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Reviews & Ratings for
Topkapi More at IMDbPro »

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58 out of 68 people found the following review useful:

Mission Impossible

Author: M. J Arocena from New Zealand
18 October 2006

One of the most entertaining heist films of all time. Full of original ideas, smartly written and joyfully directed. And, if all that wasn't enough, Peter Ustinov! He won his second Oscar as best supporting actor for this creation - an unsuccessful small time crook, intelligent enough to know that he's not intelligent enough - without country and without future. Ustinov soars. He is surrounded by a group of Euro-heavy weights, Melina Mercouri, Maximilian Schell, Robert Morley, Akim Tammiroff. The suspense, fun filled entrance to the Topkapi museum was stolen and disguised with a multi dollar budget by Brian De Palma and his accomplices in the first Mission Impossible without being able to duplicate the suspense, the fun, the humanity or the innocence of the proceedings. The locations are another treat, the music, the costumes and the honesty with which the dishonesty of the characters is portrayed. A true delight.

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64 out of 85 people found the following review useful:

Flawless Heist Film

Author: jpdanzig from New York City
21 January 2004

Geez, I can't get over all the sour comments about this film on this site. Long? Boring? These must be the feelings of MTV kids who can't focus on an image for longer than thirty seconds... For the rest of you looking for the perfect caper film, look no farther. Exotic locale... great cast... memorable score... Topkapi has it all. In my opinion, this is a far superior film to Jules Dassin's earlier Riffifi. Topkapi is glamorous, funny, exciting -- but above all, fun.

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57 out of 73 people found the following review useful:

A fascinating guide to the jewel of the Dardanelles...

Author: Righty-Sock ( from Mexico
12 June 2004

Melina Mercouri introduces herself as a thief who doesn't hide the way she feels about the most wonderful emeralds… She wants to rob a dagger encrusted with fascinating gemstones…

One of her potential partners is her former lover Maximilian Schell, a very distinguished crook who fights at his best when he fights in a corner… Schell wants to pick his crew from amateurs with no police records, and strike the most protected fortress…

Peter Ustinov won his first Best Supporting Oscar for his amusing performance as the clever middle-aged 'nobody' who could have gone far but he always plays for small stakes…

Ustinov is the victim of circumstances, caught at the Turkish border with a riffle and six grenades… For that, his mission is to spy on the spies, and report to the Turkish security everything he overhears-no matter how trivial it may seem to him… The police gives him a chance to prove that he is not a terrorist… He accepts to work with them…

With a funny toy man who proposes to get into the palace museum without touching the floor; a mute acrobat who talks with his whole body; a mad muscle man who hates a drunken cook; a showman with no problems at the customs border; plus Islamic mosques; ancient streets; colorful bazaars; oiled wrestlers; talented belly dancers; and fable roofs; "Topkapi" overlooks both the Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus, offering bright moments with a final suspense sequence in the 'Rififi' manner…

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29 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

Astounding film about a heist with pretty humor

Author: ma-cortes from Santander Spain
27 April 2005

The film talks a hold-up to Turkish museum carried out by a motley group : Melina Mercouri , Maximiliam Schell , Jess Hahn , Gilles Segal . They are pursued by a chief policeman who blackmails to Peter Ustinov to get undercover in the band.

From the beginning until ending the good mood and humor is continued . The plot is very amusing and the final has got an extraordinary surprise . In the movie there are comedy , action , tongue-in-cheek , giggles and results to be very bemusing . The highlight and great climax , of course , is the heist which is developed with imposing tension and intrigue . The robbing has been imitated thousand times in European films as well as American movies (Mission impossible). This picture along with ¨Rififi¨(also by Jules Dassin) created during the 60s and forward an authentic genre .

The title of the film refers to the Topkapi palace built by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in 1459, after the fall of the Byzantine Empire , the Ottoman sultans made their main residence in the Topkapi palace for 400 years , it became a museum in 1924 . The motion picture attained a lot of success and originated copies , rip offs and awful imitations . Actors's interpretation are excellent , Peter Ustinov is magnificent and Robert Morley is top-notch specially . Manos Hadjidakis' musical score is cheerful and enjoyable . The picture was very well directed by Jules Dassin (Melina Mercouri's husband).

