118. Topaz (C-)
: My survey of Alfred Hitchcock's 1960s output continues, unfortunately yielding another disappointment. For the first time in decades, Hitchcock worked without any established Hollywood stars, and the talent he ultimately chose isn't all that impressive. Indeed, John Vernon as a Cuban soldier might be the worst casting decision since Charlton Heston was hired to play a Mexican in Touch of Evil
. Worse than the cast, however, is the pace, which is so plodding that the film is rarely suspenseful (The Harlem Hotel sequence is the film's notable exception). The score, by Maurice Jarre, is at times mildly effective, but at others is completely inappropriate. The ending (which went through multiple revisions and reshoots) is hardly satisfying, but the real problem isn't what happens in the final moments -- it's the aimless way the movie limps to the finish line.
Home Video: 68 +1