Parents' Guide to


By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

'60s Hitchcock spy movie has constant peril, violence.

Movie PG 1969 143 minutes
Topaz Poster Image

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This is a well-made, old-fashioned spy procedural that meticulously takes us through the processes of international espionage and diplomacy. Topaz wasn't a hit when it came out, probably owing partly to routine storytelling techniques, many of which director Alfred Hitchcock had himself pioneered. This is far from Hitchcock's best film, but it still shows his masterly handling of a complex story with his characteristic intelligence and clarity. A strict adherence to gentlemanly propriety also means there are no overt references to sex, although it's clear which men and women have been lovers, and language goes no further than "hell." Even the violence is mostly implied. People are seen after they've been thrown out the window or shot.

So although the movie is about keeping the world from the brink of nuclear annihilation courtesy of two rival superpowers, there's nothing really scary here. Young students of film may be interested in seeing how Hitchcock, a master of suspense, uses editing, camera angles, and music to effectively create cinematic tension.

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