The yarn will appeal to comedy enthusiasts and robbery genre fans . Rating : Above average . Well worth watching .

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38 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

Marvelous Caper Flick

Author: getlance-1 from Minnesota
16 April 2004

Topkapi is a wonderful caper film that established the genre of the light heist flick. Much copied even to this day, it was a big international hit back in '64. Marvelous international cast (Ustinov's Oscar winning performance among them), exotic settings and a great climax is pure entertainment. Ustinov, Melina Mercouri, Max Shell, Robert Morley, Akim Tamiroff (demented!) and more. What a terrific international all star cast! Exciting movie in it's day, though some of the effects are dated to the 60's. If it seems a bit slow at the beginning (by today's standards), give it a chance. The climax art museum theft scene is one of the great moments in film - don't miss it!

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21 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Hard-to-beat in the big caper category. A fun film.

Author: Steve Tarter from Peoria, Illinois
13 January 2001

Before "Mission Impossible" made every big heist a challenge for technology, there were movie efforts like "Topkapi" which played the human element in the big scam.

A wonderful and truly international cast is assembled here for this 60's effort that showcases Istanbul. Melina Mercouri is marvelous, blending humor and sensuality with her hard side. Maximillian Schell is excellent as the leading man with all the answers while Peter Ustinov is the classic bumbler. Akim Tamiroff adds additional levity as the irascible cook.

Not sure I was totally satisfied with the outcome but it's such a rollicking and colorful ride, give director Jules Dassin top marks anyway.

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26 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Lots of fun and thrills in this colourful tongue in cheek heist adventure.

Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
23 October 2003

Jules Dassin directed the classic hard-boiled 'Rififi' in the mid-50s. Ten years later he's at the heist genre again, but 'Topkapi' is a very different kind of movie. Gone is the realism and darkness of 'Rififi', which influenced many subsequent crime thrillers. Instead we have a good old fashioned adventure, which is quite tongue in cheek and very colourful and fun. The eclectic ensemble cast are all very good - Dassin's wife Melina Mercouri, Maximilian Schell, Robert Morley, and especially a knockout performance from Peter Ustinov, an actor I usually have little time for. The robbery sequence was "borrowed" thirty years later by Brian De Palma for 'Mission Impossible', but 'Topkapi' is the better of the two movies by far.

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21 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

Eric Ambler's Masterpiece?

Author: theowinthrop from United States
17 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the pantheon of fine thriller and adventure novelists of the 20th Century, Eric Ambler has always been in a shadow. He began writing in the 1930s, and continued turning out novels (and screenplays) until his death in the 1980s. With a few exceptions these novels were all quite good. But he was in the shadow of his fellow Britain Graham Greene.

Greene (like Ambler) wrote political thrillers and spy novels, but Greene (a serious supporter of Catholicism) was able to examine the universal hold of the Catholic religion in his novels like "The End Of The Affair" and "The Power And The Glory". In particular, like Alfred Hitchcock, Greene enjoyed looking at how guilt makes us all shared sinners - like his Candide traveler innocent Holly Martins plunged into betraying his old friend Harry Lime in "The Third Man".

Ambler never (sorry to say this) had that kind of depth in his writing. He did reveal the hidden connections between economic realities and international politics in books like "A Coffin For Demetrios", or "Cause For Alarm" or "The Intercom Conspiracy". But he was not pushing a religious agenda and philosophy in his novels. So while he had (and still has)deserved popularity and readers, he never could achieve the thoughtful criticism that Greene could (and still does) arouse.

