Topaz (film)

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German title topaz
Original title Topaz
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1969
length 126 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director Alfred Hitchcock
script Samuel A. Taylor
production Alfred Hitchcock for Universal Pictures
music Maurice Jarre
camera Jack Hildyard
cut William H. Ziegler

Topaz (Topaz) is a spy - thriller by Alfred Hitchcock in the year 1969 and an adaptation of the eponymous bestseller by Leon Uris . The leading roles were played by Frederick Stafford , Dany Robin , Karin Dor , John Vernon , Claude Jade , Michel Subor , Michel Piccoli , Philippe Noiret and John Forsythe . The film ran in German cinemas from January 1, 1970.


Topas tells a spy story from the Cold War that takes place in 1962, shortly before the Cuban Missile Crisis . In addition to the diplomats and string pullers in the USA, France and the Soviet Union, individuals are also involved: diplomat André Devereaux, his wife Nicole, their daughter Michèle and her husband François, Andrés Cuban lover Juanita, their admirer Rico Parra and Juanita's householder couple Mendoza. Nicole's lover Granville and his helper, NATO man Jarré, are also involved in the network of relationships. NATO man Michael Nordstrom established himself as a puller, delegating responsibility downwards. The complex story, based on a novel by Leon Uris, is divided into three chapters. While Uris interweaves all three levels of action, Hitchcock tells the story linearly.

Copenhagen, Washington and New York
, the KGB -Beamte Boris Kuzenov runs with his wife Olga and daughter Tamara in Copenhagen in a spectacular operation to the Americans. After confirming the suspicion that Soviet military technicians are deployed on the island of Cuba, the American agent Mike Nordstrom and his French friend André Devereaux have to find out whether there are actually Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba. When asked about the meaning of the code name “Topaz”, Kuzenov initially appears to be ignorant. Nordstrom threatens Kuzenov to extradite him and his family to the nearest Russian embassy.

Devereaux and his wife Nicole accompany their daughter Michèle and son-in-law François Picard on their honeymoon in New York. Michèle and her husband attend meetings at the UN, where François outlines the delegates from all the nations involved. Nordstrom expects the family in the hotel and urges André to go to a hotel in Harlem to gain knowledge about the Soviet military engagement in Cuba from the Cuban UN delegation. André puts Philipe Dubois from Martinique on the Luis Uribe sketched by François, the secretary of the Cuban Rico Parra. Dubois can hand over documents to André with Uribe's help. Dubois escapes, André stumbles over him, grabs the pictures - and Uribe dies. The Parra file requires further research in Cuba.

Devereaux travels to Cuba against the wishes of his jealous wife to gather evidence of missiles being deployed on the island. Juanita de Córdoba, courted by Rico Parra, is Andrés' lover. She sends the housekeepers Mendoza to Viriel to photograph the missile transports. When André is in the audience at a rally by Fidel Castro, he is recognized by Parra's follower Hernandez. André stumbled over his legs in New York when Dubois handed him the microfilm. Parra becomes suspicious: The Mendozas are caught, but couriers bring André the microfilm. Under torture, Carlotta Mendoza confesses that Juanita sent her. Juanita is shot in an embrace by Rico Parra, who wants to spare her the torture. André only finds out about her death upon departure.

When Deveraux returned to Washington, he was given the opportunity to meet with Kuzenov in person. He tells him what is behind the code name "Topas": High officials of the Sûreté nationale work as double agents for the KGB. Devereaux follows his family to Paris, where daughter Michèle tries in vain to reconcile their parents, who have since separated. Michèle takes him to his old Resistance comrade Jacques Granville because Nicole is at a party there. Michèle mentions that in addition to the splendid property in Paris, Jacques also has country estates in Switzerland and on the Côte d'Azur. Nicole tells her daughter that there is nothing she can do for André and flees. Jacques mentions that he was in love with Nicole but that she married André.

André meets with French security officers in the “Chez Pierre” restaurant and puts Henri Jarré under pressure when he claims that the defector is just a look-alike Kuzenov. Immediately afterwards, Jarré appears at Granville's. He advises him to stay calm. Devereaux will die and “Topas” will continue to work. When Jarré leaves, Nicole Devereaux sees him visiting Granville. He is her lover.

André puts François, who works as a journalist, on the spy ring "Topas". François asks Jarré for an interview, during which he pressures him. Jarré finally agrees to meet with Deveraux. François then phoned André. Meanwhile, Jarré lets two men into his apartment. The telephone conversation between André and François is suddenly interrupted, whereupon André and Michèle rush to the apartment of the spy Jarré. This is dead on a car roof in the courtyard and François has disappeared. In the apartment they find a sketch Jarré made by François, which they take with them.

André and Michèle drive back to Michèle's apartment to look for François from there. Nicole is also here. François suddenly returns home with a gunshot wound on his arm. While he is being treated by those present, he gives a telephone number that leads to the boss of "Topas". Nicole sees the sketch by Jarré and then confesses her affair with Jacques, the head of the organization "Topas".

Hitchcock then shot three final versions: a duel between Devereaux and Granville, an encounter between the two at the airport (André to New York, Granville to Moscow) and Granville's suicide.


