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Film / Topkapi

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A 1964 comedic heist film directed by Jules Dassin, starring Peter Ustinov, Melina Mercouri, Maximilian Schell, Robert Morley and Jess Hahn.

Based on Eric Ambler's novel The Light of Day, it tells of Arthur Simpson (Ustinov), a jack-of-all-trades and small time con artist who gets roped into helping a group of international thieves headed by Elizabeth Lipp (Mercouri) while simultaneously being forced to spy on them for the Turkish Secret Police.


This film provides examples of:

  • The Caper
  • For Want of a Nail: "A little bird told me."
  • Here We Go Again!: The movie actually ends with these words, as the protagonists plan another caper while still in prison.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Simpson sells fraudulent antiques to tourists and offers to show them the local nightlife (in the novel, it's explained he has an arrangement with local prostitutes wherein they rob customers he sends their way and share the proceeds with them).
  • It's Not Porn, It's Art: Simpson lost his British citizenship because he was caught smuggling pornography. When questioned about it by the Turkish secret police, he handwaves that by citing the recently unbanned Joyce (presumably Ulysses) and Lady Chatterley's Lover.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the original novel, in which Simpson is more of a Dirty Coward and has engaged in more villainous actions.
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  • Lovable Coward: Arthur is one, and actually convinces the Turkish secret police to trust him by monologue on how from looking at him, they should know he would never be involved in terrorism.
  • "Mission: Impossible" Cable Drop: The original.
  • Money Fetish: Ms. Lipp has one, or more precisely a jewelery fetish.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: While Simpson isn't that bright, he's smarter than both the criminals and the Turkish police think he is.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Simpson plays this role in the band of criminals, although oddly, he's the protagonist.
  • Sinister Shades: One of the Turkish agents wears completely opaque lenses to creepy effect.


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