Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 1969
Directed by
Alfred Hitchcock
127 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars


About the only thing that one can recommend in Hitchcock’s adaptation of the bestselling Leon Uris novel is the quality of the dry-cleaning. Following hard on the heels of Torn Curtain (1966), another Cold War spy thriller, it is stylistically similar and with their shared vapidity it is no surprise that both films failed at the box office.

Aside from the director’s trademark cameo there a couple of sequences in which characters are shot through windows so that we cannot hear their dialogue that attest to the fact that Hitchcock was on the set but he might just as well not have been. Apparently it was an unhappy production and if Hitchcock intended to sabotage it he could hardly have done a better job and still picked up his cheque.

If anything making its predecessor look bearable, watching Topaz is like watching some kind of mechanized store display with beautifully presented mannequins performing a trite tableau. Everything about the film from the meandering script (Uris was the original scriptwriter but quit after falling out with Hitchcock who then hired Samuel A. Taylor, writer of Vertigo) to the inert-to-clumsy acting (John Vernon as a Fidel Castro look-alike is simply gruesome casting) conspires against our interest (Hitchcock shot three different endings that were ussed in its theatrical release but none of which saved the film from being the biggest flop of his career).  

The story is set at the time of the Cuban missile crisis as CIA agent Michael Nordstrom (John Forsythe) calls on the help of a French spy Andre Devereaux (Frederick Stafford) to help uncover Russian-Cuban intentions.  Said plot twists and turns but the execution is so pedestrian to downright-awful that you’re not likely to care.




Want something different?

random vintage best worst