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Like his previous films Rope and The Trouble with Harry, Hitchcock intended the film to be an experiment for whether colours, predominately red, yellow and white, could be used to reveal and influence the plot. He later admitted that this did not work out.
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Hitchcock's signature cameo appearance occurs 27 minutes into the film, at the airport: he is seated in a wheelchair as he is being pushed by a nurse. She stops, and he nonchalantly stands and greets a man, proceeding to walk off screen with him.
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The plot is based on the real-life Sapphire Affair of 1962.
The film begins with a Russian KGB agent defecting along with his wife and daughter. It was based on that of Anatoliy Golitsyn.
André Devereaux was based on French agent Philippe Thyraud de Vosjoli of the SDECE.
"Juanita de Cordoba" is loosely based on Castro's sister Juanita Castro who defected to the U.S.
The red-haired army captain known as "Hernandez" is based on Manuel Piñeiro.
Fidel Castro makes an uncredited appearance in the film along with Che Guevara. While in Cuba, Deveraux attends a Castro rally in order to keep up the appearance of his official cover, that of a French trade attaché. The film spliced in actual footage of a real Castro rally of the era to add to the realism, though Castro himself is not heard speaking.
The French title is L'Étau (English: [bench] vice, stranglehold), to avoid any reference to Topaze, a well-known 1951 French opus by Marcel Pagnol starring Fernandel and Yvette Etiévant. In the French script, the topaz gemstone is replaced by "l'opale" (opal).[citation needed
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Topaz was filmed on location in West Germany, Copenhagen, Paris, New York City, and Washington, DC,
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