Topaz - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Topaz Reviews

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February 14, 2014
There are three different plots wound up in one movie. Plenty of infidelity too.
½ September 22, 2013
Fairly dry and slow film of swapping state secrets during the cold war. It has it's moments in the intricate story weaves to show us the complications of loyalty and morality. It involves Russian, French, USA and Cuban governments and shows some of their contrasting characteristics. Karin has a beautifully dramatic death.
½ August 13, 2013
Hitchcock's worst, imo.
August 11, 2013
"Diplomats' wives should not talk." - "All wives talk."
Super Reviewer
½ May 18, 2013
I had heard that, among the lesser films of Hitchcock's filmography, this was basically the bottom of the barrel, and you know what? That's not completely wrong.

Now, it's not a terrible film per se, but it certainly doesn't have a lot going for it. The plot is the old Cold War spy intrigue/mole hunt sort of thing, with emphasis on a French operative diving into Soviet and Cuban dealings around the time of the Cuban Missle Crisis. The storyline is heavily fact based, and as a result, is pretty cut and dried, and not really as compelling as it should be.

It doesn't help that Hitch made a lot of films like this already, most of them better, and ones I saw before this one. Even though it has ties to reality, the film is dull, not engaging, and kind of a bore. I really didn't care what was happening most of the time, and that's really not a good sign considering the film's long running time.

The film's not all bad though. It has a lot of merit from a technical standpoint, with some good locations, sets, and camerawork. Maurice Jarre's score is also really good, and probably the film's highlight, aside from the film scene Karin Dor is in. Speaking of actors, this could probably have benefited from some serious star power. That wouldn't be a guarantee that it would've helped, but you never know. I do think the highlight as far as acting goes to John Vernon, and his portrayal of a Cuban revolutionary is both bewildering and awesome. I t probably wouldn't fly today, and, while I'm not sure why they got a Canadian to play a Cuban, I won't complain either, as I think Vernon was a solid character actor.

All in all, the film is just kinda 'meh'. I mostly just think the film falls because it all feels very routine and phoned in. Of course, when you're Hitchcock, I guess it's okay to not be on the top of your game all the time...even though it happened to him a few times, especially during the latter years. See it if you want, but just know that its reputation is pretty true.
½ May 9, 2013
It's a decent 60s spy thriller, but for Hitchcock goes, its fairly slow and shockingly lacking in suspense. Of course the cinematography is amazing, and you get your trademarked Hitchcock Blond
March 7, 2013
Probably my least favorite Hitchcock film
February 11, 2013
An extremely UN-thrilling thriller from Alfred Hitchcock.