His 1963 novel, "The Light Of Day", was a kind of break from his usual. Instead of concentrating a plot dealing with the political realities of Europe or the Far East, "The Light Of Day" was a first person narrative of one Arthur Simpson (played in the film by Peter Ustinov). Simpson is a small time con-man, who is hired to transport a car secretly full of illegal weapons to Istanbul from Greece. As relations between the two countries were fragile (and still are), it would not be good for him to be caught by the Turkish Secret Service with those weapons. Unfortunately for him he is so caught. The mastermind of the crime has set things up for the registration of the car and the bill of sale for the arms to be in Simpson's name. But the frantic man manages to convince the Turkish officer interrogating him to believe he knew nothing about the weapons. Simpson has to continue on his way to Istanbul to keep an eye on the people behind this. He is kept on as a chauffeur, and subsequently discovers that the weapons are not part of an assassination plot or a plan to overthrow the government, but part of a robbery scheme.

That is the plot of the novel. But Ambler makes Simpson an engaging rogue, and one fully ambivalent to the forces that make him feel like a tennis ball. By the time the novel is finished one does not care for the cynic who plans the crime, or for the Turkish police official. Both only see the fruition of their plans as important. Simpson is quite amusing, first in his honesty in seeing what a lowly toad of a small-time crook he is, and secondly his repeated abilities to create situations that make him believe he is controlling events when he really is not in such a position. As a comic novel, this may be Ambler's masterpiece.

When the novel was turned into this first rate crime caper comedy, Jules Daissin had been making films in Europe for over a decade. Starting in Hollywood in the late 1940s, his best work ("The Naked City) suggested a major career in film here. But Daissin had left wing political ideas, and he was blacklisted. Unlike many of the victims of the blacklist, Daissin moved to France and continued movie making. His biggest hit was "Rafifi", his painstaking look at a crime heist (a jewelry robbery, no less), where he played the lead role as the safe cracker. The movie also showed the success of the robbery collapse when the thieves fall out over personal matters.

After his marriage to Melina Mercouri, Daissin moved to Greece, and would make his two masterpiece comedies "Topkapi" and "Never On Sunday" (again he starred as Homer, opposite Mercouri in that film). But Daissin also took advantage, when he made "Topkapi", to alter the script.

In the novel there is no character like Mercouri's Elizabeth Lipp. The scheme is totally planned by the male character that Maximillian Schell plays. The weapons are involved in the jewel robbery scheme, but here there is a difference that Daissin brought into Ambler's story. Simpson (in the novel) never goes into great detail about the robbery - he is only there as the chauffeur for the getaway car, so he is sitting outside when the robbery takes place. But for the creator of RIFIFI, Daissin could not resist creating a second complicated robbery scheme, involving setting up an alibi at a public wrestling match, delaying the movement of a lighthouse, using pulleys and tackle to lower a man through a window into the main room of a museum, and criss-crossing the Topkapi Palace/Museum roof without being seen. He does this very well. The cast ably assists, with Mercouri as an honest nymphomaniac who loves jewelry, Schell as her partner and sometimes lover, Robert Morley as a mechanical genius who manages to wipe axle grease on his face in a quick comedy highlight, Akim Tamiroff as a drunken Turkish cook who hates the foreigners (except Simpson) and only likes the British, and best - Ustinov as the sweaty, hopelessly over-his-head Simpson. It was a role that won Ustinov his second Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

I notice there is a lament that, despite the ending, there was never any sequel film. I suspect this was due to Ambler, who did write a second novel narrated by Simpson, about a land grab in Africa. It is not as good as "The Light Of Day", and has never been filmed.

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Classic Jewel Heist à la Jean Reno set in Istanbul

Author: homme_des_foules from Princeton, Kentucky
14 June 2003

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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18 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

A Classic Heist

Author: EmperorNortonII from San Francisco, California
6 March 2004

"Topkapi" is a classic. In it, a group of criminals with a plan to break into the Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, and steal a jewel-encrusted dagger. Melina Mercouri stars as Elizabeth Lipp, the mastermind behind the heist. Peter Ustinov is along for the ride as Arthur Simon Simpson, who does a good turn of comic relief. The movie shows beautiful shots of Greece and Turkey on its wild trip. It's similar to the original "Ocean's Eleven," as you root for the thieves. You find yourself hoping crime will pay! The last shot of the movie shows more of the fun spirit present in the movie. In the end, I wondered a little about the continuing adventures of the characters. Surely, this caper deserves investigation!

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