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Top Line (1988)

Author Ted Angelo discovers an UFO in the Columbian jungle. When he tries to spread the word, he earns more than the usual disbelief: suddenly he's hunted by almost every organization, like... See full summary »


(as Ted Archer)


(story), (story) | 3 more credits »
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Cast overview:
Ted Angelo
June (as Deborah Barrymore)
Mary Stavin ...
Maureen De Havilland
Alonso Quintero
Shirley Hernandez ...
Larry Dolgin
Robert Redcross
José / Robot
Steven Luotto
Heinrich Holzmann


Author Ted Angelo discovers an UFO in the Columbian jungle. When he tries to spread the word, he earns more than the usual disbelief: suddenly he's hunted by almost every organization, like CIA, KGB, the mob, Nazis... and even extraterrestrials - Those ETs obviously do not want to go home. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

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16 August 1988 (Italy)  »

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Alien Terminator  »

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User Reviews

Fun on the Run with Franco Nero in a Sci-Fi Adventure
24 May 2016 | by (Spring Hill, FL) – See all my reviews

Oh man, oh man, oh man. I love it when I stumble across a beautiful gem buried amidst a pile of garbage, and the latest gem is a little Italian science fiction adventure from 1988 called TOP LINE. TOP LINE promises one thing then delivers another, in the best possible way. Take a gander at its poster and it seems to promise a riveting adventure in the vein of an Indiana Jones film, with stars Franco Nero and Deborah Barrymore swinging from a rope (in improbable stances) across a chasm in a deep cave with the busted wreckage of what appears to be a steamship in the background. This imagery is slightly misleading in that a) it's not a steamship they find in the cavern but a 15th century wooden galleon of some sort (if I'm remembering correctly), b) Barrymore's character isn't present when it's discovered, and c) this movie is way, way more than the average adventure film that this poster promises. For starters, the film's alternate title was ALIEN TERMINATOR and, oh my yes, it delivers on this promise. Let's start with some context. Nero plays Ted Angelo, an alcoholic writer who's been living in Colombia on his publisher's dime while trying to put together his next piece of work. Tired of waiting for Angelo to sober up and do his job, his editor/ex-wife Maureen (Mary Stavin) fires him, offering to buy him a plane ticket back home to Italy. By a stroke of luck, Angelo stumbles across an old Aztec dagger in the possession of his…Colombian sexy-time friend? Anyway, he makes plans to sell the dagger and make a nice profit but problems arise when those he contacts about selling it are murdered. Fearing for his life, he traces the dagger back to where it was found and discovers something that puts him at the top of everyone's hit list.

You should be warned: the first twenty minutes or so of this movie are pretty dull. At this point, it's just getting all the exposition out of the way. Angelo is an alcoholic. He's a writer, lives in Colombia. Spends most of his time passed out amid a swarm of empty bottles or cans instead of working. He's divorced and still works for his ex-wife (that takes some guts) and he seems like a bit of a running joke amongst his peers. Then, one day, his…I really don't know…hotel masseuse (?) busts out with an ornate Aztec dagger she borrowed off her boyfriend and Angelo has dollar signs in his eyes. At this point, the movie still has a very low-budget Indiana Jones vibe. Angelo is trying to find a fence for this hot product (it's mentioned that it's a crime to sell artifacts) but people are dropping dead around him. Worried it might've been stolen from the private collection of a powerful antique dealer (George Kennedy), Angelo traces it the dagger back to where it was discovered, an enormous cavern containing the wreckage of an old wooden sailing ship…and more. Now TOP LINE ditches any Indiana Jones adventure pretense and goes full science fiction and Angelo discovers an alien spacecraft hidden within. Now Angelo, the writer, has the story of the century as long as he can find someone that will believe him. This was one of the movie's funniest elements, in my opinion: Angelo desperately pleading like a mad man for someone to believe his tale of an ancient buried alien ship. I'm sure the filmmakers wanted us to feel the tension but it instantly melts away the moment I hear Nero raving about "flying saucers". Now, for the remaining hour or so of the movie's runtime, TOP LINE becomes one long awesome chase and this is where it gets interesting.

The last hour of this 90 minute movie makes it all worthwhile. Angelo is chased by increasingly dangerous opponents. One of my favorite parts of the film has Angelo evading capture by ditching his shoes (to confuse the men tracing his footsteps in the sand) and running barefoot into the desert. This turns out to be the worst possible thing he could've done because the deranged antique dealer then begins a low-speed car chase wherein he trails poor Angelo, forcing him to run barefoot through a long stretch of cacti. He just idles along behind Angelo, laughing insanely and nudging him along with his bumper when he stumbles to his knees in exhaustion. When Angelo tries to bring this UFO to the world's attention through a major New York news outlet, it sends a team immediately to South America to accompany Angelo back to the alien craft. But, surprise! Even the news crew is a secret team of assassins out to silence him. The only person he can trust is a woman named June (Barrymore) whom…and I'm being completely honest…I don't even remember being introduced. I'm sure it happened at some point in the first boring 20 minutes but I had no recollection of who she was or why she was suddenly along for the ride. I don't know who she is, but I'm sure she regrets her unfortunate involvement when they're suddenly faced with the (alternately) titular alien terminator, which doesn't even make an appearance until the last thirty minutes. Poor Angelo has the local police, the secret service, the military, the freakin' KGB, and now an alien death machine intent on silencing him. And it all culminates in a final showdown where Angelo learns the truth behind it all and learns an unlikely secret about his past. TOP LINE is a blast. It's stupid fun, Franco Nero does a great job, and it moves at a brisk pace once the action kicks in around 25 minutes into the film. I very much recommend fans of low-grade cinema seek this gem out.

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