TOPAZ an Hommage to the French

I experience Topaz as Hitch's tribute to the French. One as-yet- unrealized event that I want to stage is a reproduction of the Parisian lunch scene that Alfred Hitchcock so carefully researched and put on. It is, dare I say it, a sumptuous scene? He accomplishes in eight minutes what Babette's Feast accomplishes in two hours. (Well, OK, maybe that's an exaggeration.)

Its flaws notwithstanding, Topaz is one of my favorite movies. It's a wonderful series of episodes that do have a bit of trouble hanging together. But what episodes! The suspense of the opening scene in which the Russian family escape from their Soviet "bodyguards," the Pieta shot of the two Cuban counterrevolutionaries, the execution of Juanita. (Those latter two scenes are grisly, yet hauntingly beautiful.) And much, much, more.

The recent DVD release with its extra 17 minutes of footage improves the story substantially. If you rent it, try to get that one.

Joel Gunz