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Hitchcock and the Censors$
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John Billheimer

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780813177427

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813177427.001.0001

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Topaz (1969)

Topaz (1969)

(p.298) 40 Topaz (1969)
Hitchcock and the Censors

John Billheimer

University Press of Kentucky

Topaz, the first film to be undertaken by Hitchcock after the decline of the Production Code, was a disaster from beginning to end. The author of the best-selling novel on which the movie was based, Leon Uris, did not get along with Hitchcock and produced an unusable screenplay, causing schedule delays that allowed Hitchcock little time for advance preparation. The novel was based on a true-life incident in which Soviet spies infiltrated the French government. Since the incident reflected poorly on the French government, permission to film in Paris was withheld until Hitchcock promised to show the government in a good light and observe the Code-like instructions that evildoers be punished. Hitchcock’s desire to film a love scene free from Code restraints was thwarted when it was discovered that both the leading man and the leading lady had surgical scars, making it necessary to film their key love scene from the shoulders up. Finally, after preview audiences hooted down the film’s initial ending, a duel in a deserted soccer stadium, Hitchcock filmed two alternative endings, one in which the lead spy gets away, angering the French government, and one in which he commits suicide. Audiences in different countries saw different endings, none of which pleased either the audiences or the producers.

Keywords:   Alfred Hitchcock, Leon Uris, alternative endings, Production Code Administration, punishment of evildoers, Topaz

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