Sunday, December 6, 2009


Topaz; Thriller, USA, 1969; D: Alfred Hitchcock, S: Frederick Stafford, Karin Dor, John Vernon, Michel Piccoli, Claude Jade

The high ranking KGB agent Boris Kusenov leaves Cuba together with his wife and daughter in order to escape to Denmark, and then to the US where he tells the Americans Soviet secrets. French agent Andre Devereaux gets the assignment to investigate that. With the help of a reporter, Phillipe, he gets a hold of a secret Soviet plan about arming Cuba. He goes to Cuba and takes photos of secret rockets, but because of that his lover Juanita gets murdered. Returning to the USA, Andre discovers that French ambassadors Henri and Jacques work as spies for the Soviets. Henri dies while Jacques escapes.

Hitchcock's 51st film, "Topaz" caught the old master of wrong foot, but non-the-less he still managed to squeeze more material from it than some other bad director would have. This way some sequences are truly brilliant, like the one without a sound in a hermetic glasshouse where hero Andre talks with the reporter Phillipe or the one where Phillipe and Uribe get discovered by a Cuban leader when stealing secret plans from him in a room, and occasionally Hitchcock's humorous touch shows up (a Cuban soldier spots two seagulls in the sky carrying sandwiches), yet they are only small crumbs of pleasure. By taking the complicated story set in the background of the Cold War era, Hitchcock made an untypical, stiff and overstretched spy thriller of "James Bond" format. A conventional film with strange acting and schematic dramaturgy that didn't manage to ignite that cinema spark.


No comments: