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A small-time con-man with passport problems gets mixed up with a gang of world-class jewelry thieves plotting to rob the Topkapi museum in Istanbul. Turkish intelligence, suspecting arms smuggling, gets involved, and under pressure the con-man rises to heights he'd never dreamed of. Written by
David Carroll <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Early in the film when Peter Ustinov talks to tourists he says "Je parle Belgique" ("I speak Belgian"). A decade later he would play legendary Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. See more »
On the roof where the heist takes place, the cameras shadow is cast on one of the actors. See more »
It can be done! That's the way it can be done! Aaah... oh, excuse me; I've just had a great idea - something I've been looking for a long time... a very long time.
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At the beginning, the title and the technical credits are shown, but no credit is given to the actors or to the producer-director. However, at the end, (spoiler) we suddenly see the words "There they go again!", and all of the leading actors appear in a snowbound setting, together with their names. Then the names of all of the other actors, together with the name of the producer-director, appear on the screen. See more »
Classic Jewel Heist à la Jean Reno set in Istanbul
With beautiful camerawork in Istanbul and Greece and an equally intriguing plot, Jules Dassin brings to the screen a film worthy to be considered alongside his masterpieces "Du rififi chez les hommes" and "Naked City". Peter Ustinov follows up his Oscar-winning performance in "Spartacus" with a second award for best supporting actor, while playing a "schmo"--a lowly, disgraceful, British rogue living in Greece as the self-proclaimed "un-crowned king of the nightlife": Arthur Simon Simpson. Getting involved in much more than he bargained for, Simpson enters a ring of double-crosses as an informer for Turkish Intelligence while still hoping to line his pockets with filthy lucre.
The show, however, is stolen by the seductive, raspy-voiced Elizabeth Lipp, played by Greek beauty Melina Mercouri (who was also in the starring role of Dassin's "Phaedra" two years earlier--as well as "Pote tin Kyriaki" (1960), "La Legge" (1958), and "Celui qui doit mourir" (1957)--and whom the director would marry two years later). The curvy enchantress draws in Walter Harper (Maximilian Schell) and Cedric Page (Robert Morley I), offering them their cut on the biggest heist ever--the theft of the sultan's jewel-encrusted dagger from the Istanbul Museum.
However, there is a problem. The museum is impenetrable, equipped with a state-of-the-art alarm system that requires a strong man to hoist an acrobat from above the museum and slowly lower him into the treasure trove while avoiding security (à la "Mission Impossible" and "Oceans Eleven"). An unattended, even ironic, ending makes this film a classic in the genre as the dénouement keeps the viewer attached to the screen all the way up to the credits.
Not quite the masterpiece of a "Bob le Flambeur" or "Rififi", this film is in the top ten of its genre and is crucial in its intrigue and influence on future heist ("casse") films. Highly enjoyable, with the right balance of humor, suspense and allure (thanks to Melina Mercouri) to establish it as a touchstone in the genre, Dassin's caper is a cinema classic.
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