The film was not well received by either the audience or the critics. In the opinion of many film critics, the line-up of international stars was not attractive enough for the US audience. The actors Michel Piccoli , Philippe Noiret , Karin Dor and the young Claude Jade tended to appeal to the European market.

  • The New York Times in 1969 was one of the few positive things about the film. Vincent Canby praised the wonderfully composed sequences, the irony and the little absurdities. He also praised Hitchcock as the real star of the film and rated Topaz higher than Hitchcock's spy thriller The Foreign Correspondent , Saboteurs and The Torn Curtain . Canby also praised the fact that Topaz is free of contemporary cinema clichés and dispenses with agent frills à la James Bond . The film is not only entertaining, it is a cautionary fable of one of the most moral cynics of the time.
  • The Evangelische Film-Beobachter (review no. 26/1970, p. 29) judged: “Although it is clearly superior to the cheap series films of the genre due to its clean ability, Hitchcock's latest film after the somewhat controversial bestseller by Leon Uris remains in the overall impression considerably below some of his earlier works. "
  • The program magazine TV Spielfilm wrote: “The sprawling novel by Leon Uris obviously overwhelmed even the thriller specialist Alfred Hitchcock, because the nested agent story tends to cause confusion rather than gripping tension. But despite all the shortcomings: Even a lukewarm Hitchcock is even better than some other work. By no means a jewel, but at least a Hitchcock. "


Hitchcock made his mandatory cameo in the 27th minute of the movie on the scene at New York LaGuardia Airport . When Claude Jade and Michel Subor arrive in New York , he is seen getting out of a wheelchair.


In total, ten main characters of roughly equal weight are involved in the action, which takes place in five different cities, none of which shows the heroic character traits that are otherwise typical for this film genre. The leading roles around the antihero Frederick Stafford are played by the French Dany Robin and Claude Jade as well as their compatriots Michel Piccoli, Philippe Noiret and Michel Subor, the Canadian John Vernon and the German Karin Dor.

Hitchcock and screenwriter Samuel A. Taylor continued to work on the script during the shoot after the first version was rejected as unusable by the novelist Leon Uris .

Two additional closing sequences were filmed, neither of which were used. In the first, the French agent André Devereaux wanted to duel in a football stadium with his old friend and now known traitor Jacques Granville after a meeting with his wife, daughter and son-in-law. While François acted as the second, Nicole and Michèle feared the Stade Charléty. However, Granville was ambushed by a Soviet assassin. This scene preferred by Hitchcock fell victim to the scissors after the test screenings ("previews"), in which the end of the film was the most criticized, just like the second variant. In this, both board a different aircraft; one started towards Washington (with André Devereaux on board), the other towards Moscow (with Granville on board). This version was originally performed in England and has also been broadcast on television several times in Germany since 2005.

In the USA during the Cold War it was not opportune for political reasons that the “evil” Russian agent Granville could leave for the Soviet Union unmolested under the protection of diplomatic immunity. The “official” end of the film was therefore subsequently changed for the American market. According to American taste, it contains the suicide of Jacques Granville; the scene was not shot, so the studios manipulated the existing footage. They used an earlier scene in which the handicapped Henry Jarré walks into Granville's house. You then see a shadowy figure disappearing in the house, which you can mistake for Granville. This setting is frozen as a still image and a shot sounds.

Filming locations in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Paris, Wiesbaden, New York, Washington DC, Salinas (California) and sound stages at Universal were used for the film. A Cuban street, a hotel in Harlem with a complete street and parts of La Guardia airport were recreated there.

The director's cut of the film was first released on DVD in 1999. The film has a running time of 143 instead of 126 minutes. It is the version filmed by Alfred Hitchcock without the cuts by Universal. Since then, the film has been shown in retrospectives in this 17-minute longer version. The Director's Cut has already been released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in the USA and Great Britain. In German publications so far (as of 2016) only the old version can be seen.

Differences from the novel

In the novel by Leon Uris, François Picard is murdered. His widow Michèle and her mother Nicole then flee to America via Spain. In a phone booth, André learns that his wife and daughter have managed to escape. André stays in this phone booth. In the first half of the novel, Michèle is engaged to the snob Tucker Brown III. This character is not mentioned in the film, as Hitchcock introduces Michèle and François as a couple at the beginning.

In addition, in the novel Juanita and Parra, Parra's henchman Munoz is tortured to death. Thus the most famous scene in the film - the assassination of Juanita by Parra (as well as the exciting sequences of Michèle's fear for François) - does not come from the novel.

The novel ends with the escape of Nicole and Michèle and the resignation of Andrés. He calls Nordstrom from a phone booth and asks for help.


DVD - Topas - Universal 903 559 9
The film is on the DVD in 4: 3 full screen instead of the original widescreen 1.85: 1 format. All three film ends are included as bonus material (here in their original format) as well as a film-historical assessment by Leonard Maltin .

It was first broadcast on German television on April 4, 1976 at 9.25 p.m. on ARD .


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Release certificate for Topas . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , December 2008 (PDF; test number: 41 771 DVD).
  2. ^ 'Topaz': Alfred Hitchcock at His Best
  3. TV feature film review. (No longer available online.) May 15, 2015, formerly in the original ; accessed on May 14, 2015 .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  4. [1]
  5. Spiegel Online TV program preview from March 29, 1976. March 29, 1976, accessed November 30, 2014 .