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I May Destroy You
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Topaz is not the worst film in legendary director Alfred Hitchcock's library but it's definitely near the bottom.
Not Hitchcock's best, never the less still a very good film by any standard of judgement. Good story, acting and masterclass directing.
Suspense is always in the air and there are plenty of interesting characters throughout.
And I'm back to the Hitchcock movies now that the Oscar season is done. After this one I only have two left which in itself is a miracle because it's taken me 8 years to get through this damn collection, but the end is in sight! Topaz apparently is considered one of Hitchcock's lesser films. A lot of people don't probably remember this and it most likely doesn't jump on anyone's top Hitchcock films. Base on the novel by Leon Uris we have ourselves another Hithcock espionage spy film. The only difference is that this one just isn't that good. When French Agent Andre Devereaux (Frederick Stafford) learns that the Russians may be placing nuclear warheads in Cuba from a CIA Agent he goes on a mission to find the truth. His journey takes him to New York where he meets with a fellow agent named Philippe Dubois (Roscoe Lee Browne) who gives Devereaux proof of the conspiracy. From here Devereaux flies out to Cuba and meets with his mistress (I swear to God) Juanita de Cordoba (Karin Dor). Juanita is working for the resistance, but attempts to help Devereaux with his mission. Meanwhile Rico Parra (John Vernon) a Cuban military leader becomes suspicious of Devereaux and Juanita. I basically told you all about 80% of the entire movie. It's incredibly slow paced and while Hitchcock has some great shots in here (especially a death scene later on in the movie) I found the lead to be incredibly unlikeable and the performances outside of Parra to be pretty damn flat. This is one of those very forgettable Hitchcock films and for the most part I can't recommend it since it's aged very poorly!
Really wish I could get back 127 Mins of my life.
it was okay for a Hitchcock movie
Is Topaz (1969) Alfred Hitchcock's worst movie? I suspect there were bad films in his early silent days but this does represent a turn for the worse after so many great films in the previous decades (I'll have to rewatch Torn Curtain, 1966, soon). Hitch inexplicably gave the lead, French spy Andre Devereaux, to Frederick Stafford, who comes across rather like a wooden Roger Moore â" so all the good acting happens around him (especially in the third act in Paris where Michel Piccoli and Philippe Noiret appear). Leon Uris's novel may have been foisted upon Hitchcock but Uris himself soon left the project and Hitch and Vertigo writer Samuel Taylor apparently wrote the script on the fly. Maybe it shows â" the film feels very long (with its three acts taking place in America, Cuba, and France) and some of its plot mechanics feel abrupt. Perhaps that's because Hitchcock never seems to care much about the MacGuffin (the secrets about the Russian nuclear missiles in Cuba) â" as usual, it's just a device to allow him to build suspense. However, there isn't a lot of suspense here. Perhaps we worry that Devereaux's contact (and mistress) in Cuba will be caught â" but we don't get much of a chance to know her (and during that time we are dismayed that Devereaux is cheating on his wife, spoiling his good guy image). Perhaps we are invested in finding out who Columbine is (the French diplomat working for the Russians) but it takes a long time to get to Paris and the possible suspects aren't introduced until that third act. Nevertheless, this is still Hitchcock and he is still a masterful director. Just watching how he sets up his shots, edits efficiently to provide maximum information to the viewer, and, of course, dazzles with some trick shots (Karin Dor collapsing into her purple dress) is worth the price of admission. Just don't expect anything on par with Vertigo, Rear Window, Notorious, Psycho, or even Marnie (1964).
Topaz is like a James Bond film made for bureaucrats. The dry plot is told through dull performances by uninteresting characters, all while lacking Hitchcock's trademark wit and suspense. I wonder if anyone truly enjoys this movie.
Topaz is well shot and acted with good dialogue too. However, it entirely fails as a thriller as it lacks in suspense, danger and palpable tension. The movie's also tremendously boring owing to its slow pace and uneventful story. It's a surprising misfire from Hitchcock.
Perhaps the least satisfying of Hitchcock's movies 'Topaz' is a great film sabotaged by lackluster casting and a truly awful score from Maurice Jarre.
How this film misses Bernard Herrmann's urgent strings and sense of menace. Jarre had done amazing work with David Lean, but this marked a dramatic slide into mediocrity.
All of Hitchcock's skill behind the camera is undone by the jarring soundtrack.
A case of 'what might have been'.
More complicated than thrilling or suspenseful, generally a step backward for Hitchcock.