Topaz (1969 film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Topaz is a 1969 American espionage thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Based on the 1967 Cold War novel Topaz by Leon Uris, the film is about a French intelligence agent who becomes entangled in the Cold War politics of the events leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and later the breakup of an international Soviet spy ring in France. The story is closely based on the 1962 Sapphire Affair, which involved the head of French Intelligence SDECE in the United States, and spy Philippe Thyraud de Vosjoli—a friend of Leon Uris—who played an important role in "helping the U.S. discover the presence of Russian offensive missiles in Cuba". The film stars Frederick Stafford, Dany Robin, John Vernon, Karin Dor, Michel Piccoli, Philippe Noiret, Claude Jade, Michel Subor and John Forsythe.


In Copenhagen in 1962, a high-ranking Soviet intelligence officer, Boris Kusenov (Per-Axel Arosenius), defects to the West. During de-briefing, CIA agent Mike Nordstrom (John Forsythe) learns that Russian missiles with nuclear warheads are to be placed in Cuba.

Needing physical evidence, Nordstrom discloses Kusenov's name to French agent André Devereaux (Frederick Stafford), asking him to bribe Luis Uribe (Donald Randolph), a member of Cuba's U.N. delegation, to provide photographs of documents confirming the missile bases in Cuba. Devereaux decides to accompany his daughter Michèle (Claude Jade) on her honeymoon to New York City with son-in-law François Picard (Michel Subor).

In New York, a French-Martinican agent, Philippe Dubois (Roscoe Lee Browne), is to contact Uribe, who is the secretary to Cuban official Rico Parra (John Vernon), who is staying at the Hotel Theresa in Harlem to show solidarity with the black community.

Dubois sneaks into the hotel. He bribes Uribe to take the documents from Parra's office to photograph. Parra catches Dubois photographing the documents. Chased and shot at by Cuban revolutionaries, Dubois purposefully knocks into Devereaux—who was watching events from the other side of the street—and slips him the camera. A red-headed Cuban guard helps Devereaux to get up, but lets him go. Dubois escapes into the crowd around the hotel.

Dubois' photos confirm that the Soviets are placing missiles in Cuba. Devereaux, despite his wife's accusations of infidelity, flies to Cuba. His mistress, Juanita de Cordoba (Karin Dor), was the widow of a "hero of the Revolution". This enables her to work undercover in the resistance. Upon his arrival, Devereaux finds Parra (another lover of hers) leaving Juanita's mansion. Devereaux asks Juanita to take photos of the missiles. Juanita's loyal domestic staff, Carlotta and Pablo Mendoza, pose as picnickers and photograph the missiles. Pursued, the two hide the incriminating film before they are captured.

During a mass rally and lengthy speech by the "líder máximo", the red-headed Cuban guard recognizes Devereaux's face from the New York incident.

Parra has heard from the tortured Carlotta Mendoza that Juanita is their leader. He embraces her, shooting her dead to save her from extreme torture.

At the Havana airport, the Cuban authorities fail to find the microfilms on Deveraux. When Devereaux gets back, his wife has left him. Devereaux is to be recalled to Paris. Kusenov tells him about the existence of a Soviet spy organization called "Topaz" within the French intelligence service. He is given the name of NATO official Henri Jarré (Philippe Noiret), who leaked documents to the KGB.

Devereaux researches the leak. He invites some of his old friends and colleagues, including Jarré, to a lunch at a fine Paris restaurant under the pretext of helping Devereaux prepare for his inquiry. Devereaux tells the others about Topaz, in order to provoke some reaction. Jarré claims it is misinformation, and says that Kusenov died a year ago.

Jarré starts to panic. He visits the leader of the spy ring, Jacques Granville (Michel Piccoli). Devereaux, Nicole, and Granville were close friends from their days together in the French Resistance. Granville tells Jarré it was a mistake to say Kusenov was dead; the Americans will easily discover that Jarré is lying. As Jarré is leaving Granville's house, Devereaux's wife arrives to meet Granville, her lover.

Devereaux sends his son-in-law, François, to interview Jarré. Devereaux and Michèle rush to Jarré's flat and find Jarré dead, a staged suicide. François has disappeared. After being clubbed and kidnapped, François managed to escape from his captors' car with an overheard phone number and his sketch of Jarré.

Nicole tells her family, with tearful eyes, that the phone number is Granville's, so he must be the leader of the Topaz organization. Granville is exposed and then commits suicide (in the USA and French versions) or flees to the Soviet Union (in the British version).


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