Topkapi/ B+,C+
MGM/1964/119/WS 1.66

    This very enjoyable caper concoction is quite literally taken to the rooftops by a splendid Peter Ustinov performance. Ustinov's Arthur Simon Simpson is a jewel as precious as any of the emerald's encrusted in the famed sultan's dagger housed in the Turkish museum Topkapi
     Jules Dassin, director of such classic noir films as, Night and the City, The Naked City and Brute Force, as well as the French triumph, Rififi, beautifully blends suspense and humor in his direction. It is execution rather than plot that makes the film so successful.  Stealing a magnificent gem from the Topkapi museum in Istanbul is the excuse for banding together  an international team of specialists that interact delightful. Caper execution is elegant in its simplicity. I'd rather see a cut to pully than a computer screen.

Fine details. ©MGM

     The exotic setting sparks delight through finely realized photographic compositions as does the crisply executed score by Manos Hadjidakis. Reminiscent in some ways of Rififi's caper,  capturing the jeweled dagger  provides breath-holding entertainment from treat from start to finish. Topkapi a broadly appealing film that comfortably bridges generation spans.
       MGM delivers a decent transfer. There a few patches of softness and the image is seldom as sharp as it could be. Some dirt and flashing is evident in the original elements. The color is often intense and pleasing while at other moments it has a slightly worn look. Shadow detail is good. Blacks are comfortably and consistently deep. A bit more could have been extracted from an anamorphic transfer. These MGM catalog 1.66 widescreen releases appear to be compromises of original 1.85 compositions, though Topkapi does not suffer from obvious cropping.  The mono soundtrack is clean and adequately delivers the essentials. 
     Despite less a less than perfect DVD, Topkapi is a worthy entertainment, a treat for past and current generations of movie lovers. 




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