Topaz movie review (Better Know Your Hitchcock)

topaz-movie-posterAfter watching Marnie and The Birds, Topaz felt a bit more like business as usual from a Hitchock standpoint, but with one noticeable difference: this movie doesn’t have much in the way of star power, outside of John Forsythe in a supporting role. Maybe this is due to Hitchcock’s reported troubles with Julie Andrews and Paul Newman on the set of Torn Curtain… anyway, let’s dig in to Topaz!

Since I’m so hung up on the movie’s cast, I’ll start there. 

Frederick Stafford as André Devereaux is great – he carries the movie with ease, but at times I wished he was given more to do – especially in the third act, but more on that later. Dany Robin as Nicole Devereaux and Karin Dor as Juanita de Cordoba are both wonderful as the female leads. They do a great job of showing strength of character that is often missing from woman’s roles without sacrificing anything. The best performance of the film is debatable, but I think I’ll go with John Vernon as Rico Parra. Those piercing blue eyes do so much work – when you couple his eyes and his expressions, it’s a home run. John Vernon is one of those actors I think I don’t know, but once I look up his resume, it all falls into place. How did I miss the Dean from Animal House while I was watching this? Vernon is a genius, that’s how! The only performance based complaint I have is Michel Subor as Francois Picard – his performance brings to mind a poorly dubbed anime movie character.

Without spoiling the movie for you (which is often centered around the mystery of what Topaz is – you’ll glean that much from the trailer), I do have to say that what Topaz is doesn’t seem to have much to do with Topaz the thing – the gemstone, that is. I guess the word was chosen at random… at least that’s how it seems. I guess I just expect the title of the film to have something to do with the film itself. Apparently the screenplay, which was based on a successful novel, was subject to rewrites up until they shot most scenes, if not all. This sort of chaos led to Hitchcock filming three different endings, all of which were available on my DVD copy, and I have to say, none of which necessarily thrilled me. I wouldn’t say Topaz is a dud – the first two acts are solid, but act three is a bit flat and not especially satisfying. This may be my view of the flick because of my love for The Man Who Knew Too Much, which features one of the most satisfying conclusions in movie history. Still, Topaz is a fine movie with wonderful performances and is certainly worthy of a viewing.

Check out more Better know your Hitchcock posts – we have several more of these planned for the future, but come back to on Monday for the start of 80s movie week!

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on September 12, 2013, in movie review and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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