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A man called Major is in Cairo after being released from a German Prison. He is there to proceed with his plan to steal the jewelry from the King Tutankhamen exhibit at the national gallery. This plan has been on hold since he was jailed. He enlists the help of Willy, Ali, Nicodemos, Kerim and Kuchuk to carry out his detailed 'foolproof' plan. Perhaps the curse of the Pharoahs is more than a superstition because Major soon finds out that while the robbery may be easy, getting out with the jewels may be the hardest part. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the greatest strengths of filmmaker John Huston was that he knew great source material when he read it and, just as importantly, not to change anything for the sake of change alone. This is a virtue also shared by the makers of Cairo' a very faithful adaptation of W. R. Burnett's wonderful novel The Asphalt Jungle'. The only problem, of course, is that Huston got there thirteen years earlier.
The switch of locale from the brooding, empty streets of downtown America to the teeming bazaars and markets of Egypt's capital works surprisingly well but in every other department the film is vastly inferior to the Huston version. There is a slight switch of emphasis from the role of the hired gun (Richard Johnson instead of Sterling Hayden) to the criminal mastermind (played with typical cool detachment by George Sanders) and the object of the robbery this time is nothing less than Cleopatra's jewels in the Cairo Museum! Beyond that, however, it's almost a scene for scene remake of the earlier film.
Sanders and Johnson do surprisingly well, even though Johnson is hopelessly miscast as an Arab. The supporting cast is poor at best. Cairo' compares favourably against the other two versions of the tale, Cool Breeze' (1972) & The Badlanders' (1958) a western with Alan Ladd! but that's not really saying too much.
Stick with the Huston version or, better still, find a copy of the novel it's one of the outstanding works of 20th Century American literature.
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