Topaz (1969)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Topaz</strong> (1969)

(In French, On Cable TV, February 2019) In the Alfred Hitchcock filmography, Topaz stands out as one of the least liked later-era Hitchcock films. The reason quickly becomes obvious as the film unspools: Despite a few typical Hitchcockian touches—the long shots, the unconventional presentation, a few striking images—, the entire film feels like a perfunctory slog. Adapted from a Leon Uris novel that presented a complex but ultimately boring spying triangle between France, Cuba and the United States, Topaz fails to take off, fly or land. The emphasis on this being a pseudo-realistic take on events that may have happened seems to be an excuse to try nothing interesting and to mute down anything that could have been exciting from a more fictional story. Hitchcock, clearly, was far more at ease in twisted thrillers than the minutia of romantic espionage thrillers. Even the mere two-hour running time feels punishing considering the slow pacing and striking lack of humour in the results. This is mediocre Hitchcock—polished, but long and scattered to the point where it would be more difficult to guess that this is coming from Hitchcock. I did like some of the early-1960s atmosphere, but otherwise I’m joining the popular opinion: Topaz goes straight to the director’s bottom tier.

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