OK if you need to kill a couple of hours...
½ January 23, 2013
As much as I love a serious, dramatic cold war thriller (especially those dealing with the Cuban Missile Crisis) this one comes off exceedingly flat and hard to get into. With this, his 3rd to last film, Hitchcock seems to have been trying something dramatically different from his classic films and while I admire the the attempt to make a deadly serious spy thriller at a time when James Bond was king, this could have used a lighter touch.
The cast is decent enough but no one really captures your attention here. And while there are a couple scenes of great tension that Hitch builds masterfully, but they are a little too few and far between to keep this from being one of his most disappointing efforts.
Super Reviewer
January 21, 2013
Following his defection to the United States, a Russian General informs the C.I.A of his nation's plans to position nuclear missiles on the island of Cuba. The C.I.A seek the aid of a French secret agent (Stafford) who manages to steal documents, confirming the plans, from a Cuban official (Vernon) visiting the United Nations in New York. Stafford heads to Cuba to investigate further and also meet up with his mistress (Dor), a leader of the anti-Communist Cuban resistance. Meanwhile, the C.I.A have uncovered information regarding a Soviet spy-ring known as 'Topaz', working within the French intelligence network.
Of all his films, 1969's 'Topaz' is arguably the least "Hitchcockian". With it's rambling plot and overly talky script, it resembles the work of a modern Hollywood hack rather than a master film-maker. Hitch had absolutely zero interest in adapting Leon Uris' novel but, following the commercial failures of 'Marnie' and 'Torn Curtain', Universal forced the best-selling book on him. The production was a troubled affair, with scenes being written as late as the night before they were due to be filmed. This infuriated the director, who had spent his career working in a strict, organized manner. He's often quoted as saying how his films were made long before the cameras began to roll, with every last detail worked out meticulously. This was far from the case with 'Topaz'.
After a cheap, stock-footage utilizing, credits sequence, Hitch gives us an impressive opening. The defecting general and his family leave the Russian embassy in Copenhagen, planning to rendezvous with the C.I.A men who will aid their escape. Through a great crane shot, it's revealed that they have been seen leaving the building and are followed by two men and the creepiest female Russian agent since 'From Russia With Love''s Lotte Lenya. Hitch builds a suspenseful, dialogue free, set-piece as the family are followed through downtown Copenhagen by the villains. We're on familiar Hitchcock ground here but it's one of the few occasions in this film's lengthy running time.
This opening sequence apart, there's about two minutes at best of classic Hitchcock on display in 'Topaz'. The film's most famous moment comes when Dor is discovered to be a traitor by Vernon, who holds her in his arms before shooting her. When he releases her lifeless body from his grip, she collapses to the floor, her purple gown spilling out like a pool of blood, all shown in a stunning overhead shot. (Spielberg paid homage to this moment in 'Munich', replacing the gown with a shattering milk bottle). Just as he used the roar of a jet engine to prevent us from hearing plot details in 'North by NorthWest', here Hitch has two characters hold a discussion behind a thick sound-proof door. We can see them but can't hear a word they say.
For the most part, 'Topaz' is a humorless affair but there are a couple of moments of absurd comedy. They both feature Hitch's great love - food! In one scene, Vernon is searching for a document he seems to have misplaced. He finds it doubling as a napkin for a half-eaten burger, its text smeared with grease. (Once again America has meddled with Cuban affairs). The second comes courtesy of photographic equipment, hidden by spies inside baguettes. When seagulls fly off with the bread in their beaks, it alerts the villains as to the whereabouts of the spies.
These brief sprinklings of note are rare and mostly only of interest to Hitch buffs. On the whole, the film is a terminal bore, like watching a Bond movie under the influence of heroin. The plot seems to ramble on for an age, eventually leading to an unsatisfying conclusion. Three endings were filmed as Hitch and his screenwriter Samuel Taylor struggled to wrap it all up.
The final line of the movie comes from Stafford, "That's the end of Topaz". It's a relief to hear it.
January 9, 2013
My appreciation of Hitchcock makes it hard for me to criticize this film. But in all honesty, it wasn't that greatest. The plot was messy and overcomplicated, and some of the acting was off. However, there were some genuinely amazing moments, such as the overhead shot when Juanita is killed.
January 1, 2013
A French intelligence agent becomes embroiled in the Cold War politics first with uncovering the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missle Crisis, and then back to France to break up an international Russian spy ring.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
December 5, 2012
In 1962, the highly ranked Russian intelligence officer Boris Kusenov defects to the United States of America with his wife and his daughter under the protection of CIA agent Michael Nordstrom. In Washington, Boris discloses the Russian movement in Cuba, and Nordstrom asks the French agent and his friend Andre Devereaux to get further documents from the Cuban leader Rico Parra using his anti-American corrupt secretary Luis Uribe. Then Devereaux travels to Cuba to get additional evidence of the Cuban Missiles with his mistress Juanita de Cordoba. When Devereaux returns, he receives orders from the French government to return to France to explain his participation in Cuba. However Nordstrom schedules a meeting of Devereaux with Boris and the ex-KGB official tells him about Topaz, the codename for a group of French officials in high circles who work for the Soviet Union. Further, he tells that the French NATO representative Henri Jarre is the second in the chain of command of the spy ring Topaz, leaking classified information to the soviets, and the head of spies in known only by the codename of Columbine. Devereaux realizes that he can not reveal the truth before finding who the traitor is.

"Topaz" is not one of Hitchcock's best but it's not a bad film. The problem has to do with the ending and the film's pace, audiences (including myself) will have a difficult time understanding the secret agent lingo. The movie is very well casted and the performances is well acted. I especially enjoyed watching the scenes between the late actor Frederick Stafford and the beautiful Karin Dor. Hitchcock had problems with the studio and the test audiences, and reshoots but was able to complete it nonetheless. "Topaz" imo is still enjoyable to watch and just to slowly savour.
November 22, 2012
Not my favorite Hitchcock. Very!!! 60's. Do love the line about "junk mail" - and at 50 years ago - still applicable today.
½ October 28, 2012
A little too much stuff going on in this film. Hitchcock usually is very direct in his storytelling even with all the twist and turns but this film seemed very convoluted. Can't win them all Alfred.

2008 Movies: 66
½ October 6, 2012
Hitchcock's final three films were Frenzy, Family Plot and this James Bond rip off that clocks up in excess of 2 hrs 20. Not one of the director's best, it nevertheless is worth a look if only for the late sixties cold war atmosphere. Reportedly one of the films the great man least enjoyed working on, this will never rank amongst his best work but even a substandard Hitchcock is better than most others can muster.
½ September 30, 2012
In terms of spy thrillers of the Cold War era, have to say its one of the very enjoyable ones , the twists are great and keep you on your toes. In terms of it being a Hitchcock..was just average
September 11, 2012
I am a huge Hitchcock fan - and I never saw this one.. Definitely not one of his normal films (but you can see much of his directing in this).. This is a political thriller;... It is is not one his better films, but I was entertained (but remember I am biased)...
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