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Topaz

Screening on Film
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
With John Forsythe, Frederick Stafford, Dany Robin.
US, 1969, 35mm, color, 127 min.

One of Hitchcock’s only overtly political films, Topaz is a densely-layered spy story set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, inspired in part by the director’s admiration for John F. Kennedy. Taken from the best-selling novel by Leon Uris and based on an allegedly true account of a communist spy being discovered within General Charles de Gaulle’s entourage, the film also served as Hitchcock’s opportunity to create a “realistic” counterpoint to the James Bond films, which in his mind had plagiarized and ruined his trademark brand of romantic suspense. Featuring a huge cast without any stars and relying largely on dialogue to forward its complex plot, Topaz engages with reality on a level unseen in Hitchcock’s other films, even incorporating actual footage of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

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