3 Topkapi (film)

Topkapi (film)

Infobox Film
name =Topkapi

caption =Original film poster
director = Jules Dassin
producer = Jules Dassin
writer = Eric Ambler (novel "The Light of Day")
Monja Danischewsky
starring =Melina Mercouri
Peter Ustinov
Maximilian Schell
Robert Morley
music =Manos Hadjidakis
cinematography = Henri Alekan
editing = Roger Dwyre
distributor = United Artists
release = flagicon|USA 17 September7 1964
runtime = 119 min
language = English
budget =
imdb_id = 0058672

"Topkapi" (1964) is a heist film made by Filmways Pictures and distributed by United Artists. It was produced and directed by an American film director Jules Dassin. The film is based on Eric Ambler's novel "The Light of Day" (1962), adapted as a screenplay by Monja Danischewsky. The music score was by Manos Hadjidakis, the cinematography by Henri Alekan and the costume design by Theoni V. Aldredge.

The film stars Melina Mercouri (who later became Dassin's wife), Maximilian Schell, Peter Ustinov, Robert Morley, Akim Tamiroff and Gilles Ségal.


Arthur Simon Simpson (Peter Ustinov) is a lazy, middle-aged, small-time crook biding his time in Kavala, Greece. He works as a tout, accosting tourists at the airport, selling them cheap souvenirs, offering his services as a driver and, given the chance, stealing their valuables. One of his potential victims, however, turns out to be a gentleman thief (Maximilian Schell) planning to steal the emerald-encrusted dagger of the Mehmed II from Istanbul's Topkapi Museum, where it is on display in a glass-enclosed case for tourists to admire. He introduces himself to Simpson as Walter Harper and his attractive companion (Melina Mercouri) as Elizabeth Lipp and hires him to drive his American limousine from Athens to Istanbul -- alone.

At the Turkish border, Simpson is arrested when firearms are found hidden in the car. The Turkish Secret Police suspect the "tourists" to be terrorists plotting an assassination and release Simpson only on condition that he become one of their agents. From then on, Simpson has to spy on Harper, Lipp and everyone else they meet in Istanbul. But ultimately Simpson is hired by Harper, too -- not as their driver but as a member of the gang.

While all this is happening, Simpson, a coward longing for his less dangerous life back in Kavala, has no idea what exactly they are planning. When the big day finally comes, Simpson, who is afraid of heights, panics because his job involves climbing to the roof of the museum. But he summons up the nerve to carry on, and he and Harper's gang of thieves do go through with the robbery -- with a quite unexpected result.


Ambler's novel is different from the movie on several counts. For example, in the book there are frequent flashbacks in which Simpson's school days back in England are described, which explains his character and motives more clearly than in the film.

Although he played one of the leading parts, Peter Ustinov won the 1964 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Arthur Simpson. In an interview given on Ustinov's death in 2004, Maximilian Schell surmised that this may have been due to the misconception that playing a servant could only be done in a supporting role.

The film was shot in Paris at the Studios Boulogne-Billancourt, and on location in Istanbul, Turkey.

ee also

*"How to Steal a Million" (William Wyler; US, 1966) starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole is a film with a similar subject-matter.


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Look at other dictionaries:

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