Monday, January 23, 2017

"Topkapi" -- the Film

Melina Mercouri in the film.
The film "Topkapi," (1964) was directed by Jules Dassin, and featured actors Melina Mercouri, Peter Ustinov, and Maximilian Schell. Those were really big names when the film was new -- still not totally forgotten, I hope. I remembered seeing and loving this film at some point, and decided to see it again today (thanks to streaming video).

Dassin delivered a great combination of suspense, humor, exotic locations, and beautiful settings. The acting seems somewhat stylized by today's standards, but it's still fun to watch.

My memory is of both the entertaining plot and the great imagery of colorful Istanbul. I fear that quite a lot of the buildings and street scenes featured in the film have been leveled and modernized to make the new, far bigger city that exists today; in 1964 the population was just over 1,000,000 and it is now over 14,000,000.

Street vendors, porters, carnival workers, and humble house servants are featured in the film, and bring the city to life. Here are some screen shots from the film:

I especially enjoyed one sequence showing lots of street vendors and
street scenes with people carrying loads in the old-fashioned way.
I wonder what's at the site of these old buildings now. 

The plot: to steal a jeweled dagger from the Topkapi Palace. Here: the three thieves wait on the roof until its
dark enough to enter the building. The trick: they must not touch the floor, which has a built-in alarm.
From left, actors Ustinov, Schell, and Gilles S├ęgal "the human fly." 
The "human fly" descends from ropes to steal the dagger. It's a wonderful movie, perfect for my current interest in Istanbul!

1 comment:

Jeanie said...

I haven't seen Topkapi in years but I remember it was really entertaining and kept your interest. I'll have to watch for it next time it's on telly.