Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Topaz

Hitchcock, 1969, 120m

This espionage thriller is built around the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Russians are secretly setting up an array of nuclear missiles aimed at American cities. A Russian diplomat has defected to the US and the hero, a French diplomat, is sent to Cuba to confirm the information. Add in the right proportion of sizzling romance, and a racy script, and you have all the ingredients for a hit. The comparison to James Bond is inevitable and it is likely that Hitchcock put his monumental talents as an entertainer and artist to cash in on the then popular genre. The film must have been extremely topical.

One of the yardsticks that can be applied to a movie is it's ability to suspend the sense of passage of time. This one is precisely the right length and leaves you with a sense of contentment and none of fatigue. Easy to follow plot wise, the lush shifting locales and the bright daylight scenes are meant to lull you into a relaxed stupor, coming to a somewhat abrupt end when you could have taken a bit more.

If not a masterpiece, this is one of the sunniest of Hitchcock films.

Vincent Canby

2 comments:

kaist455 said...

That abrupt ending was not the original one. After trying three endings(Public duel between the hero and the hidden villain, wily elopement, and a sudden assassination), Hitchcock settled on that ending.

It's so-so Hitchcock movie, but more entertaining than his previous major flop.

S. M. Rana said...

Hitchcock spectrum embraces a variety of colors and Psycho is at an extreme point. If Psycho is black, Vertigo might be red and Rear Window grey. A different pen is needed to write about these movies. Topaz is a movie one can enjoy with half open eyes.