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Catching The Cold War: The Culture of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Posted November 28, 2011 to photo album "Catching The Cold War: The Culture of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy"

The Cold War paranoia that permeates TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY was a focus of a series of fascinating books and films created in post-war Europe and America.

Taking the Temperature of Cold War Culture
The Moral Quagmire: THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD
Potential Fallout: FAIL SAFE
Paranoia Pulp: KISS ME DEADLY
Sex and the Soviet: From Russia with Love
Peace in a Pod: INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS
Cold War Campaign: THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE
At Long Last: POINT OF ORDER
Cold War On The Rocks: TOPAZ
Cold War Meltdown: THE FOURTH PROTOCOL
The Cold War Capsized: THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER
Cold War On The Rocks: TOPAZ

Cold War On The Rocks: TOPAZ

In the mid-1960s, Alfred Hitchcock made a pair of thrillers dealing with Cold War European espionage. TORN CURTAIN, inspired by the defection of Guy Burgess and Don Maclean from Britain to Russia in the 1950s, starred Paul Newman as an American scientist who stages a false defection to the East. Julie Andrews played his alarmed fiancé/assistant, who follows him. Hitchcock was reportedly unsatisfied with his relationship to Method actor Newman, and for his next film, TOPAZ, he worked with mostly European actors to adapt Leon Uris’s novel. Uris’s tale was based on the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Sapphire Affair, in which President John F. Kennedy passed on to French President Charles de Gaulle suspicions that Russian agents had infiltrated French intelligence. In Uris’s novel and Hitchcock’s film, French agent Andre Devereaux (played in the film by Frederick Stafford) travels to New York and Cuba on the hunt for the missiles, eventually also uncovering “Topaz,” a Soviet ring operating in Paris. While hailed for its style and imaginative set pieces, TOPAZ isn’t considered by most critics one of Hitchcock’s best. Vincent Canby of the New York Times, however, found its low-key qualities perfectly suited to its subject matter: “TOPAZ is not a conventional Hitchcock film,” he wrote. “It's rather too leisurely and the machinations of plot rather too convoluted to be easily summed up in anything except a very loose sentence. Being pressed, I'd say that it's about espionage as a kind of game, set in Washington, Havana, and Paris at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, involving a number of dedicated people in acts of courage, sacrifice, and death, after which the survivors find themselves pretty much where they were when they started, except that they are older, tired, and a little less capable of being happy.”