whom he made seven films, including "The Milky Way," in which he played the Marquis de Sade. That alone would comprise a career, but he has worked with virtually every notable director and made more than 200 features. This is one of his most endearing roles, and he brings great love to it.