On this second viewing, Topaz has lost a star because I didn’t find it engaging enough once I knew the story, the ending, and the handful of good sequences within this laboured story of defection and subterfuge in the wake of the Cuban missile crisis.
The biggest problem is Frederick Stafford, who is surely no one’s idea of a leading man. He’s just awful, stiff as a board and a bore to look at and listen to. John ‘Blake Carrington’ Forsythe does slightly better but the acting is largely TV standard (including that of John Vernon, usually better than he is here, and Dany Robin, in a role that is largely thankless).
Hitch was experimenting with a colour palette of reds and yellows here to show plot points, but it doesn’t work, and after a strong start (the whole sequence with the Russian defector’s daughter is tense and sets expectations for a film that never happens) the story tails off with just a gem here and there of the director’s genius or enjoyable performances from his actors (Roscoe Lee Browne as Dubois is good in his brief appearance).
I missed the humour which is there in other Hitchcock classics. I didn’t like the way the music was used. And the last few minutes seemed ridiculous and a waste of time. It’s a watchable film, but distinctly average, and as an example of a Hitchcock movie, it is a shocker for all the wrong reasons!